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Stella Cabeca Story Then and Now part 21

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My classes were getting bigger and by now I had gone from my very first gig teaching at Club South Beach to Pure Country to Hillbilly Rock to Normans to Gone Country and full circle to teaching at Davie Junction as full time instructor. The floor was jumping every night and my classes in community centers getting stronger.
During this time I was publishing dances in various publications and eventually got my own monthly page in the Country Weekly, which was a free newspaper all about South Florida country scene. I would post our favorite dance of the month.

I was now teaching dance full time though not making much money was able to make it with George working 2 jobs as he always had, allowing me to live the dream.
I was getting more and more calls to do private events such as birthdays, bar mitzvah, weddings, and corporate functions. Clubs were getting better and bigger line dance crowds, KISS radio coverage including live coverage from Davie Junction and some other events I was asked to attend.

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The Stella Cabeca Story Then and Now #19

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part 19

Many songs and new local artist appeared at our club we debuted and hosted the song Fever with Jeff More. I taught the dance that night and did it to his live performance. That dance and song are still done in the clubs today.

Also guest singer of Buff Little Girls, Pete Andrews came to sing his hit song and we debut line dance to his song, which is also still being done in the clubs today. Pure Country was the beginning of many dances and music that we played there that became long lasting hits. Another example was a song called Swamp Thing, anyone who line dances today will know of this song and do a dance to it. I taught the dance by Max Perry and played a song Old Weakness a Country Cha song but did not have the song Swamp Thing which I found out was Techno music by a band called Grid from Germany. So I asked my brother Charles in England who is a music fanatic to get it for me which he did. When it arrived in my mail box I was so excited and could not wait to do the dance that night at the club to this song. But when I got to the club they refused to play it because they said it was not Country and back in those days the Country bars would only play Country music.

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The Stella Cabeca Story Then and Now part 18

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part 18

When Dave and Bonnie returned they asked how it went and I told them I think I did OK.  I loved every minute of it I was happy to see them and continued dancing and learning from them. Shortly after this my husband and I started to learn couples dances from Connie Carol, who was the couples dance instructor for many years at Davie Junction primarily. She was a fantastic dancer and teacher and kind of intimidating. George decided to start taking 2 step lessons though he had never danced a step in his life. I am sure it was because I started dancing with some of the local cowboy’s at Davie.

He was scared of Connie at first but she took to George and helped him a lot during the lessons.  They seemed to connect and before long to everyone’s surprise became one of the best students. He could remember and lead all the sequences and was smooth on the floor. Before long he became one of the most popular cowboy’s with the ladies who lined up to dance with him all the time. He would wear his Stetson boots and shiny belt buckle and just charm the ladies on the dance floor. I was so proud of him and loved dancing with him, which sometimes meant I had to wait for my turn too.

I loved 2 step and then did some East Coast Swing, Cha Cha and Waltz in couples classes with Connie. I became a substitute teacher for Connie teaching couples classes when she could not be there and George would work with me showing the guy’s there lead, we formed a friendship with Connie that we have had ever since almost 20 years now. I Love You Connie

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The Stella Cabeca Story Then and Now part 17

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part 17

My life was changed when I started Line dancing. I was addicted to dancing every night and learning all the new dances. As I became a better dancer, I found other dancers started watching me and following me on the floor especially when the danced turned from the front wall to the back where they could no longer follow the teacher. As the dance progressed I found myself giving directions and calling the steps to help dancers who could not see the instructor.

One day the dance floor was packed and we turned to back wall and my teacher Dave said watch Stella on the back wall. I felt a volt of electricity go through me in that moment it was an adrenaline rush. My name was said over the microphone and he felt that I was good enough to lead the floor. This was a feeling I had never felt before. I was on cloud nine and calling the counts me, the British klutz, who couldn’t do a vine was now a leader on the dance floor at Davie Junction— Hip Hip Hooray.

One day, Dave and Bonnie asked me if I could teach at Davie Junction for them while they were on vacation I was Gob Smacked (as we say in England) and scared and thrilled. I could not believe they thought I was good enough to teach especially at The Davie Junction, which back then was the hottest Country Club in town filled with dancers live bands; live Kiss radio broadcasts and associated with one of the biggest rodeo’s in the country which was 5 minutes away.

So this was a huge deal, my first teaching experience in such a well-known place could I do it. I had never taught anything in my life in a public forum; never talked on a microphone, how do I call the steps, count the steps, talk and dance at the same time?????, what if I make a fool of myself ?????What if they don’t learn the dances???????????????? What if they can’t understand my British accent?????????? OMGooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooood

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The Stella Cabeca Story Then and Now Part 16

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Part 16

The following week I drove myself nervously to club Elvis for the line dance lesson. I was terrible, did not understand when they said to do a vine or jazz box and kick ball change. Even though I tried my best to follow along I felt like an idiot, but I loved every crazy minute of it. I went again the following week and several times when one night a lovely lady came over to me and suggested I go to a place called Davie Junction on Sunday afternoon for family day beginner classes. Her name was Marilyn she was an older lady dressed in pretty skirt and cowboy boots and hat, very well dressed a real southern lady.

