Australians felt a special connection to Tina Turner through the Nutbush Dance and Rugby League

Melbourne, Australia — The death of Tina Turner is being mourned worldwide. But many people in Australia felt a special connection with the singer.

Australia holds the world record for most people dancing to ‘Nutbush City Limits’ and Turner became the face of rugby league for a generation of Australians after appearing in the sport’s popular television adverts. She is credited with increasing the viewership of women’s rugby league in Australia.

The American-born singer died on Wednesday at the age of 83 at her home in Küsnacht near Zurich. He became a Swiss citizen a decade ago.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told Sydney radio station WSFM that Turner “gave a soundtrack to our lives.” He said he was a legend who overcame domestic violence and trauma to achieve global success.

Even the US Embassy in Australia took issue with a Twitter video of them dancing.

“In honor of Tina Turner, we have decided to learn the Nutbush, Australia’s unofficial national dance,” the embassy wrote.

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Australians developed their own line dance moves to the song in the years following its release in 1973, and the popularity of the dance spread to schools. The Australian dance, which is somewhat similar to the Madison, did not resemble Turner’s own dance moves.

The Guinness World Records website lists the largest Nutbush Dance of over 1,700 people at the 2018 Birdsville Big Red Bash music festival.

The site may not have caught up with subsequent record attempts at the Australian festival. Last year, more than 4,000 dancers took part. And in July, organizers hope to eclipse 5,000 dancers in a special tribute to mark Turner’s death and 50 years since the song’s release.

For many Australians, Turner was synonymous with rugby league, appearing in the sport’s commercials and grand finals. His first campaign, “What You Get Is What You See,” was a collaboration aimed at re-energizing his career and giving the sport a marketing hit.

There was immediate negative feedback, with many coaches and critics questioning the idea. But it turns out it was probably the biggest marketing decision ever made by the Australian Rugby League.

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The league’s “Simply the Best” campaign took off in 1990, and administrators struggled to find a marketing strategy that approximated it for the next three decades.

Former Australian Rugby League boss John Quayle recalled how his team managed to buy the rights to “The Best” for five years, securing it as the sport’s long-held anthem and the subject of Turner’s famous commercials.

“He got to the grand final in ’93 and then we sponsored one of his national tours, which was amazing,” Quayle told Seven’s Sunrise programme. “She was a wonderful lady, she had such a good relationship with the players that they felt so comfortable every time she went on a set.”

He said the rugby league ads featuring ‘The Best’ were aimed at increasing the number of women watching the sport. They were a huge success, dramatically increasing female audiences and captivating Australians.

“This topic increased the coverage of women in the game by about 60% at the time,” Quayle said.

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George Miller, who directed Turner and Mel Gibson in the 1985 film “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome,” said Turner was a wonderful person with a generous spirit. He described how he made sure the crew drank water while filming scenes in the heat of South Australia.

“Of course she wasn’t a diva with Tina Turner, she was a very strong, very wise person,” Miller told ABC TV.

Singer Jimmy Barnes, who recorded a duet with Turner for the Simply the Best campaign, said it was an honor to work with someone as “talented, strong and dedicated” as Turner.

“Being able to sing and be on stage with such an amazing person was one of the highlights of my career,” she said on social media.


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