Working life stories: Carol Bushell

“I’ve got every right to be a DJ, no matter what my age or my sex,” says Carol, who started DJ’ing in her 50s and now co-runs a club event.

Carol Bushell Dj'ing


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Carol Bushell, 59, started DJ’ing in her 50s alongside her career in early-years education. She now co-runs Supernature, a club event in Manchester where everyone from students to pensioners go for it on the dancefloor. She tells us her working life story.

“I DJ’d at my first club-night in Manchester in 2014, when I was 52, and now a small group of us host Supernature five times a year. The crowd at our club is incredibly diverse – our youngest punters are in their 20s, the eldest are in their 70s, and everyone goes for it on the dancefloor. It’s not a genteel event, it’s full-on! People take their tops off, there‘s lots of sweating on the dancefloor and pure joy.

Sometimes at my club, or when I’ve been booked to DJ somewhere, people won’t know in advance what I look like. And sometimes they’re surprised when they find out it’s me. I’ve had people who think I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve even been mistaken for the cleaner!

But I’ve got every right to be a DJ, no matter what my age or my sex. And actually punters are often overjoyed that I don’t fit the stereotype of what a DJ should look like. Women of all ages come up to me when I’m DJ’ing, and they’re so happy to see a woman on the decks.

Missing out on university – and making up for it

Carol Bushell portrait

I grew up on a council estate in the middle of London and my parents worked hard. I got into grammar school, which was a great opportunity – but boys, punk, and wanting to have fun got in the way. I’d been set to go to university and become a teacher, but I failed one of my A-levels so I couldn’t go.

I ended up doing a nursery qualification and becoming a nursery manager. I loved it, even though it wasn’t my initial plan, especially when I started training students. Alongside work, I did several courses to help me in my training role, including getting a university degree. I also had my daughter during those years.

I found it difficult to juggle everything but I was determined. I’d been shocked when I didn’t get into university – it was the first time in my life that I’d failed. So I was driven, I guess, to redress that and to still become a teacher.

Moving from nurseries to nightclubs

Throughout all of this, music was a huge part of my life. I loved being a punk as a teenager. In my early twenties, I met my husband and we had our own little indie band as a hobby. In the late 1980s, there was the birth of house music. We started going to clubs and raves, and we kept going out a fair bit after my daughter came along. My mum would babysit and we would find daytime raves too.

When we first moved to Manchester in 2002, we didn’t know many people and we didn’t go out as much. But then my neighbour started a get-together, where each person had to bring some records and present them to the group. After a while, we moved the event into a proper venue. Things just grew and grew, until we decided to put on our own club event.

Supernature runs 3pm-8pm on Sundays and we play house and disco. We also host a monthly radio show. I love daytime partying because anyone can come. But it’s not a tea-party – people come to have a proper party and they definitely get one.

I’m planning to retire from my role in education this year. I’ve done paid DJ gigs but I’m not really looking to make big money out of it – that’s a nice thing about doing this later in life. Supernature  events are free, we just want everyone to be able to come.

My advice for others is not to worry about what other people might think. If you want to try something new in your later years, then do it for you, not for anyone else. Often, the only thing stopping us is ourselves.”


Photo credits: Geoff Eze, Sara Carpentieri.

You can find out more about Supernature here.

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