Dancer, choreographer and television personality
Kelly East: Sister
Leto Fernandez: Spouse
Showbusiness is my life - without it I don't feel alive
The former artistic director of Pineapple Dance Studios is a reality TV star
Louie was born on 6th April 1969 and raised on a North London council estate in Ponder’s End. From the age of five, every Saturday morning, he went with his sisters to the local dance centre in Essex, donned his blue Lycra leotard and, to quote, “high kicked his ass off”.
His mother and father knew that Louie was exceptionally talented and encouraged him every two-step of the way. They re-mortgaged their newly bought council house to fund their twelve-year-old son’s attendance at the Italia Conti Performing Art School in London.
Acutely aware of the sacrifices his parents were making, Louie made sure he was the first one sweating in the dance studio in the morning and the last one there at night. It paid off, aged just thirteen he had a part in the West End show ‘Bugsy Malone’ followed by a role in the Wayne-Sleep-fronted BBC series, ‘The Hot Shoe Show’. Having left school without any other qualifications Louie had already begun to turn his passion into a career, aged sixteen he was a professional dancer in ‘Miss Saigon’.
He moved to Italy to work on a TV series which, his website says, involved him dancing alongside stars not normally known for their stage moves, such as Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder.
Louie returned to London in the ‘90’s and worked as a backing dancer on tours for everybody from Bjork, Boyzone to 2 Unlimited. He became friends with some of the top acts of the day, Take That, The Spice Girls and spent 1998 touring the world with the girls.
When he returned to London, he found work in ‘Cats’ and the Pet Shop Boys debut musical ‘Closer to Heaven’, but the new Millennium didn’t start well for Louie. On New Year’s Eve 2000, he suffered an attack of Bell’s palsy which paralysed one side of his face, he remains partially affected by the condition. In addition, the West End routine of eight shows every seven days had begun to burn him out. A dancer’s career is not a long one and Louie realised it was time to hang up the dancing shoes. He joined up with the Covent Garden based Pineapple Dance Studios.
Founded by Debbie Moore in a derelict church hall, Louie helped her put it on the dance map. He became its artistic director which, he explains, isn’t as glamorous or executive as the title may suggest… “It means I do a bit of this and I bit of that and I rush round everywhere, I’m like a rash darling. I spread myself everywhere. Every job is mine. I have had to clean up poo from downstairs. Someone missed the toilet, twice, and done it on the doorstep.”
Despite this rather underwhelming description of his duties, Kylie, Mariah Carey and Robbie Williams were just some of the stars that had him on speed-dial when they needed dancers and choreographers.
With a lot of crossover between the worlds of dance, music videos and television, Louie was first discovered as on-screen talent for, fittingly, a dancing talent show called ‘Bump N Grind’. His judging skills were often overshadowed by his own outrageous outbursts, both verbal and physical, which were TV gold.
In 2008, he was cracking American TV as a reality show judge with series such as NBC’s prime time show, ‘Celebrity Circus’. In 2009, a TV exec came looking around for ideas for docusoaps. He visited Pineapple and met Louie…
In March 2010, Sky 1 broadcast ‘Pineapple Dance Studios’. The winning formula mixed featured newsreader Michael Buerk’s voiceover with the zany, non-stop energy of Louie and his cohorts. Louie’s constant innuendo and relentless dancing energy, juxtaposed with the Buerk’s dulcet tones, made ‘Pineapple Dance Studios’ essential TV.
That year, Louis gave the alternative Queen’s speech on Sky 1 and they re-commissioned a second series of ‘Pineapple Dance Studios’, but this time it was called, ‘Louie Spence’s Showbusiness’.
Premiering on 5 January 2011 it followed his (successful) attempts to put on a huge West End review show. Helped by a supporting cast of certifiably misguided hopefuls, it went down a treat.
Controversy occurred when, promoting himself and his new series on ITV’s ‘This Morning’, Louie waxed the bottoms of five men. The content (way before the watershed) and unintentional camera angles, lead to hundreds of complaints by viewers and, allegedly, even crisis talks within ITV.
Meanwhile, Louie was given a column in Heat magazine and this gave him the idea for writing his autobiography. ‘Still Got It, Never Lost It!’ was published in September 2011. It may not have added to the great English literary canon but it received many rave reviews from readers and fans.
After being forgiven by ITV for the ‘This Morning’ disaster, Louie replaced Jason Gardiner on ITV1’s skating show ‘Dancing on Ice’. Most recently he’s been a contestant on Channel 5’s ‘Big Brother’ in which he was evicted a mere two days before the final.