Heartbreak High gave the Nutbush the glory it deserves. The rest of the world is still baffled.

I'm not a particularly patriotic person. 

But a scene in season two of Heartbreak High legit brought a tear to my eye. The moment came at the school formal in episode eight, as a familiar guitar riff blared from the speakers, the Gen Z'ers rushed to the dance floor and something special began.

It is, of course, time for the Nutbush

This song was written and recorded by the late American music icon, Tina Tuner, yet for some mysterious reason has become Australia's unofficial anthem.

Tina's 'Nutbush City Limits' is played at every school dance, deb ball, wedding, Christmas party, or basically, any time a group of Aussies congregates on a dance floor. 

At long last, Nutbushers are now represented in the mainstream on Netflix's Heartbreak High, a wildly popular teen series viewed around the world. I must say, the patriotism leaped from my body watching a bunch of cool teens do the daggiest of dances. 

And already, the Australian pride from this moment is FOR REAL.


So what the bloody hell is the Nutbush dance?

Let's go back to the beginning. Ike and Tina Turner released 'Nutbush City Limits' in 1973, and it became a huge hit — especially in Australia. The song itself is actually about Turner's hometown of Nutbush in Tennessee, which has a rural community known for cotton growing.

So yeah... no obvious Australian connection whatsoever. 

Turner did not choreograph any of Australia's signature dance moves. In fact, when Turner performed the song on stage she would do her signature energetic dance... a very different energy to Australia's stiff and robotic interpretation. 

In fact, most people outside of Australia have no clue why we have a national dance to this Tina Turner hit. 


@smacmccreanor Traditional folk dance from Australia @TikTok Australia #nutbush #aussiethings #tinaturner #thenutbush ♬ Nutbush City Limits - Ike & Tina Turner

A popular comment on the above video reads "As a Canadian living here I must say the first time this came on at a bar and everyone started dancing I felt like I was in a different dimension." 

An Australian TikToker then offered an excellent point. "Can we talk about the fact that nobody ever remembers LEARNING the Nutbush? Like was the information just mass downloaded?"

Either way, non-Aussies have long been baffled by the chokehold this song has on locals, given that it's a tune about a town on the opposite side of the world from Australia.

@kayywuerf Cupid shuffle anyone?😅 #fyp #aussie #aussiethings #american #cultureshock #usa #sydney #australia #nutbush ♬ Nutbush City Limits - Ike & Tina Turner

Sure, there's the 'Macarena' or the 'YMCA' dance, but most Aussies would agree that no other dance holds a candle to the Nutbush. From the city to the regions and clearly throughout multiple generations (including Netflix teens), nothing hits quite like the Nutbush. 


Its enduring popularity will never stop shocking people outside Australia. 

@seanbarryparsons This rocked my world. #australia #straya #aussies #Oz #nutbush #nutbushdance #TinaTurner #discoveries #gaytiktok #revelation #nutbushcitylimits ♬ original sound - Sean Barry Parsons

Where did the Nutbush dance come from?

For fifty years, the origin of the Nutbush dance has been largely unknown, which only adds to its mystique. 

Did we learn it in the womb? Did we all grasp the Nutbush before we learned to walk? Did someone teach it at school? Who? WHO TAUGHT IT? 

But the mystery might have been solved.

A professor at the University of South Australia's School of Creative Industries, Jon Stratton, investigated the origin of the dance. After Turner's death, he told the SBS in 2023 that someone in the NSW education department likely choreographed the dance in the 1970s as a way to encourage children to dabble in the creative arts, exercise more and improve their motor skills.

"In NSW there seemed to be some kind of committee trying to work out what kinds of dances primary school kids in particular should do as part of physical education," Stratton said.

"What seems to have happened is that somebody devised the Nutbush along the lines of the Madison (another line dance)... Some people suggest that what actually happened was that somebody couldn't remember how the Madison went properly so you end up with the Nutbush."


The song 'Nutbush City Limits' was picked because it was a popular song at the time and had a repetitive beat which meant even the least coordinated among us could follow the dance. 

As children in NSW schools began doing the Nutbush, teachers from other states introduced it into their school programs and it clearly spread like wildfire. 

And one thing is for sure, if you ever need to quickly locate an Australian anywhere, you know what to do.

@sumiegray He ate ngl #dance #concert #nutbush #aussie #fyp ♬ original sound - sumiegray

That's 'Straya for you!

Season two of Heartbreak High is streaming on Netflix. 

Feature image: Comedy Central/Netflix.