He adorned the wall of my school dormitory for two years, resplendent in a skin-tight black leotard. The chiselled cheekbones, the gently waving hair; for a while he was the one we all wanted to marry when we grew up - pre Brad Pitt, post Morten Harket.
I was 14 when Dirty Dancing came out - probably just about the perfect age for it. It wasn't the most earth-shattering film ever - pretty lightweight plot, cheesy lines - but it was one of those films that you ended up watching again and again. What spotty teenage girl didn't identify with Jennifer Grey, short and not obviously pretty, the 'sensible' sister, falling for the hunky working-class dance instructor, Johnny, at the holiday camp with her parents? Surely it was the fulfilment of the ultimate teenage fantasy that, in the end, it was HER that he noticed, her that he fell in love with, her that he turned into a fantastic, sexy dancer.
Thinking about it now, if a 30-something staff member at a resort seduced a female teenage guest, he'd probably get taken to court at the very least. In some ways, the film panders to every teenage girl who's had an unsuitable crush on a teacher or similar - and I'm sure some would say that's not helpful. But to us, the generation of teenage girls who fell for Patrick Swayze, it was romance of the highest level- losing your virginity not to some juvenile boy, but to a gorgeous older man.
(I always wondered about what would have happened after the film ended. Would Baby and Johnny have stayed together - or was it just a holiday romance? Had they really had the 'time of their life' - was it all downhill from there? What does anyone else think?)
So, RIP Patrick. Thanks for making our teenage years more exciting. I've never seen High School Musical, but I'm sure whoever's in it is not a patch on you in a leotard.