Senior hip-hop crew provides lessons about attitude

Senior man in a hip-hop outfit carrying ghetto blaster over his shoulder

Image: buso23/

There’s something quite delightful about the New Zealand hip-hop crew Hip Op-eration. Their average age is 80, but their thinking is so much younger.

They came to international fame when they entered the annual hip-hop competition in Las Vegas in 2013. You can find their LA performance here.

Formed by Billie Jordan, the group consists of seniors aged from 68 to 96. When Jordan began pulling the crew together she insisted that they be at least 65.

The fascinating part of her story is that she had no experience at hip-hop or dance, but had sympathy for elderly people who had self-isolated. She wanted to offer them more social interaction, meaning and fun—and a challenge in their lives.

In speaking recently at an aged-care conference—with the ‘world’s oldest hip-hop crew’ in tow—she talked about their Las Vegas experience in this way:

‘People have a set idea of how you are supposed to die: you have to be propped up in bed, with a crochet blanket, eyes closed and holding someone’s hand. God forbid it should be on an aeroplane going to Las Vegas, or on the stage of a hip-hop dance competition.

‘We made a pact that if someone dies during the performance we just step over them. Everyone brought Tupperware containers for their ashes.’

Jordan says that creating the hip-hop crew has given new meaning and purpose in her own life. She had suffered from abuse as a child, and then—after just shifting to Christchurch—the 2011 earthquake left her homeless.

So what can this post-retiree Hip Op-eration crew teach us about retirement? It’s about attitude—positive attitude. That’s the kind of attitude that leads to positive thinking, optimism and the motivation to achieve. It’s a can-do attitude.

Actually, that’s the best attitude at any stage of life—including the preparing for retirement stage.

You’ll find an inspirational TED talk by Billie Jordan about her experience with Hip Op-eration here.

Bruce Manners: the author of Retirement Ready?, Refusing to Retire, and founder of


Category: Attitude, Lifestyle

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