When Paul Kendrew first stepped into Greendales nightclub near Heysham, he had two left feet and had never danced before in his life.
Soon afterwards, Paul was three-time UK disco dance champion and even appeared on Top of the Pops.
As a young man living in Morecambe in the 1980s, Kendrew was a whirlwind of energy whose moves put John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever to shame, winning freestyle dance titles all over the UK.
And he says he owes all of his success to one man – the late Steve Blane.
Our story two weeks ago about the sudden death of DJ and hotelier Steve, a giant of Morecambe’s entertainment scene, prompted Paul to get in touch.
“Steve was responsible for me being able to dance at all,” he said.
“He encouraged me incessantly and he gave me the opportunity to earn a living doing what I enjoyed. For that I will always be grateful.”
Steve was such a huge influence on Paul’s life, that he used to follow the charismatic DJ from club to club, dancing to his records at the Shell Bar (later 42nd Street) at Heysham Head, Crystal T’s in Morecambe and Brooks in Lancaster.
“I was one of several dancers who followed Steve, we were like his groupies,” he laughed.
It was at Harveys nightclub near The Battery where Steve and Paul really made their names.
They developed ‘The Bit in the Middle’, a regular disco dancing segment which thrilled thousands of clubbers.
Paul said he “tingles with energy” when he recalls those days.
“The Bit in the Middle was initially performed by another dancer called John Brown and myself, although there were others like Lenore Blackmore and Clive Donaldson, who became ‘Wiggy’ on The Hitman and Her.
“Steve would play a song called ‘Countdown’ by Kofi and the Lovetones, and this would be the signal for everybody to get off the dance floor and we would take over.
“He would then play a set of very fast records, like ‘Maniac’ by Michael Sembello, that only the fittest could keep pace with. I had great legs back then and nobody could keep up with me.
“Harveys used to attract dancers from other areas and nightclubs, who all wanted to try The Bit in the Middle. I don’t recall John or I ever being beaten, but many tried!”
Paul went on to dance on Top of the Pops, and did five series of the cult 1980s TV show The Hitman and Her with Pete Waterman and Michaela Strachan.
He carried on dancing until the age of 43, stopping when his daughter was born.
Today Paul, 53, works as an aircraft broker in the Midlands, selling everything from small planes to Boeing 747s, and hasn’t set foot on a dance floor in years.
But he still remembers Steve with fondness, attending his funeral at Lancaster and Morecambe Crematorium last Friday along with hundreds of others. It was standing room only at the Crem, a glowing testimony to the impact Steve had on so many people just like Paul.
“Harveys and Steve Blane were such a huge part of my younger life as were other local DJs,” he said.
“But none commanded the respect that Steve did as a person and all round entertainer.”