Photography by John Swannell
Debbie Moore OBE left school with no qualifications, winning a modelling competition aged 15, having been nominated unknowingly by friends.
Debbie went on to become a top international model and muse to royal photographer John Swannell, one of the biggest names in British photography.
An underactive thyroid and subsequent weight gain overnight put paid to Debbie’s modelling career in her early 20s, a homeopathic doctor recommending dance as the best all-round form of exercise. The studios where Debbie enjoyed attending Arlene Phillips CBEs rock jazz class (the start of a lifelong friendship with Arlene) closed down overnight, giving Debbie a lightbulb moment to open her own dance studio.
The old Covent Garden fruit and flower market had just relocated to Nine Elms and local banks were encouraged to give loans to businesses in a bid to regenerate the area, leading Debbie to find a derelict pineapple warehouse in the heart of Covent Garden (complete with dead pigeons and rotting pineapples)… and the rest, as they say, is history.
In June 1979, Pineapple opened its doors, new members clamouring at the door for classes, not minding at all that there was still a cement mixer in reception. Hence, the derelict pineapple warehouse was famously reborn as ‘Pineapple Dance Studios’ – as Debbie always says, probably just as well it wasn’t a banana warehouse.