Passers-by of Haig Park in Braddon will see a lot of red next weekend.
A crowd of more than 100 people in their finest red outfits – complete with a red rose pinned in the hair – will be performing their best impression of English singer-songwriter Kate Bush in her 1978 ‘Wuthering Heights’ music video.
It’s described as ‘The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever’ and it’s a global phenomenon.
“I’ve been running the event in Canberra since 2017, but it was created in 2016 and happens in about 60 cities around the world,” organiser Dr Brooke Thomas says.
“We have all ages, all genders, all abilities and it’s just delightful and positive and inspiring.”
Younger generations might know Kate Bush for ‘Running Up That Hill’, a 1985 song picked up again by Netflix series Stranger Things in 2022. It went on to become the most streamed song on Spotify.
But Bush wrote ‘Wuthering Heights’ at the age of 18, inspired by the ghost of female protagonist Catherine Earnshaw in the 1847 novel Wuthering Heights (she and author Emily Bronte shared the same birthday too).
The song hit the top of the charts around the world when released, together with two music videos in which Kate posed as the ghost, dressed all in red with a red rose in her hair. One of these has her performing “out in the wily, windy moors”.
Later in 2013, UK performance art group Shambush! attempted to set a world record for the most people dressed as Kate Bush in one place.
Three years later, the ‘The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever’ kicked off as an official event on Bush’s birthday – 30 July – with performances from Berlin and Montreal to Adelaide and Melbourne.
Bush herself has previously described it as “very touching and sweet”.
Dr Thomas, chief of staff for the ACT Cultural Facilities Corporation, last month held a similar public flashmob-style ‘Nutbush’ dance in honour of Tina Turner outside the Canberra Theatre Centre. But this year marks the seventh event for Kate.
“Bush loved contemporary dance and brought contemporary dance into a lot of her music videos, and I find people love the opportunity to learn to do that dance,” Dr Thomas says.
This year’s event, supported by the Canberra Dance Theatre and the City Renewal Authority (CRA), starts at 10 am in Haig Park on Saturday, 29 July. There’ll be a warm-up song followed by two plays of ‘Wuthering Heights’.
“We do a warm-up to a different Kate Bush song every year,” Dr Thomas explains.
“This year, we’re warming up to ‘Rubber Band Girl’. We get together, we get everybody warm, and then we generally do ‘Wuthering Heights’ twice – once to get the nerves out before everyone settles in for the second.”
Everyone is encouraged to join in, regardless of whether they have a right foot and a left foot, or just two left feet.
“Parts of it are quite difficult, but I work really hard to make the dance accessible for all participants. It’s not about being perfect – it’s about just getting involved. People can wear red outfits of any description and do the dance as best they can and just hopefully smile and have fun.”
There’ll even be dogs, under a new add-on event called ‘Hounds of Love’, honouring another Bush song and album.
“People have shown up in the past with their dogs dressed up in red, so this year we’re going to have a a little fashion parade and a prize for the best dressed Wuthering Heights dog,” Dr Thomas says.
It might all be fun, but there’s a serious side to the event too. Globally, it’s intended as an opportunity to raise funds for services that support women, and Canberra’s rendition is no different. From day one, it has raised more than $10,000 for the Domestic Violence Crisis Service (DVCS), which has provided support, advice, resources to families in the ACT and beyond for more than 30 years.
“It’s a get-together for a good cause,” Dr Thomas says.
“I love every single year – the sense of joy and community is so helpful at these events.”
Visit ‘The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever – Canberra’ Facebook page for more information.
Original Article published by James Coleman on Riotact.