Paddy Jones is tiny: barely touching 5ft without her obligatory high heels. She is also impeccably turned-out and conspicuously in possession of the most fantastic figure. She wears her heels and make-up like the true pro she is, and when she speaks, her soft west Midlands tones are delivered with stage-school precision.
Paddy loves talking – she’s a great storyteller. But she loves dancing more. As with all the best stories in life, it took the accident of a tragedy in her life – the death of her beloved husband – to bounce her into a new career at the age of 69. Today, her life is utterly transformed. She lives to dance, makes routine live appearances in theatres around the world, does radio and TV shows, gets stopped in the street by admiring fans. Paddy Jones, aged 78 and a bit, is an international celebrity and a very proud holder of the Guinness Book of World Records title of Oldest Acrobatic Salsa Dancer.
I interviewed Paddy in the autumn of 2012 at her son’s home in Stourbridge, a leafy green west Midlands town. It was a beautiful day, the trees showing brilliant reds and oranges in the warm rays of the low, late sun. I’d been trying to get to meet her for 18 months. It was worth the wait.
In the audio clips below, you can listen to edited extracts from our conversation. Just click, sit back and enjoy! If you’d rather read than listen, click here to read my interview with Paddy. I will also be adding some video clips shortly of some of Paddy’s tales from her life.
Paddy Jones in interview (audio version)
Clip 1: How Jane came across Paddy
Jane explains how she found out about Paddy.
Clip 2: The early years
Paddy describes a childhood filled with singing and dancing, and how she stepped away from the stage to get married
Clip 3: Marriage and the retirement plan
Paddy talks about life with David, their plan to go to Spain, and how events trampled all over their dreams
Alone in Spain, Paddy rekindles her old passion in a new form, with a new partner and an extraordinary new energy
Clip 5: Nico, stardom and a world record
Paddy talks about her dance partner, how they became celebrities on Spanish TV and the moment when she was handed a Guinness Book of Records medal
Coming soon: viedo of Paddy recalling events from her dancing life
The small print: attributions
The following music was used in these clips
Clip 1: Vamos a tocar sonido by Frank Guerrero y su grupo Aché
Clip 2: Fui Yo by Frank Guerrero y su grupo Aché
Clip 3: La mujer de Antonio by SONGO 21
Clip 3: Solea para Bailar by Pilar Calvo y Luis Maravilla http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Pilar_Calvo_y_Luis_Maravilla/~/Sole_para_Bailar
Clips 4&5: Mas rapido licensed through Music Media Tracks