Amateur Night Dedicated to MJ At Apollo Theater

Tributes to the King of Pop continued Wednesday at the Apollo Theater, where the weekly Amateur Night turned into a Michael Jackson celebration, with impersonators emulating his outfits and mimicking his dance moves.

Teenager Mike Rios was the first to demonstrate his Jackson jinks and jukes when the Harlem theater's doors opened Wednesday night. The Elizabeth, N.J., boy wore a Jackson-inspired red jacket and pants and grooved to the 1987 hit "Bad."

"I just watched his video, and I practiced," said Rios, who praised Jackson's all-around "musicality."

The crowd cheered on the 16-year-old Rios, prompting Jackson superfan Allison Hector to jump on stage and bust a move.

Hector, who wore a T-shirt with the image of the "Thriller" album cover, ecstatically emulated moves she learned watching Jackson's music videos.
"Nobody moves like him," the 19-year-old said, her eyes filling with tears. "I feel it in my blood -- I just can't help it!"
Hector, whose favorite Jackson song is "Dirty Diana," said she "had dreams of meeting him and becoming famous."

"I will never forget this night," the Bronx resident said.
Celebrity impersonator C.P. Lacey paid homage to the pop legend, who died last week at age 50. Lacey arrived on stage dressed as Jackson of the latter years, sporting a black suit, white socks, black wig and sunglasses. As the crowd roared, he performed "Man In the Mirror" and "Billie Jean."

Hundreds of people had lined up outside before the Amateur Night show, which also featured a moonwalking contest.

Brooklyn resident Marlene Villalona, 21, said she loved Jackson's "style, his moves, his music." She said she was excited about her first visit to the Apollo, where Jackson performed as a child.
Several young moonwalkers -- too young to remember Jackson in his heyday -- slid across the stage, showing off their best Jackson moves. A dance troupe called Rhythm City wowed the crowd with a rousing medley of Jackson classics, including "Thriller."
A young singer named Zaccheus, an Apollo regular, performed "Who's Lovin' You" in honor of Jackson, who sang the Motown hit on the night the Jackson 5 won Amateur Night in 1967.

Billy Mitchell, the tour director of the Apollo, told the crowd he witnessed Jackson's victory there and "it was incredible."
In grand Apollo tradition, the audience cheers and jeers performers. On Wednesday, the theater presented a lineup of aspiring stars, and those whose Jackson performances weren't worthy were booed off the stage, followed by chants of "Michael! Michael!"
One of the night's stars, Zaccheus, 13, later posed for photos next to a poster of Jackson. He said the Apollo flew him out to Manhattan from Toledo, Ohio, where he lives, so that he could perform in Jackson's honor.

"I just pray before I get on stage," he said. "I mostly sang to Michael."
The event followed Tuesday's Apollo memorial service. Thousands of fans including director Spike Lee watched a video tribute to Jackson and danced to his songs.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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