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Meet the oldest professional female DJ

During the day she works in the kitchen of her Chinese restaurant serving hungry customers, but at night she stands in a DJ booth rocking the floor to a crowd of enthusiastic club-goers.

Leading a sort of a double life, Sumiko Iwamura (a.k.a. DJ Sumirock) now holds the Guinness World Records title for the Oldest professional club DJ at 83 years and 118 days as of 25 May.

She holds a regular gig at Shinjuku's Decabar Z, but she also travels to clubhouses across the globe, including Paris and New Zealand, to put her own musical spin on a turntable.

Sumirock's interest in DJing sparked when her friend Adrien suggested she should give it a go. Thinking it would be a fun endeavour, she started attending a DJ school at the age of 77.

Six years on and she performs once or twice a month. Even if she has DJ work at night, she often won't take a day off from her restaurant; she will cook through the evening before she heads to the nightclub at around 1am.

When asked where her energy comes from, she answered with a smile.

"I think I might be born with it! I don't take any health supplements or do any exercises, but when I do something totally different, I feel energized."

Sumirock's particular favourite is techno, and she mixes in rock, jazz and even some anime soundtracks. However, the tracks she chooses can vary considerably depending on her mood.

"Because I get bored quite easily, I don't get stuck with the same tracks. So every time I prepare for a gig I choose tracks that get me, then and there."

Sumiko working in her restaurant's kitchen. Photo: David Zavaglia

Between her two jobs, she faces two different types of customers. But to Sumirock, restaurant-goers and club-goers are actually alike.

"You get feedback from your customers quickly in both cases. If you're playing tracks and they don't like it, they'll leave the floor and start drinking at the bar. If the tracks are danceable, then they'll stay on and dance their heart out. Restaurant customers are the same - if it tastes good, then they look happy, and they'll tell me that they like it. For me, it's easy to work out how people are feeling in both cases."

Sumirock was born on 27 January 1935. During her youth, she dreamed of doing something abroad, but when her father opened a restaurant shortly after she graduated high school, she was recruited to help run it.

On top of that, having been a jazz drummer and knowing the challenges of being a musician, Sumirock's father didn't allow her to take up musical instruments. Not even his grandchildren took up music until he passed away.

Decades later, Sumirock is now living the dream and traveling around the world with her music. She is modest with her achievement and the Guinness World Records title, saying that it's just the age that got her there.

But when asked what message she would give to those who are struggling to reach their dreams, she answered with a confident tone: "Chances are there every day. Don't give up, and always try something."

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