A turn about the bush

06 June 2023

When music legend Tina Turner recently passed away, the mourning was felt particularly keenly in Australia. Ms Turner had a particularly rapt following in Australia for her wildly successful partnership with rugby league, Turner's hit "Simply the Best" still recognised as a league anthem decades on. 

But across Australia, and even in the non league states, Ms Turner was known and beloved by Australians because every child in Australia is taught the Nutbush. We are the only country that does this, and no one knows why it has somehow become a staple of the Australian education system to indoctrinate children into line dancing (it seems it was the NSW Department of Education who came up with the dance steps, which Ms Turner herself is not known to have ever performed).  

I never learned the Nutbush, since observing and carrying out a simple sequence of steps requires more physical skill than I will ever possess, but teaching schoolchildren the Nutbush provides two important benefits. First, it means there is a foolproof way to ascertain if those children, when grown to adulthood, are bogans: you did the Nutbush at your wedding? Congratulations, you're a bogan. But more importantly, it diverts schools from their weird obsession with teaching kids bush dances. 

Because for some reason, in 2023, schools still seem to believe that there is some physical and educational benefit in teaching children bush dancing, as I learned when my 11 year old came home from school, launched himself face down onto the sofa, and at length raised his head to gloomily announce that this term, his class was learning Australian bush dances. They still insist on mandating children partner wtith the opposite sex to take a turn around the school basketball court? Why can't the kids just play cricket or something? Australian children's performance in maths has been declining against the global average for two decades, which reactionary types like to blame on wokeness afflicting state curriculums. I know where the real blame lies; the weird obsession with Australian children's proficiency in the Pride of Erin.  

I suppose that in the rural Australia of the 19th Century where bush dancing evolved, there was some benefit in encouraging the mixing of the sexes in an atmosphere of wholesome fun (before everyone snuck out round the back of the shed to get drunk, have sex and slaughter the traditional owners of the land), but that seems like a rather antiquated goal now. I asked Mr 11 if he wanted me to write him a note asking that he be excused from dancing on the grounds that it's heteronormative bullshit, but he said the consequences of that would be worse than falling over the two left feet he's inherited. 

I guess I did find a use for the bush dancing I was taught; using those skills for the first time ever to (badly) teach Mr 11 the heel and toe polka, to Machu Picchu by the Strokes. 

The dancing sucked, but the song works surprisingly well with it, if you time things so the clapping bit of the dance lines up with the guitar interludes. Try it at home! I wonder if the band planned it that way; Lord knows syncing a song about drug use, crime and the troubled sexual mores of modern times with a traditional dance routinely taught to Australian schoolchildren wouldn't be the strangest thing Julian Casablancas has done. 

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