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Let's Dance: Back to Carinda, 2007

In 2007, Australian Bowie fan 'Freestate' went back to the site of the Let's Dance video in remote New South Wales. Following are his reflections and photos...


For the 'Let's Dance' video, David Bowie 'drove to the sheep-country outpost of Carinda, walking into the one-room pub of the local hotel and charming the locals by talking cricket.' .

~ p221, Christopher Sandford's 'Bowie: Loving The Alien' (Revised Edition 1997).

 

Carinda Hotel exterior and interior as it appears in the Let's Dance video.


Since the mid-80s I've frequently driven up through northern New South Wales to visit family and friends, and on my most recent 2700km trip I decided to track the Carinda Hotel down to see if it was still there, and to see how much it had changed if it was. Carinda can be found using Google Earth - just search for; carinda, nsw, australia and you'll find it, though it's a low resolution satellite photo. The Carinda Hotel is listed in the phone book.

So on the way home last Thursday 3rd May 2007 I took a 600km detour to visit Carinda. The pub is still there, although the exterior and interior have changed a bit since 1983.

The Carinda turnoff on the Castlereigh Highway.
Picture by Freestate of Mind Warp Pavillion.

55km of dirt road. Not really designed for two-wheel-drive vehicles!
Picture by Freestate of Mind Warp Pavillion.
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Carinda township - population 180 (including surrounding cattle stations). 130 metres above sea level.
Picture by Freestate of Mind Warp Pavillion.

Carinda Hotel exterior, May 2007.
Pictures by Freestate of Mind Warp Pavillion.

Carinda Hotel interior, May 2007. Notice that although the wall tiles have been replaced by wood panelling, the ceiling has been repainted and the pool table is gone the floor is still the same!
Pictures by Freestate of Mind Warp Pavillion.


Interesting Anecdotes:

* At the Carinda Hotel I met a few of the locals. One was a woman (the pub's cook who's name I didn't get) who had been there when Bowie spent the day filming in early 1983. She recognised a lot of the people who appeared in the bar scenes of the promo, though she herself didn't appear in it. She was familiar with the promo as Bowie had organised for the Let's Dance Video EP to be sent to the Carinda Hotel. It was autographed and I offered to buy it, offering up to $200 for it, but she just smiled and said "no". These are the stories she told me when I asked her about that day.

* It's incorrect to call the country around Carinda sheep-country - it's too far West. It's cattle country. -

* The horse you can see in the very first scene, as the cattle truck goes by, was tied up there nearly all day. The locals eventually intervened telling Bowie's people that it was cruel to leave it in the sun that long. After that it was put in the shade behind the pub and only brought out when filming was actually taking place. The appearance of the horse was, of course, staged. Nobody, then or now, rides a horse into town.

* Back in 1983 the streets of Carinda were still dirt roads. They had a problem with the amount of dust the cattle truck driving by raised so they had to sweep the road outside the pub to reduce the dust.

* The locals that appear in the bar scenes were not paid. However, Bowie did pay for an 'open bar', the word spread quickly around town and lots of people turned up. By the time the bar scenes were filmed after rehearsals everyone was quite drunk! The bar scenes were filmed over and over and the ones that appear in the promo were close to the last filmed.


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