Michael Jackson’s Anti-gravity Shoes: His Own Invention Delighting the Public

Authors: Dr. Eugenijus Keras, Patent Consultant at METIDA, Dr. Jacekas Antulis, Associated Partner, Head of Patent Division at METIDA

8086369676_7697066188_zIt is 1930 in the US. A stylish dandy fearlessly enters gangsters’ inn. His white suit stands out from dark visitors’ clothes. His voguish fedora covers his eyes making it difficult to see his face. The whole posture of the discreet invader tells us that he is not here by coincidence. It has been a while when locals were confronted with the situation of this kind.

Everyone suddenly becomes attentive and you can hear quiet whispers, see suspicious looks and watch less fearful ones leaving the inn. Tension that the inn has not experienced for a long time fills in the room. The walls look like they are about to crack. The invader makes a sudden and short move. The locals are ready to grasp their guns when they realise that the stranger is not dangerous. Everyone is frozen. The stylish daredevil suddenly throws a coin which spins across the whole inn towards a jukebox in a remote corner. Everyone watches the coin soaring through the room, filled with tension, into the jukebox without touching its surface. Then, the music starts to play.

If you are a loyal fan of Michael Jackson, the king of pop music, you have probably recognised the scenes from a video clip of Smooth Criminal which is one of the legend’s most famous songs. As we all know, the pop king was not only a good singer, but also an amazing dancer. No doubt his dancing style and energy influenced the formation of the pop choreography. Even contemporary dancers imitate his dancing moves incorporating them into their performances.

In the described video clip Jackson introduces us with his new dancing move, a so called anti-gravity lean, i.e. dancers lean forward in such a degree that they could fall if no additional measures were taken. In the video clip, strings were believed to be used which were deleted whilst editing to create the anti gravity illusion. However, Jackson demonstrated this move in his live performances too, where the strings were definitely avoided.

At that time Michael and two other inventors filed a patent application for a “Method and means for creating anti-gravity illusion”. Since the invention met patentability requirements, on 26 October 1993 the inventors were granted with the patent (No. US5255452).

The patented shoe has a heel slot of a V shape with the mouth of the same shape at the leading edge of the heel which can be detachably engaged with the hitch member. The sharp part of the hitch member is fixed to a stage surface, whereas its blunt part is attachable to the heel slot of the dancer. This allows the dancer to lean forwardly beyond his center of gravity.

The invention was used in Jackson’s live performances to demonstrate anti-gravity lean movement that received a thundering ovation. In 1996 when performing in Moscow, the singer failed to attach to the hitch member fixed to the surface evoking some minor problems at the concert. Later, the shoes used in Moscow were sold for 600 thousand US dollars. It would be inaccurate to state that the value of the shoes was determined only by the invention itself, as well as deny that the shoes contributed to Jackson’s popularity.

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