When I’m feeling depressed or uninspired, I can always count on one of my favorite visionary musicians to remind me just how much wild weirdness and unexpected beauty the world contains. That person is Kate Bush, and for all of her many brilliant songs—too many to name—the touchstone for true fans will always be her first single, “Wuthering Heights,” written when she was only 16, recorded two years later, and turned into two astonishing videos. The first, UK version does Kate’s ethereal strangeness justice, without a doubt, placing her on a dark stage, in flowing white gown, fog machine at her feet, showcasing her idiosyncratic dance moves with several double-exposure versions of herself. All very Kate, but we’d seen this kind of thing before, if only at the meetings of our high school drama club.
It really wasn’t until the second, U.S. video’s release that audiences fully grasped the uniqueness of her genius. In this version, above, the young prodigy—who trained, by the way, with David Bowie’s mime and dance teacher Lindsay Kemp—appears in a flowing, Bohemian red gown, matching tights, and black belt, haunting a “wiley, windy” moor like Catherine Earnshaw, the doomed heroine of Emily Brontë’s novel.
Everything about this: the flowers in her hair, the editing tricks that have her fading in and out of the shot like a ghost, and most especially the fully uninhibited dance moves—not confined this time to the boundaries of a stage (which could never contain her anyway)…. It’s perfect, the very acme of melodramatic theatricality, and simply could not be improved upon in any possible way.
And so when fans seek to pay tribute to Kate Bush, they invariably call back to this video. In 2013, Kate Bush parody troupe Shambush! organized a group dance in Brighton, with 300 eager fans in red dresses and wigs, each one doing their best Kate Bush impression in a synchronized comedy homage. This year, on July 16th, a flashmob gathered in Berlin’s Tempelhof Field for “The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever,” breaking the Shambush! record for most Kate Bush-attired dancing fans in one place. See them at the top of the post. Other flashmobs assembled around the world as well, in London, Wellington, Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne, and elsewhere, reports German site Tonspion. Melbourne, it seems put on a particularly “strong showing of Bush-mania” (watch it above), according to Electronic Beats, who also suggest that next year the organizers “switch it up and find a good forest for a ‘The Sensual World‘ flashmob.” That is indeed a stunning video, and it’s very hard to choose a favorite among Bush’s many visual masterpieces, but I’d like to see them try the wartime choreography of “Army Dreamers” next.
300 Kate Bush Impersonators Pay Tribute to Kate Bush’s Iconic “Wuthering Heights” Video
Kate Bush’s First Ever Television Appearance, Performing “Kite” & “Wuthering Heights” on German TV (1978)
2009 Kate Bush Documentary Dubs Her “Queen of British Pop”
Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness
To impersonate Kate Bush, just look astonished at your own hands