This post was originally written in 2012. With the recent passing of this great man who touched so many, it seems fitting to repost. Vale DB and thank you x
Below is David Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’ video clip.
Filmed in 1983 in Carinda, a town with one pub about 645 kilometres out over the Blue Mountains in NSW, the clip is surreal to me. It seems so bizarre to see a David Bowie hanging out at the Carinda pub, juxtaposed onto a dry, hot and dusty Australian landscape. Of all the places in the world David could choose to make a clip, he chose outback NSW. But why?
This clip is as much about indigenous rights as it is about young love and dancing. After digging around a bit online, I discovered that ‘Let’s Dance’ was filmed around the time of ‘China Girl‘. Both songs were used as catchy, upbeat vessels for Bowie’s sociological commentary on a situation he didn’t think was right. He was at the height of his career. The world was his stage and he had the power to reach millions.
In a Rolling Stone interview excerpt from May 1983, Bowie, (somewhat bashfully) explains that both clips were “..very direct. And the message that they have is very simple – it’s wrong to be racist!”.
Bowie had a son (Duncan Zowie Haywood Jones) in the early 70s and by the early 80s was beginning to realise that “Having a child to care for points up one’s purpose.. To see him grow, and be excited about the future – and then you think, ‘Oh.. the future, yes. Um, I’ll see what I can do'”. He felt a responsibility to use his massive influence in a productive, selfless kind of way.
“I could do something more useful.. I feel that now that I’m thirty-six years old, and I’ve got a certain position, I want to start utilising that position to the benefit of my… brotherhood and sisterhood.” He continues on to say, “I’ve found it’s very easy to be successful in other terms, but I think you can’t keep on being an artist without actually saying anything more than, ‘Well, this is an interesting way of looking at things.'”
A poignant message, beautifully portrayed through song and impacting cinematography, ‘Let’s Dance’ is David Bowie using his power for social good. Using music to introduce the world to Australia’s indigenous peoples, and highlight the struggle that is unfortunately still very real thirty years later.
For more information on David Bowie’s relationship with our sunburnt country, check out bowiedownunder.com.