Wuthering Heights is often regarded as one of the greatest romantic novels of all time. Though in hindsight, that may be a mistake.
The book – and to even greater extent, the 1978 Kate Bush hit it inspired – is now being used in cities all over the word to make a spectacle and stance against domestic violence and abuse. The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever (MWHDE) has been running in cities around the world since 2016 and encourages people to don red dresses and brunette wigs and join a public performance of the dance made famous in Kate Bush’s film clip.
This year, Townsville will join in the choreography and conversation happening in locations across the globe, through an event hosted by the Family Inclusion Network and supported by the Townsville Women’s Centre.
Event organiser Rebecca Smith said it was something she’d wanted to take part in since seeing photos and footage from the event that started it all – a 2013 World Record attempt for the most people dressed as Kate Bush in one location.
“First I saw it on the internet, all these people dancing in red in England … then last year I was driving my car around and I heard people [on the radio] talking about their Most Wuthering Heights Days,” said Rebecca. “Actually that happened two years in a row, and I thought ‘I wish we could have one’. And then I thought ‘Damn it, we’ll just have to have one. Even if it’s just me and my daughter’, so I have been rallying up people and trying to get people interested. There are many die-hard Kate Bush fans, who always wanted to be Kate Bush in that song dancing around.”
Rebecca said it was interesting that so many generations of young women had grown up thinking Wuthering Heights (the novel and the song) was a sweeping, romantic tale; when its central relationships really hinge on abuse, revenge and possession.
“When you listen to the song it sounds like this unrequited love and passion; I think that’s what attracted me when I was little – the dramatics of ‘Heathcliff please come back and let me in’,” mused Rebecca. “But then three years ago I read the book and it’s horrible … When you’re young it just seems so romantic. But the realities of the books are revolting.”
While Rebecca said it was hard to measure the behavioural change enacted by events like MWHDE, the dance rehearsals being held at the Townsville Women’s Centre were already proving their worth in connecting people from different walks of life.
“That’s what I like about it – it gets women out and enjoying each other’s company. You get to meet new people through a common cause of dancing like an idiot, but that’s great.”
While the rehearsals at the Townsville Women’s Centre are only open to women, Rebecca is in the process of organising other rehearsal locations that will be open to all.
“We’ll welcome all types on the day – all ages, all genders, all abilities!”
Townsville’s inaugural Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever will be held at 4pm on 15 July 2018 at Strand Park. For more information, rehearsal times and choreography tutorials, see the Townsville’s Most Wuthering Heights Day Facebook Event.