Will you be one of the thousands today donning their floaty red dresses, wrapping a black floral scarf round your waist, pulling on the tights, tying a peony red rose choker round your neck and pinning red roses in your hair before busting out some dance moves for Heathcliffe? Yes… 16 July is the date for The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever and I tres am excited. I can’t go but my daughter and brother most definitely are so I am going to live vicariously through them.
What is this fabulous phenomena I hear you say? On 16 July people of all shapes and sizes and genders and ages from all over the world are frocking up and gathering in public spaces to dance to Kate Bush’s timeless classic Wuthering Heights. I once tried to understand the lyrics which seem to centre mainly around Cathy wanting Heathcliff but also about being cold…best not to over analyse it.
We have UK performance artists Shambush to thank for all of this. In 2013 they staged a world record breaking en masse interpretive dance to the strains of Kate Bush’s 1978 music video Wuthering Heights. On that occasion, over 300 Cathys flocked to Stanmer Park in Brighton, England for the then titled The Ultimate Kate Bush Experience.
But this July the costuming and the dancing is going even more global with Facebook events being independently hosted from Montreal to Atlanta from Sydney to Tel Aviv from Berlin to Brisbane , Uppsala to Perth and onto Malmö , Lisbon ,Copenhagen, Oslo, Hobart, Adelaide, Amsterdam ,Lancaster, Wellington NZ and even the Blue Mountains NSW. As you would expect, the biggest events will probably be the original Shambush Ultimate Kate Bush Experience in London and at King’s Domain in Melbourne, where nearly 5000 Cathy’s have already signed on including my family members and make no mistake, they are preparing with with Olympic zeal. With dance moves that even have their own name – zombie walk, horror hands and backwards pterodactyl – you know it’s serious.
Melbourne will be big but it must be said that Perth wins on the best poster that’s the feature image on this post.
I love these kind of gatherings – they speak to creativity and community and cleverness and sharing and joy. I was particularly enamored with the Pozible crowdfunder campaign being run independently Katherine Brandenberger – a fan and an attendee who was so motivated by a vision of men, women and children pouring off trains and trams dressed identically in complete, authentic and affordable red Kate Bush costumes, that she took to costume designing. She pledged that if the campaign went over target she would donate proceeds of economy of scale to Safe Steps Victoria to help support women and children victims of family violence.
I also love her description of the creative process. Now far be it for me to compare my humble gift wrapping efforts with her work but I do have some empathy with what it takes to create a look you have in your head. Katherine writes that she created the pattern for the ‘Cathy’ dress by analyzing the 1978 music video frame by frame, capturing dozens of screenshots. She then settled on a mid weight chiffon as it has a lovely flow in dance and is slightly sheer.
Because the dress is a wrap (and I love a wrap dress as my Wrap of a Wrap post shows) it can adjust to different body shapes and sizes. In a true reflection of the creative process, after consultation and experimentation Katherine added extra armhole width to the bishop sleeves for an even more billowy effect. More billow- yes please! The cuffs of her dresses have been made adjustable and trimmed with a pair of pearlescent cream buttons as in the original. Now that’s dedication.
Katherine says her major challenge was the pixie hemline, “which has required a quite tricky specialty machine cutting technique so as not to fray but also not need edging which would warp the points and distort”.
I had quite a bit of a think about my Most Wuthering Day Ever Wrap. How should I wrap the Kate Bush look? Should I go for a look that is as close as possible to the original or an homage to the complete ensemble? After more than a few attempts I settled on the later because my first attempt with red tissue paper styled to look like the pixie hemline did not work at all. I regrouped and wrapped with a red dress red coloured paper with a patterned black scarf cumberbund at an angle to reflect how Kate wore it around her waist. I added red roses on the wrap and more for the tag embellishment which I fashioned to represent the choker Kate. I stood back and had only one thought Heathcliff, it’s me, Viv Come home, I’m so cold!