82-year-old DJ thrills crowds on Tokyo’s club scene

Octogenarian DJ Sumirock lays down beats with the exuberance of young club-goers who party with her into the night

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 April, 2017, 3:09pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 April, 2017, 3:09pm

By day, Sumiko Iwamuro runs a Chinese restaurant, where she has worked for six decades making fried dumplings, and by night, she spins records at Tokyo clubs under the moniker DJ Sumirock.

But the juggling of long days and frenzied nights isn’t even Iwamuo’s most inspiring feat.

She’s also 82 years old.

Japan is known for its ageing demographic, with people aged 65 and above accounting for 26.6 per cent of the population in 2015.

A prime example of an active senior, Iwamuro plays to club denizens mostly 60 years younger, at the DecaBarZ nightclub in the heart of Tokyo’s Shinjuku district.

Taking up the turntables in her 70s, Iwamuro spent a year learning tricks of the trade at a school for disc jockeys.

Once she made her way to the dance floor, she stole the hearts of club-goers.

“She’s got this energy that goes beyond age, and that can equal any young person’s here,” says 25-year-old clubber Fuminari Fujii.

Iwamuro describes her sound as fundamentally techno music, with jazz, French chanson and classical music mixed in. Ever curious and never one to give up her dreams, she hopes one day to debut on the New York club scene.

“When I spin the tables, I just want to match the beat, choose the right music,” she says when asked what keeps her practising her tunes and returning to spin records. “But the best thing is for my audience to enjoy themselves.”

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