By now most of us are familiar with the concept of a flash mob.
And while they’re nothing new, they certainly work in wondrous ways to bring light and attention to a variety of subjects and issues. It’s almost as if people materialize out of thin air, and suddenly they’ve organized a synchronized routine that astounds and amazes.
It’s just the sort of reaction people got when they viewed this 2007 video.
The video features a mob of people in orange suits gathering in a courtyard.
They trudge their hunched bodies forward, resembling ambling zombies.
It’s not before long that you realize that they’re performing none other than Michael Jackson’s iconic “Thriller.”
But there’s one big twist—this routine isn’t out on the street. It’s being performed inside a maximum-security prison in the Philippines by inmates.
Meet the inmates of Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center.
The CDPRC in the Philippines has worked to redefine what jail truly means. In an effort to lift the spirits and promote morale within the dismal confines of the prison walls, these inmates are being given a breath of life via dance routines.
This very video went viral in 2007, a time when virality was a true indicator of things. As it stands now, the video has been viewed almost 60 million times!
The jail received copious amounts of attention from publications and networks, wondering just what was behind this choreographed inmate routine.
A multi-part documentary was even made titled Happy Jail. The video offered a glimpse of something that shattered our expectations, perhaps a reason why it went viral the way it did. It effectively worked to humanize the inmates. And not only that, it read as sheer joy, something people don’t associate with imprisonment.
And this impeccable routine of “Thriller” is just the tip of the iceberg!
The inmates have actually spent a wide-variety of time dancing out their troubles in the jail’s large courtyard.
From Queen to Bruno Mars to music from the hit Grease, these prisoners have been getting down. But who is responsible for this program? The credit goes to former security advisor Byron F. Garcia.
Garcia began the Dancing Inmates program after watching The Shawshank Redemption. Inspired by playing music for inmates, he attempted his own experiment. Playing Queen over the loudspeaker one day, the inmates danced. And so this unique prison reform commenced.
The jail fills the inmate’s days up with dance practice, keeping them successfully occupied.
Come to find out, many of the prisoners aren’t yet convicts, but are there awaiting trial.
To keep their minds sharp and directed, dance practice begins at six in the morning and extends for hours beyond that.
One inmate revealed to NPR in an interview:
“Before the dancing, our problems were really heavy to bear. Dancing takes our minds away from our problems. Our bodies became more healthy. As for the judges, they may be impressed with us, seeing that we are being rehabilitated and this could help our case. We are being rehabilitated in a good way.”
The music coupled with dancing is a way to really get the inmates involved. Poorly attended exercise sessions were soon replaced with an activity that people truly wanted to engage in.
And it gives them something to own.
“Before … we just get our food and go back to our cell, and if we don’t have anything to do we just talk. But it is different now. Every day we are very busy preparing to dance for our upcoming shows. We are very proud of what we have done.”
Check out this perfectly spooky version of “Thriller” for yourself in the video below!
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