Tina Turner may be known as the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll, but in Australia, she is also the Queen of Rugby League. The legendary singer’s 1973 hit Nutbush City Limits has inspired a popular line dance that has become a staple of Australian culture.
The Nutbush dance is a simple routine that involves stepping side to side, kicking, clapping and turning. It is performed at various events, from school halls and weddings to sporting matches and festivals. Aussies have set several world records for the dance, with the latest being 1752 people dancing in unison in 2019.
But how did a song about a small town in Tennessee become an Aussie favourite? The answer lies in Turner’s personal connection to Australia and her lasting impact on the country’s music and sports scenes.
Turner first visited Australia in 1974 with her then-husband Ike Turner as part of their world tour. She returned in 1977 as a solo act and wowed the audiences with her powerful voice and energetic stage presence. She also befriended several Australian celebrities, such as Olivia Newton-John and Molly Meldrum.
In 1984, Turner launched her extraordinary solo comeback with the album Private Dancer, which featured hits like What’s Love Got to Do With It and Better Be Good to Me. The album was a huge success in Australia, reaching number one on the charts and selling over a million copies.
Turner also became the face of rugby league in Australia, thanks to her collaboration with the National Rugby League (NRL) in the late 1980s and early 1990s. She recorded a version of her song Simply the Best with Jimmy Barnes and starred in several commercials for the sport. She also performed at the NRL grand finals in 1993 and 2000.
Turner’s influence on Australia is undeniable. As Meldrum once said, “She’s part of our culture. She’s part of our history.” And as Turner herself said in a recent documentary, “I had an amazing relationship with the people there. They really got me.”
The Nutbush dance is a tribute to Turner’s legacy and a celebration of her spirit. It is a way for Aussies to express their love and admiration for the icon who has given them so much joy and inspiration.