Typifying the enterprising festive events that take place around the country, the Let’s Dance Festival stems from the legendary David Bowie’s surprise appearance at the outback Carinda Hotel.
Australia prides itself on festival events based in local history, locally produced produce, or simply the crazy quirks of its local inhabitants, most taking place in the warmer, harvest months of Spring and Summer.
Shining examples are seen in Parkes’ Elvis Festival, assorted pumpkin-rolling, melon-skiing and tuna-tossing events, and Red Centre camel races.
In 1984, British pop icon David Bowie selected the tiny far west New South Wales town of Carinda and its corner pub for the filming of his Let’s Dance video clip (see below) – rumoured to be a subtle statement on what he saw as Australia’s endemic racism, and considered by many devotees as his most powerful video.
Carinda is just over 600 kilometres north-west of Sydney, and in its prime boasted a thriving community with industry, shops, a cinema and no less than two football teams. Today all that remains is a service station and the pub, which has become something of a mecca for Bowie fans from around the world.
While most of the residents are gone, and few remember that historic day when the thin white Duke came to town, those that are left see it as an opportunity to keep Carinda on the map.
Leveraging its fleeting and somewhat controversial link to rock ‘n roll history, the Let’s Dance Carinda took place over the long weekend, “paying tribute to David Bowie and his remarkable music legacy”.
This year the festival featured famed Bowie impersonator Jeff Duff and his band, who played at the Showground, and performed a re-enactment of the famous video in the Hotel.
“I’ve been a passionate Bowie disciple most of my life and plan on doing whatever I can to keep the great man’s legacy alive!” said Duff.
These types of events can put small towns on a tourist map, or at least bring a big boost to local activity and visitors for the given period; the Melon Fest feeds $3.5 million into the Queensland town of Chinchilla, the population swelling from five and a half to 20-thousand.
Similarly, Tamworth’s Country Music Festival and Parkes’ celebration of Elvis not only pump millions into the local economy and businesses, largely hospitality and tourist-focused enterprises, the catchment of potential attendees can be near limitless, both of these having become renowned globally as first-class celebrations.
For more on Festivals and their pubs, see this month’s edition of PubTIC Magazine.