Off the Wall

In 1980, Mimi Robbins' School of Dance was a one-room studio in strip shopping center in Richardson, Texas, at the corner of Coit and Spring Valley roads.

As you walked in the studio, Mimi's turntable was in the immediate right hand corner, surrounded by stacks of LP records. And I still remember being curious about the man in the tuxedo as she pulled the shiny black disc out of Michael Jackson's album, Off the Wall. That record was the foundation of our warmup for most of that year, and no wonder it was Mimi's favorite, because that gold single, Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough, and at least half the singles on that album saturated the airwaves in 1980 and '81. When I was 10, I thought Michael Jackson's music was designed especially to be the soundtrack for a dance class.

Then came Thriller. Not only did we want to listen to Michael Jackson, but we wanted to dance like him, too.

The TV show "Friday Night Videos" would promote its uninterrupted broadcast of Thriller, the "new video from Michael Jackson." (Our house didn't have cable TV and MTV yet.) So we glued our behinds to the carpet in front of the TV from 10:30 p.m. 'til midnight, eyes on the screen and one finger on the VCR so we could tape every second of this eye-popping new video.

There's nothing new that I can say about the shockwave impact of Michael Jackson's stratospheric success in the early 1980s (but Statesman music critic Joe Gross did -- please read it.) MJ changed pop music. He changed music videos. He championed choreographers and created opportunities for thousands, maybe millions, of people.

He inspired dancers of all ages, on every continent.

Including me.

Did Michael Jackson inspire you to dance? Tell me about.


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