"}
On Stage

Thrillingham

Dancing like the dead

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bellingham has an affinity for zombies.

For proof of this, I hearken back to the first live “Thriller” performance I saw a handful of years ago. In that instance—the year singer Michael Jackson departed from his mortal coil—“Thrillingham” performers stopped traffic on Holly Street on Halloween night in order to shuffle like the undead for the crowd of costumed revelers.

In the years since, “Thrillingham” performers have transformed themselves into fearsome, flesh-eating zombies and turned up in locales in Fairhaven and downtown Bellingham every Oct. 31, ready to share their spooky song-and-dance routine.

Kamea Black, the coordinator for this year’s “Thrillingham,” says the years she’s spent being part of the party—two as a performer and two as an organizer—have shown her that pretty cool things happen when Bellinghamsters gather together for a common cause. 

Black says there are a variety of reasons the dancers practice their moves through October and spend their Halloween nights dressing up like zombies.

“We have the ‘I am new to Bellingham and I need to get out,’ the single mom dancing with her kids, the zombie enthusiasts, the ‘I was brought into this by someone who wouldn’t dance alone,’ the coffeehouse manager, the girlfriends, the introverts trying to break out of their comfort zone, lots of students, and, of course, a few Michael Jackson fans,” she says.

“The neatest thing is watching these people as they struggle with all of the steps—there are a lot of steps—and then seeing them get it,” Black adds. “When they stick with me, and they practice, they get more and more confident in themselves and their body movements. Seeing them so happy, so excited and proud of themselves literally brings tears to my eyes.”

Although not everybody who learns the moves chooses to share them on the horrifying holiday, most do, and Black says those who can meet up a couple hours before the performances to eat, do each other’s makeup, shred costumes and take part in last-minute rehearsals.

From there, the horde of 100-plus zombies—who have been taught to groan, moan, snarl and generally act like they’re crazy for brains—march from a secret locale through downtown.

“It is like something from a movie, and it feeds on itself, so by the time everyone gets to the park they are ready to thrill your socks off,” Black says of the big reveal.

Diverging from past years, this Thursday’s performance will take place at one locale only—Maritime Heritage Park. Attendees should secure a spot before 8:30pm, when “Thrillingham” will get underway. (Another change this year is that a percentage of funds raised by dancer contributions, donations and onsite merch and beverage sales will go to Womencare Shelter of Whatcom County.)

Black says other surprises are in store for those who brave the zombies at Maritime Heritage Park, including additional dance performances from several local studios, Michael- and Janet Jackson-inspired dancers, and more.

“Think Halloween variety show, followed by a community dance party,” Black says.

When asked why she thinks viewers should add Maritime Heritage Park’s zombie party to their Halloween haunts, Black recalls a moment before last year’s show when one of the youngest zombies rushed up to her and, with a huge smile, pointed out all the people that were there to see her dance.

“She reminded me why I was there,” Black says, “Why we were all there—to create community, and have some Halloween fun!”

SVCR-0603 Buffet_ 770x150 CW
More On Stage...
Circus Al Fresco
Summer’s last Sh’Bang

By the time you read these words, it might be too late to sign up for the Circus Campout taking place Aug. 25-28 at the Lookout Arts Quarry.

Luckily, visitors to the 50-acre property near Alger can still reap the rewards of what happens when creative humans gather together for three days…

more »
Seasonal Spotlight
An iDiOM state of mind

When I last wrote about iDiOM Theater, the 14-year-old performing arts venue was preparing to decamp from its longtime space on Cornwall Avenue for a move to the new Sylvia Center for the Arts—but not before offering up a production of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

I was in attendance…

more »
Campus Collective
Welcome back to Western Summer Theatre

The beginning of Western Washington University’s fall semester is still more than a month away, but that doesn’t mean all is quiet on the edifice of learning on the hill.

Far from it, in fact. Since returning to liven up WWU’s campus in July, Western Summer Theatre is once again ensuring…

more »
Events
Today
Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Wednesday Market

12:00pm|Fairhaven Village Green

Sedro-Woolley Farmers Market

3:00pm|Hammer Heritage Square

Brewers Cruise

6:00pm|Bellingham Cruise Terminal

Music at Maritime

6:00pm|Maritime Heritage Park

Group Run

6:00pm|Skagit Running Company

Group Run

6:00pm|Skagit Running Company

The Gun Show

8:00pm|Boundary Bay Brewery

Village Books Swinomish 2016
Tomorrow
Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

5Point Adventure Film Festival

10:00am|Downtown Bellingham

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Bow Little Market

1:00pm|Belfast Feed Store

Garden Dedication

3:00pm|Mount Vernon City Library

Blues, Brews & BBQ

5:00pm|Hotel Bellwether

Vintner Dinner

5:30pm|Semiahmoo Resort

Riverwalk Summer Concert Series

6:00pm|Riverwalk Park

Move to Amend

6:00pm|Mount Vernon

Fiction Writing Group

6:00pm|Village Books,

Elizabeth Park Concert Series

6:00pm|Elizabeth Park

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead

8:00pm|Cirque Lab

5 Point Film Festival Andrew Subin
Friday
Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

5Point Adventure Film Festival

10:00am|Downtown Bellingham

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead

8:00pm|Cirque Lab

What's Next?

9:00am|Bellingham Senior Activity Center

Wild Things

9:30am|Lake Padden

Plover Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

Ferndale Farmers Market

1:00pm|Cherry Street

Barbecues and Beach Parties

5:30pm|Semiahmoo Resort

Ferndale Street Festival

6:00pm|Downtown Ferndale

Summer Concert Series Finale

6:00pm|Seafarers Park

Art Party

6:00pm|Tillie Lace Gallery

Farm Tunes

6:00pm|BelleWood Acres

Final Sin & Gin Tours

7:00pm|Historic Fairhaven and downtown Bellingham

Final Dancing on the Green

7:00pm|Fairhaven Village Green

Wine and Music

7:00pm|Artifacts Cafe and Wine Bar

A Little Night Music

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center

Doubles

9:00pm|Upfront Theatre

see our complete calendar »

Northwood Steak and Crab Bellingham Farmer’s Market Swinomish 2016 Andrew Subin Artifacts Wine Bar Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 5 Point Film Festival Village Books