Friday, June 26, 2009

Not the Wrong Star: Impromptu Memorial Dance Party and Parade for Michael Jackson

Mourning a Star at a Makeshift StarYesterday as people reported fans at the wrong Michael Jackson star (that of the LA radio personality), I am happy to report that while it may not have been the King of Pop's actual Hollywood star, it wasn't really the wrong star.

I headed out on the Metro Red Line toward Hollywood around 10 after receiving a text from my friend who told me they were waiting for the boundaries to clear from the very unfortunately placed "Bruno" premiere - hopefully to clear around 11 or 12. As reports today indicated, it didn't happen at 11 or 12, but rather the next morning.

I'm not sure all that unfolded would have happened if we knew that timeline, maybe we wouldn't have even been there. Truth be told, there were less people than I would have imagined waiting to see the real Michael Jackson Hollywood star (and I'm not sure how many of those out-and-about were tourists), but there were enough - enough people who loved his musical legacy - to create the kind of synergy that makes things happen.

Dance Party for Michael Jackson: The MJ Costume IIt began with a dance party on the corner of Hollywood/Highland. With an mp3 player and a speaker system, people slowly got out of their wallflower shells and began dancing to Michael Jackson's famous dance beats, singing along to "Billie Jean is not my lover...", and imitating the famous moves of Thriller. Things started really heating up when a fan, decked out in one of Michael Jackson's famous looks (as pictured), came out to strut his best MJ moves.

There's something about impromptu dance parties that kind of resonate a bit of magic. To make them happen, it takes more than just the people who set up the music and who have already planned to dance. There has to be something motivating others to join in. Since this was an impromptu memorial dance party, that motivation was definitely the memory of Michael Jackson. Sure, there were plenty of people standing by watching all of us letting loose, but I know I hadn't arrived planning to dance and others dancing probably hadn't either. But we did. For some, myself included, we probably couldn't help it.

At one point a man walked right through the dance circle with a "get out of the way" attitude. But we saw that even he, when crossing the street, danced to the beat like the rest of us.

Slice of an Impromptu Parade for Michael JacksonEventually, however, the crowd grew restless of waiting without any news and, in the hope that the real Hollywood star had been unveiled, my friend Nate rallied that we all have a dance parade down to the star. We all danced down Hollywood Boulevard toward the Grauman's Chinese Theatre, but were stopped short by barricades still up. We weren't stopped for long as the suggestion to parade down the Boulevard to the makeshift memorial was accepted by us all. While it wasn't exactly a coordinated replication of the "Thriller" music video (I saw those zombie hand movements, folks! I know people were hoping for it!), it was an impromptu dance party parade. Those passing us by cheered and we cheered right along with our dance moves and hand claps. Cars honked their horns in approval - at least, we hope that's why they were honking - and even the lights seemed to be in our favor as it was practically all green for those leading the charge.

All the while Michael Jackson's music poured through the speakers.

And when we landed at the other star, the volume lowered. The music slowed. With candles already lit, notes already made, people sat in contemplation - some wrote their own notes, said their own prayers.

So it wasn't the "right" star, and I'm pretty sure some might opine that most of us didn't know Michael Jackson as a person, so we shouldn't need to grieve. But the night wasn't about being in the right place or having a direct, personal connection to someone who has passed away. The night was completely about creating a space - to celebrate, to mourn - and making connections, finding others who needed to have that space too.
And why? Because we do have a personal connection to this man, this icon, this King of Pop: his music is infused in us all.

Rest in peace, Michael Jackson.

-Charity Tran

Also make sure to check out The GRAMMY Museum's "In Celebration of Michael Jackson", the museum's exhibition featuring some of Jackson's most iconic wardrobe pieces.

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