The Dancing Prisoners of the Philippines

While the Philippine island of Cebu boasts some of the best beaches in the country, it has also gained international attention for its jail, which features dancing as a recreational activity for inmates. Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC), a maximum security prison, made headlines in 2007 after a video of around 1,500 inmates dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” went viral. Nearly 13 years later, the original video has been viewed more than 59 million times. Visitors have also flocked to the jail to watch the inmates dance live. At one point, monthly performances were open to the public. However, in February 2010, Gov. Gwen Garcia ordered that the program be put on hold and prisoners instructed to focus on the planting of crops inside the compound instead of dancing. The decision was made because Gov. Garcia believed the dance performances were overshadowing the general rehabilitation program. However, after a public outcry, dancing at the CPDRC continued, but public viewing was not permitted. Unfortunately, half the prisoners said they would not take part if the performances were not public, so in 2012, after insistent demand from the public, the prison dancers returned to performing for the public, this time by performing “Gangnam Style.”