In the 1950s, the dance was well known as "The Madison". Inspired by Tina Turner's song, a variation of the dance emerged again as "The Nutbush" in the 1970s disco era. A comparison of the step sheets, however, does not support the conclusion the dances are the same. The Nutbush particularly took off in Australia during the 1980s, and is usually performed in schools, social gatherings and community events. The dance has gained such popularity in Australia that it has been implemented in some Australian states' curriculums.
The dance is generally performed by a group of people both male and female at a social function. Also, the dance is performed with the dancers roughly in a box configuration, like that of a chess board.
The steps are fairly simple, such that one who does not know them can generally pick them up by watching other dancers. A key in the song and dance being a popular combination is that the song has a moderately long introduction before the strong dance beat starts, which allows people who are sitting down to get up and to the dance floor and for all dancers to assemble themselves in a grid. For comparison, see the song "Bus Stop".
The steps to the dance are as follows:
- Hands are generally placed akimbo and feet shoulder-width apart in a neutral position. The following moves take place on the beat of the drum during the song.
- The right foot is moved a step to the right, and then returned to the initial stance with a step. This is repeated, and then the same event takes place with the left foot, stepping left, and repeating. (8 beats)
- The dancers then step back half a pace and return to the original stance twice on the right foot and twice with the left. (8 beats)
- The right knee is brought across the body to approximately the height of the left hip twice, continuing with the left knee to right hip twice. (8 beats)
- This is followed by a single kick of the right leg across the body and following with the left. (4 beats)
- And finally, the last 4 beats of the song are colloquially known as "turn-and-clap" whereupon the dancers turn counter-clockwise ¼, pause, then clap.
Variations of the final step are known to occur. For example, jumping both feet out (beat 1), jumping and crossing over your legs (beat 2), then uncrossing out to the side (beat 3), and finally "do the clap." (beat 4)
On July 12, 2018 a Guinness World Record title was broken for the largest number of people performing the Nutbush line dance at The Big Red Bash, the world's most remote music festival, situated beneath the iconic 40 metre tall Big Red Dune on the edge of the Simpson Desert in outback Queensland. Crowds lined up to take part, dancing along to the renown Tina Turner classic as 1,719 people took part in the challenge, beating the original record of 522.
- http://www.bushfirepress.com/freebies/nutbush.html Bushfirepress.com
- "Dance of the people: Level 4 - Strand Dance: The Arts (2002) sourcebook modules" (PDF). Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority. The State of Queensland (The Office of the Queensland School Curriculum Council).
- http://www.bushfirepress.com/freebies/nutbush.html An instruction on how to perform "The Nutbush"
- https://m.themorningbulletin.com.au/news/guinness-world-record-broken-at-the-birdsville-big/3466195/#/0 Guinness world record broken
- http://www.bigredbash.com.au/bigredbash/index Festival where record was broken
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