Stepping into my sneakers, I pulled my hair into a ponytail.
‘I’m ready!’ I called out to my older sisters, then 27 and 26, who were waiting.
‘Have fun, sweetheart,’ my mum said.
Aged 17, I was heading to my first rave.
Mum was happy for me to go with my sisters, so long as we stayed away from alcohol.
Sneaking in past security, we made our way to the dance floor where crowds were gathering in front of the DJ.
Dancing as the music vibrated through my body, and with strobe lights glowing over my skin, I’d never felt happier.
Returning every few weeks for a boogie on the dance floor, I was addicted.
By 18, I’d started dating a boy who didn’t share my love for raving.
But I wasn’t going to let that ruin my fun. ‘I’m going out with the girls,’ I’d grin.
Within two years we’d tied the knot and had welcomed our first child, Melissa, in November 1986, when I was 21.
After giving birth to our beautiful girl, everything changed.
So busy being a mum, I didn’t have time to rave anymore.
Six years on, in November 1991, our sweet twins, Jessica and Richard, arrived.
Born with velocardiofacial syndrome, a genetic condition, Jessica needed all my love and attention, and I left my job working in a factory.
Between juggling a busy household and three children, my hands were always full.
But when my hubby left for work each morning, I placed my favourite rave tape in the cassette player and cleaned the house.
And when the kids were old enough to walk, they often joined me for an impromptu dance party in the lounge.
But as the years went by and my children grew up and needed me less, I felt like a big part of me was missing.
Splitting from my husband in 2006, at 41, I realised I missed my rave days.
I’m too old, I thought.
Nearly a decade on, the twins, then aged 24, bought tickets to a dance music festival in Sydney.
‘Come on, Mum. Come with us!’ Jess pleaded.
‘I won’t fit in,’ I fretted.
‘Mum just do it!’ Jess reassured me.
Desperate to go, I jumped online and booked myself a ticket. Who am I kidding? Everyone will make fun of me, I worried, as the big day neared.
Waking up early on festival day, I was nervous.
Pouring myself a nice strong cuppa, I dipped my Scotch Finger biscuit in and took a bite to try to calm my nerves.
Pulling on my sunhat, I loaded my shopping trolley with snacks, water and jackets for the kids, before setting out on my first rave adventure in what felt like a million years.
Walking into the festival, excitement coursed through my body. I felt like a young girl again.
Giving me a kiss, Jess and Rich ran into the crowd with their friends.
‘Have fun, Mum,’ they called back.
Standing alone on the dance floor, I felt so out of place. I’ve made a mistake, I panicked.
Closing my eyes, the music pounding through the speakers, a familiar feeling rushed through me.
Before I knew it, I was dancing like nobody was watching! This is it! This is what I’ve been missing, I realised.
And soon I wasn’t alone on the dance floor, but surrounded by happy young people who wanted to boogie with me!
‘Hi rave granny!’ some of the grinning revellers exclaimed, wrapping me up in a big hug.
Even though I was only 50 and wasn’t a grandma yet, I wasn’t offended.
Toting a trolley like a nanna and wearing a sensible wide-brim hat, I totally looked the part!
I danced non-stop for 10 hours, and Jess and Rich couldn’t believe my stamina.
‘This is my mum!’ Rich cheered to anyone who’d listen on the shuttle bus home.
And just like that, the Rave Granny was born!
Falling in love with music again, I went to more festivals than my kids – even one in Europe.
Sharing my story with friends my age though, I realised the rave scene didn’t have the best reputation.
‘It’s a drug fest,’ some of my peers commented.
But I was totally tea-total – sometimes just enjoying a nice cold cola to give me some pep.
And while some young people were ‘on it’, I always had my trolley ready with a snack and some water, if need be.
Determined to share the joy festivals bring me with the world, I started the TikTok @ravegranny in January 2022.
You’re never too old to get your groove on, I shared with my followers.
Your videos have convinced my mum to come rave! one lovely girl commented.
And recently at a festival, I met wonderful Denise, 58, who’d been reluctant to rave until her daughter showed her one of my videos on TikTok.
Incredibly, my clips have had 10.7 million views and 3.7 million likes combined!
Now 58, I’ve become a grandma to Melissa’s son, Joshua, one, and adopted thousands more sons and daughters who I party alongside.
And I don’t plan to hang up my dancing shoes anytime soon, though my kids, now 36 and 31, aren’t that keen on joining me anymore.
Retired, I’ve even traded in my family home for a campervan, and I’m set to travel around Oz attending festivals.You’re never too old to do something you love!