Let's Dance Carinda: Outback town that starred in Bowie clip taps into history to kick-start new festival

Let's Dance Carinda: Outback town that starred in Bowie clip taps into history to kick-start new festival

Let's Dance Carinda: Outback town that starred in Bowie clip taps into history to kick-start new festival

Updated 2 October 2017, 20:10 AEDT

The NSW outback town of Carinda, which was the back drop to the Let's Dance David Bowie film clip, attempts to re-enact the video with the help of flamboyant Australian artist Jeff Duff.

In its heyday, Carinda was a bustling outback town — there was a cinema, shops, two football teams and a thriving community.

Now, there's a pub and a petrol station.

But that hasn't stopped the remaining residents of this far western New South Wales town coming together to keep their home on the map.

Carinda has looked back to its link to rock and roll history to kick-start what it hopes will be an annual festival.

Thirty-four years ago David Bowie surprised the tiny town with a visit — and no-one who was there that day has ever forgotten.

At 26 years of age, Jude Masman said she was star-struck.

She met the singer, who she considered her idol, and found herself speechless.

"I am just standing there going absolutely hopeless. I just wish I could have talked to him more," she said.

David Bowie's death last year refocused attention on the town, which the world-renowned artist used as a backdrop to expose what he saw as Australia's endemic racism.

'People need to have some fun'

Today, the people of Carinda remain as divided as ever over the point he was trying to make.

Mo Regan is one of the organisers of the event.

She returned to Carinda four years ago.

"You've got your racists and your non-racists and I think it is just everywhere. Australia is big on that," Ms Regan said.

Her sister, sitting next to her on the verandah of the pub Bowie made famous, disagrees.

"I think it is more the opposite way actually — I think we are less racist," she said.

The organisers of Let's Dance Carinda said the festival's key purpose was to bring people together to have some fun.

"Life on the land is hard. Years of dry weather takes its toll. People need to have some fun," they said.

The closest thing to the real Bowie

The town has turned to legendary Bowie tribute artist Jeff Duff — a performer whose own career has much in common with Bowie — to headline the town's festival.

Duff, who self-effacingly describes himself as "an A-lister in London for about five minutes", first met Bowie there in the 1980s when he came to see Duff perform.

They reconnected when Bowie lived in Sydney, and for a time they were neighbours.

For the people of Carinda, he is the closest they will ever get to seeing the real thing again.

"It's a gamble — putting up the money in the hope that people will come," one resident said on the eve of the festival.

Duff said he was happy to keep the memory of the artist alive.

"It's horrible to say that death had made him more popular, but it has," Duff said.

Call out around town cast the Let's Dance 'skit'

Jude Masman was in her 20s when Bowie came to town, and she almost missed seeing him.

"It was pretty much kept hush-hush until he showed up. Only the publican knew and he was told not to tell anyone," Ms Masman said.

Carinda was ultimately chosen because of the location of its hotel, on a corner, or so goes the folklore.

Ms Masman said who was chosen to appear in the video came down to a call-out around town.

"All the young people were out working [so] when they got here there was no-one in the pub so they had to ring up all around the town," she said.

"They got all the older people to come in, and they got the bus driver's wife, the policeman's wife and a few others and they were in the Let's Dance skit."

The chance to re-enact the video has come around again — this time it is Jeff Duff and his band paying homage to a legend.

Watch Ginny Stein's story on Lateline on Monday at 9:30pm AEDT on ABC News and 10:30pm on ABC TV.