Athletics crossed paths with Halloween fun on Friday with a spooky fitness party in the RAC. There was a costume party, face painting, healthy snacks, giveaways and the main event: Michael Jackson’s iconic “Thriller” dance.
Those in costume came ready to compete. There was a perfect Wednesday Addams, a Kylo Ren and a blood-stained cat with long, sharp claws. One man wore spot-on homemade red Halo armor that the event’s announcer mistook for Iron Man.
Many attendees snapped pictures with the man in the Halo costume in front of the graveyard backdrop that served as a photo booth. In spite of his popularity, he did not win. Instead, Wednesday Addams and the murderous cat tied for first place in the contest.
The main event, learning the thriller dance, took place down on the basketball court. Jasmin Walters, UMBC’s fitness and wellness coordinator, taught the class decked out in a red jacket styled like Michael Jackson’s and half of her face painted in zombie makeup. Walters founded the Cardio Party class, a dance class using pop and hip hop music. She has been teaching the Thriller dance since 2009.
When she began at UMBC, Walters used the iconic dance as a theme day for her regular fitness classes. It was last year she decided to branch out. A representative for UMBC’s wellness initiative, an inter-department team focused on the health of UMBC students, Walters brought up her idea.
“They were like this is going to be big, there’s so many people that are going to want to do it, don’t just do it for cardio party,” Walters said.
And it was big. Over 100 people attended last year and they saw similar numbers this year. Though not everyone participated in the dance, many stood on the rails of the indoor track to watch. Walters hopes to grow the event even more in the future.
“For the most part the people that were here today frequent the RAC, it’s kind of the same people in the same circle,” Walters said. “I would love for it to be larger.”
When learning the dance, it was easy to spot who the fitness buffs were. Several people learned the steps very quickly, which Walters taught step by step through repetition. Periodically, Walters would ask who needed to learn a step again and half the group would respond.
Although it was difficult, the dance was also a great workout and everyone seemed to be having fun, no matter what their skill level was.
Justine Josey, a junior computer science major, really enjoyed herself. She is a regular at the RAC.
“I just love to dance and Thriller is one of the most iconic dances out there,” Josey said.
Although she had never attempted to learn Thriller before, Josey was one of the people who picked up on the moves very quickly. She feels the college does a great job promoting fitness with what the RAC has to offer.
“There’s something for everyone,” Josey said.