YouTube videos have been making headlines nearly everyday. After weeding out mounds of videos of people making funny noises in their kitchens or animals performing tricks for the camera, the media always seems to find an outrageous or mystifying video to feature. One of the latest ones to come about is a video of 1,600 Filipino prisoners dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” in their bright orange uniforms.

The video, shot in Cebu, Philippines, has been viewed 1.9 million times on YouTube. There are also videos on the site of the prisoners dancing to Queen’s “Radio Gaga” and music from the movie “Sister Act.” These are not freestyle dances but carefully practiced and choreographed routine used as a form of exercise for the inmates. The dance lessons are held two times a day in the jail. Byron Garcia, the special security consultant who put the videos up on YouTube, also came up with the idea of using dancing to give prisoners exercise. Before then, few of the prisoners were taking part in the callisthenics and push-ups being offered by the jail to give the inmates exercise. It is also a way to instill discipline in the prisoners. Some of them are being locked up for heinous crimes such as murder and drug trafficking.

The idea first started off with having prisoners do military marches to the tune of the Village People songs “YMCA” and “In the Navy” as well as Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.” Once they had the marching down, a choreographer was hired to teach them dance routines. Vince Rosales undertook the task of guiding the prisoners through the dance routines. It took a lot of time for them to listen to Rosales and begin to enjoy the lessons. He has since received thanks from elderly and infirm inmates for creating dance exercises for them.

After a month of practice, the “Thriller” video was posted on YouTube and continue to put out videos of their dances. Garcia believes that the dancing has had a positive effect on the prisoners’ discipline and self esteem. Perhaps in the future, more jails will adopt dancing as part of their daily exercise programs.

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