Teenage dancer crowned Northern Soul champion

Stephen Cootes earned a gold model of Blackpool Tower for his efforts
Stephen Cootes earned a gold model of Blackpool Tower for his efforts
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THE Mod-inspired dance scene had all but died out decades before he was born.

Yet a fleet-footed teenager from Penicuik has shown that sometimes youth outshines experience after being crowned World Northern Soul Dance Champion in a dance-off at Blackpool Tower.

Spinning, jiving and gyrating his way through a 100-strong field, Stephen Cootes, 19, worked the crowd into a frenzy to win the coveted accolade ahead of rivals more than 20 years his senior.

The trainee painter and decorator became the first Scot to win the competition since it was revived six years ago having previously fallen into decline.

Having escaped a judges’ cull in the early rounds, Stephen went head-to-head with a dancer from Derby as they vied for the title and was pronounced the clear winner following a vote using an audience clap-o-meter.

Stephen said he was surprised to win the event last week and owed his enthusiasm for the genre to his parents. He said: “I was quite surprised that I got through to the final two and was really chuffed to win.

“I got into Northern Soul though my dad, who used to go to it when he was younger. I would watch him dancing in the house and then I went to a scooter rally one time – that’s when I started to try it out.”

For his eye-catching – and winning – routine Stephen scooped a gold-plated trophy of the Blackpool Tower and £250 in prizes.

He said he had been honing his dance moves since he was 14, learning the ropes from his dad before striking out with new techniques of his own.

He had also gleaned inspiration from Northern Soul events in Gilmerton and Bonnyrigg.

He said: “It’s hard to say what I like about the music, but I guess it’s because it’s fun to listen to and it has soul.”

Stephen said he could be invited to be a judge at next year’s competition.

Kev Roberts, managing director of Gold Soul, which hosted the event, said the Lothians dancer was a great talent.

“He was just superb,” said Mr Roberts. “Eighteen is very young to be winning at such an old-fashioned music genre like Northern Soul.

“It’s quite staggering that he won and he must have been influenced by his parents because it’s not usual to have someone so young winning.

“He is now the official world champion, the seventh winner of the competition since it was reintroduced and the first from Scotland to win it.

“Usually the field is very strong with people from Manchester, Yorkshire and the East Midlands, but not so much from Scotland.

“He was undoubtedly the winner and there was no sympathy offered just because he was young.

“He came alive on the dance floor.”