Red dresses abound as diehard Kate Bush fans celebrate Wuthering Heights Day

Small but dedicated groups of Kate Bush fans braved the cold in Christchurch and Dunedin for a tribute dance and fundraiser celebrating her song Wuthering Heights as part of a global event on Saturday.

In “The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever” annual event, fans gather to recreate the iconic 1978 music video in which Bush appears in a misty rural English setting, wearing a red boho-style dress and dancing in a trance-like state.

The event first took place in 2016, inspired by British theatrical group Shambush’s The Ultimate Kate Bush Experience – held as part of the Brighton Fringe festival in 2013.

Inspired by the 1847 gothic novel by Emily Bronte, the song is written from the perspective of the character Cathy who appears as a ghost to her lover, Heathcliff.

Co-organiser Louise McHaffie (R) performs during The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever in Christchurch.

KAI SCHWOERER/Stuff

Co-organiser Louise McHaffie (R) performs during The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever in Christchurch.

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Bush achieved global stardom with her first single, at the age of 19 – and was the first female artist and song-writer in the United Kingdom to achieve a number-one single.

Christchurch co-organiser Julianne Taylor, 55, remembers being transfixed by Wuthering Heights when it appeared on a weekly pop music television show Ready to Roll as a teenager.

“I was an instant fan.

“It was just so different, and kind of eerie and ethereal. It was very unusual, the dance moves, the dress, the fact she had written it herself and done the video was incredibly inspiring.”

In Dunedin, the annual event at the Octagon was a fundraiser for men’s mental health.

Hamish McNeilly/Stuff

In Dunedin, the annual event at the Octagon was a fundraiser for men’s mental health.

Taylor said the combination of Bush’s voice and her “interpretive slash ballet dance movements” fascinated people.

Bush has been enjoying a renaissance in popularity after her song Running Up That Hill featured in an episode of the Stranger Things television series.

The event was first held in Christchurch in 2016 and Taylor said fans were inspired to do it again this year on the singer’s 64th birthday.

On both occasions it took place in the city’s red zone, where over 8000 houses were demolished after the 2011 earthquakes.

In Dunedin, the annual event at the Octagon was a fundraiser for men’s mental health, organised by mayoral candidate Mandy Mayhem Bullock.

The event was first held in Christchurch in 2016.

KAI SCHWOERER/Stuff

The event was first held in Christchurch in 2016.

Donations of $650 were raised and will go to mental health organisation Wellness, Empathy, Kindness Aotearoa (WEKA), Bullock said.

The 49-year-old said it was good the event happened in Aotearoa’s winter “when we know people get the blues, they get depressed, they don’t get out and about”.

She said the song, like the book, captured feelings of “angst” experienced in troubled relationships.

“I think we all identify with that desperation, and the song is so passionate and..out on the wily moors, there’s that romantic imagery.”

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