StrandArcade1982

Scene in the Strand Arcade 1982. Contributed by National Archives of Australia [A6180, 13/12/82/18]

Well, it’s a sad opening to 2016 for music fans with the gob-smacking announcement of the death of David Bowie on Monday night. So I thought we should pay tribute to him and acknowledge a special Sydney connection. He filmed the videoclip for “Let’s Dance” – one of my favourite Bowie songs – partly in a pub in Carinda (north-west NSW) and then partly in Sydney. So we get some landscapes of Sydney from around 1983, when the the song was released. Here’s the link to the clip on YouTube.

There are a few scenes you might recognise – on the harbour, at a Sydney beach, in a machine shop (this was in Guildford), in the Strand Arcade, and just down the road from the studio, literally on the road on Broadway among the traffic.

The young Aboriginal pair, Terry Roberts and Joelene King, were chosen from Sydney’s Aboriginal and Islander Dance Theatre to star in the video. Bowie said in an interview at the time that he wanted to present Australian Indigenous people in a capitalist white society and highlight the conflicts and difficulties between the two cultures. He also called out Australia for what it was – an extremely racist country.

And Bowie also filmed another clip in Sydney on the same album – China Girl.

There are scenes down around the Chinatown district in a restaurant and along Dixon Street, and again there are scenes of Sydney Harbour showing a hydrofoil (remember them?) heading towards Circular Quay, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and the Sydney Opera House, with a musician playing the double bass on the Man O’War Steps. Again, this was a song that explored racism.

You can read more about Bowie’s socio-political stance in these songs here: http://www.bowiedownunder.com/letsdancevideos/letsdancevideos.htm

And I bet you can nominate some other film clips of international artists that incorporate some great scenes of Sydney. Let us know.

Miss today’s segment? You can catch up here via the 2SER website. We are back for another great year of Sydney history segments in partnership with 2SER. Tune in 2SER Breakfast with Mitch Byatt on 107.3 every Wedensday morning at 8:20 am.

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