How did you celebrate last New Year’s Eve? Did you rock the dance floor?
You can be sure Ruth Flowers (age 71) did. She’s one of Europe’s most popular DJs.
That’s right. One of Europe’ s most popular DJs, who prefers “electro rock to house music.” Here’s her tour schedule for November 2010:
05 @ I LOVE ELECTRO Los Angeles CA
10 @ SOUND FACTORY Lyon (France)
12 @ LE CHAT NOIR Dijon (France)
14 @ HIGHTSTREET (Belgium)
26 @ CLUB GALLERY Zagreb (Croatia)
29 @ NYC (USA)
She Don’t Need No Rocking Chair
How did this English granny from Bristol choose rocking the dance floor over rocking on her porch?
It all started about five years ago, when her grandson invited her to his birthday party at a London nightclub. Not surprisingly, the bouncer wouldn’t let Ruth past the red velvet rope. He said, “You don’t want to go in there, madam.” She told him, “Yes I jolly well do, it’s my grandson’s birthday!”
Once in, the club’s electric atmosphere transformed how she saw life.
“There was a real osmosis between the music and the lights, it energized me!…made me feel so much younger!”
Ruth told her grandson she’d like to try it on a smaller basis for the kids in Bristol. She’d just returned to England after her husband passed away and had a lot of time on her hands. She needed an outlet. Her grandson thought she was nuts.
Fortunately, an acquaintance introduced her to 28-year-old French producer Aurelian Simon, who took the idea and ran with it.
Together they created her new persona, Mamy Rock (Mamy is French for grandma) who wears “glamorous sports gear” — big bling, spiky silver hair and oversized sunglasses.
Was it a marketing decision? Mamy Rock admits that stylists influenced her at first. But now, “I have my own ideas, and I like to wear what I want.”
Mixing the Old and the New
Simon also found DJs to teach Mamy Rock the nuts and bolts of the craft. She struggled with the turntables and mixing equipment at first. “I’m not a great technician by any means. I’m from a different age group. It was very hard at the beginning.”
But she kept at it, going back and forth to France to gain mixing experience. She developed a sound all her own.
I like to mix the old and the new, so I might put electro alongside an old favourite like the Rolling Stones.
Her favorite group is Queen — “Freddie Mercury…what a voice.”
In 2009, she gigged an exclusive Cannes Film Festival party in front of Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz. After that, the bookings rolled in. Mamy Rock became a regular on the European club circuit.
She still lives in Bristol, but spends a lot of time in “rather nice hotels.” For some reason, she’s not that popular at home (“They don’t seem to want me in the UK, do they?”), but she finally performed at the Glastonbury Festival last year.
Those USA dates on her November itinerary were also firsts. She made her US debut at an electro festival in front of 3,000 young clubbers and recorded a new single called 69 in Los Angeles. (Mamy Rock was born in 1940, but she’ll always be 69!)
A few weeks later, she was in New York to DJ at The Carter Burden Center For the Aging’s 31st Annual Dinner Dance and Awards Ceremony. (You can see her rocking out with some of her peers here.)
Before her uber-cool Later Blooming, Mamy Rock spent ten years as a retiree in Portugal, ran a fabric shop and taught drama. The latter career was short-lived, since she didn’t want to teach “little toads with no interest in what I was doing.”
Obviously, she never lost her flair for the dramatic.
…Indeed, I’d rather sign a contract with a record company than sign up to a nursing home!
What Later Bloomers Can Learn From Ruth Flowers
- Inspiration for later blooming can be found in the most unlikely places.
- When looking for a mentor, don’t discount someone 40 years younger!
[Update: I was very sad to learn that Ruth passed away on May 27, 2014 at age 74]