The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever

  • Screenshots from the music video for Kate Bush's 1978 song “Wuthering Heights.” Contributed photos

  • A screenshot from the music video for Kate Bush's 1978 song "Wuthering Heights." Contributed photo—

  • Sheryl Hunter, Sounds Local Andy Castillo

Published: 7/4/2019 9:00:15 PM
Modified: 7/4/2019 9:00:05 PM

With flowers in their hair, thousands of men, women and children from all over the world will dress in red Saturday, July 13, to do their best impression of a swirly, twirly dance made famous by British singer-songwriter Kate Bush in her 1978 video for the song “Wuthering Heights.” 

The event is called The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever and it will take place in such places as Tel Aviv, Sydney, Dublin, Paris, Austin, Boston and Greenfield.

That’s right, Greenfield. Beginning at 4:30 p.m., the Greenfield Energy Park will be full of dancers ready to celebrate their love of the music of Kate Bush by participating in this world-wide dance event.

For those of you not familiar with her, Kate Bush is a British singer-songwriter who rose to prominence in the late 1970s. She was far more famous in her homeland than here in the United States, but her fans here, while fewer in number, are known for their devotion. According to Bush legend, her first encounter with “Wuthering Heights” came in 1977 when she caught the closing minutes of the BBC miniseries. Bush, whose last recording was released in 2014, supposedly wrote the song in a single night, crafting lyrics from the dialogue of the character of Catherine Earnshaw.

In 1978 at the age of 18, Bush released “Wuthering Heights” as her debut single and became the first female artist to achieve a UK no. one with a self-written song. She released two videos for the song one where she’s dressed in white and the more popular version that spurred The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever, where she is dressed all in red. (The videos are available on YouTube).

Musician Vanessa Brewster and her friend, Abby Rusk, both members of the Massachusetts Kate Bush Society, the group that is hosting the Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever here in Greenfield, are diehard Kate Bush fans who shared their love of her music when they were college roommates. 

“We learned the dance and we would do it all the time,” recalled Brewster about the interpretive dance that Bush performed in the classic video. “We actually started talking about starting a Kate Bush dance troupe called KaBush,” she added with a laugh.

Both Brewster and Rusk were quite excited when they found out that a group of fellow Kate Bush fans in England had found a very heartfelt way to pay tribute to the singer and the “Wuthering Heights” video.

In 2013, hundreds of UK fans came together in Brighton in an attempt to set a record for the most people dressed like Kate Bush together in one location. They called the event The Ultimate Kate Bush Experience and recreated the iconic Wuthering Heights dance. A video of these dancers quickly went viral, sparking similar events across the world.  

Every year since then, a public dance has taken place in various cities around the world. It was originally intended to be held on July 30, as that is the day that both Kate Bush and Emily Bronte share a birthday, but was shifted to July 13 for scheduling reasons.

“My friend, Desi, was the one who found out about these dances happening all over,” said Brewster. “The three of us had done it as karaoke, but then he finds out that this happens every year and we thought we could do it here in Greenfield.”

The Massachusetts Kate Bush Society, with sponsorship support from Looky Here, a creative workspace and art gallery located on Chapman Street, are responsible for making this event happen here and all are welcome to participate.

You don’t have to have any dance experience or even knowledge of the choreography in the video to take part.

Head to Energy Park at 4:30 p.m. on July 13 and there will be instruction for how to do the “Wuthering Heights” dance. The four-and-a-half-minute choreography includes moves such as the zombie walk, the totally Kate Bush lateral kick, the “Heathcliff-up-down” and a fancy arm flutter dubbed “the pterodactyl.” If you check out the video you’ll see that the dance has a gloriously goofy quality about it, but that’s part of what makes it so much fun.

All participants are asked to wear red, as that is a big part of the experience. Green eye shadow, floral hairpieces and brunette wigs have also been favorite accessories for those trying to channel their inner Cathy.

The actual dance performance will take place at 5:30 p.m. and there will be an after-party at the nearby Root Cellar featuring music and dancing with admission free for those in Kate Bush costume. 

So far, 800 people have responded to the “2019 Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever/Western Mass.” Facebook event page, and while both Brewster and Rusk don’t expect quite that many people, they are optimistic that they will have a good turnout.

“I’m amazed at how many people I know who already know this dance,” said Brewster. “It’s just beautiful and very strange and easy to learn.” 

“It’s pretty special,” added Rusk. “I think a lot of people love the song and love Kate Bush and love the dance. I know that I do. I think they’ll come.”

There is a $5 suggested donation to help cover the cost of renting Energy Park at 50 Miles St. in the center of Greenfield.

Learning to rockat Rock Shop

While most kids go to summer camp to learn how to swim or to hone their skills at archery, those that attend the Rock Shop summer camp in Greenfield might learn the role that Ozzy Osbourne played in the history of rock or how to slay a crowd with a breathtaking guitar solo.

Rock Shop is a different kind of summer camp. It’s where kids come together and learn about the ins and outs of playing metal music by actually coming together and forming a band.

Rock Shop is led by Matt Kim who is the owner of the Academy of Rock at 219 Main St. in Greenfield. The academy is geared toward middle school to high school students, although Kim said he is open to anyone who is motivated. “We always have some folks who are brand new to Rock Shop, or even playing and performing,” said Kim.  “They just need to want to try.”

This year’s Rock Shop will begin on Monday and run until July 12 at the Academy of Rock. 

“The program is structured in that I like to keep attendance small — no more than 10 to 12 if it can be helped,” Kim said. “Bands are ‘formed,’ usually two to three. Then it is boots-on-the-ground, full throttle, no stopping.”

“The first day is usually nuts,” Kim continued. “It sounds like toddlers with pots and pans banging in the kitchen, metal blaring in the background. By the end of the week they have become elite troopers, commandos in the Metal Militia, marching for the cause.”

Kim is a guitar player and is a passionate rocker himself — he is also a self-described “metal head” whose passion and enthusiasm for music easily rubs off on his students. At Rock Shop, it’s not about being the best technical musician — it is about having a good time and celebrating the fun and power that comes from playing in a loud rock band.

At the end of the week-long program, the participants naturally get out there and rock. They will host a free show at Hawks and Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield on Friday, July 12 at 1 p.m., and a few higher-profile gigs will be happening later down the road when the musicians open the RPM Fest on Labor Day at the Millers Falls Rod and Gun Club. They are also scheduled to play at the Franklin County Fair in September. For more information, call 413-824-9222.

Sheryl Hunter is a music writer who lives in Easthampton. Her work has appeared in various regional and national magazines. You can contact her at soundslocal@yahoo.com.




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