I went to Davie Junction the following Sunday afternoon was a real Country Bar, nice wooden floor with bar and stools to sit all around the dance floor, big stage at the front of dance floor. Also had a train track between bottom floor and upper level with a train that travelled round the entire room. There was another bar in the back away from the dance area that seemed to be full of locals and real American Country folk. I loved it even though I felt like a fish out of water I stepped on the dance floor for the lesson trying to hide in the back.  There was a big crowd on the floor so was easy to hide.

I hoped no one would see all the mistakes I made. I learned 2 dances one was called Redneck girl and Cowboy Boogie. This was the greatest feeling to be able to go out on the floor and dance even when the live bands came on I waited all night for the 2 songs I knew so I could dance.

I was hooked on Country Line dancing from that moment on. I went to Davie junction 5 times a week with my husband on weekends and alone during the week. I learned every dance I could in classes and then went home and practiced for hours till I had them memorized. My husband did not ever dance at this time but came with me every weekend sitting bored to tears all night while I danced. George did not drink ever so you can imagine but he was happy for me.

Till Next installment… Keep Dancing.. Stella

The Stella Cabeca Story Then and Now part 15

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I worked in a bank on Normandy Isle on Miami Beach, Dade Savings a small branch.  We were cross trained as teller’s/new accounts CD’s and other aspects of banking.  Just 7 staff total including one armed guard which did not help the day we were robbed at gunpoint. I hated the job but loved the interaction with customers and my co-workers.  We were like a little family. The benefits were good and George thought I could make a career of it when they offered to train me for manager. But soon realized this was not for me and so I started my own business buying close-out merchandise and selling it at flea markets.

I sold shoes, books and then Toys. I did well with the toy’s demonstrating and putting on quite a show at Gulfstream racetrack and Thunderbird swap meet. I drove a big van; up at 5 am and off to swap meets in the dark. I also burned to a crisp in the hot sun despite awnings; umbrellas and sun screen. My Lilly white skin could not take it, so I moved to indoor market in one of highest crime areas. Business was good but after my car was stolen, my purse then followed up with my house broken in too and a fire bomb was thrown into bathroom as armed robbers stormed in to jewelry booth next to me. I decided that this was probably not the place to be.

Oh what is a woman to do, here I am in the land of opportunity and I still don’t know what I want to do now that I was all grown up. Then a lady, in my neighborhood, asked if I could help  her out with shopping and driving her to doctors and before I knew it I had a nice group of elderly people and their families who did not live here all year round to help them with every day needs. So I had a little work and George was, as always working 2 jobs and taking care of me and all the bills.

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The Stella Cabeca Story Then and Now part 14

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part 14

We got married on Valentine’s Day February 14, 1981 on Miami Beach at a small bar in a hotel owned by a friend.  It was all decorated with hearts and flowers. The wedding ceremony was right there on the dance floor in the bar. A friend and co-worker of George’s who was a minister performed the ceremony and George’s son George junior was our best man.

We left the next day for Philadelphia where we spent 2 weeks meeting George’s family in Doylestown, Rhode Island and New Bedford. We went to Valley Forge and New York. I was made very welcome even though they were shocked to suddenly meet me the NEW WIFE.

When they did not even know George was divorced. His family wonderful people mostly Portuguese people who seemed to be so glad to see as they said George so happy for the first time in many years. I got to meet his brothers and their family. I was made to feel like I was welcome to his family even though I know they perhaps had their doubts about the marriage being able to succeed.

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The Stella Cabeca Story Then and Now part 13

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I had the best date ever with George, I talked a lot, he listened a lot, we ate I drank a lot.  George did not drink never drank in his life but he sure got me many doubles. I felt well taken care of, like I had a made a great friend, but not in a romantic way. We went out almost every day after that, he would drive me everywhere back and forth to work and spend many nights sitting with me in the bars on Miami Beach at night after we closed the restaurant.

Even though George did not drink or smoke and I did both, he seemed happy just to be with me. I did not feel this was a serious relationship at that point. I started to date other guy’s and tried to push George away. I did not see a future with him at that time, even though he was in love with me. Just the age difference, the end of his 28 year marriage, the 6 children and grandchildren oh and did I tell you his oldest daughter and I are the same age.

Nevertheless, I had grown to care for him but was dating other guy’s and trying to make a life for myself. George had helped me move out of my friend’s house and get my own apartment before I had stopped seeing him. He had driven me to and from work and just really helped me so much as I had nothing and no one and was so lost.

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The Stella Cabeca Story Then and Now Part 12

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part 12

I cannot go in to too many details of the next couple of months on the grounds that it may incriminate me and others who went out on a limb to help me stay here and work and make money to survive. But I can tell you I did get a job that was created especially for me as a hostess at the International House of Pancakes aka (I.H.O.P.) on Miami Beach.

There had never been a hostess before, but at that time Freddie Laker was flying the Brit’s in by the thousands for such a low price that every day working folks who had never traveled outside of Great Britain before were taking advantage of this deal. Coming here on package deal which brought them to the hotels such as the Carillon and included a bus trip 2 days Disney world. Most of them stayed in the hotel and walked across the street to our restaurant every night for dinner, went to Disney on the bus got severe sun burn and heat sickness and returned home, with the blisters and story to tell of their trip to the United States Of America.

The line outside our I.H.O.P. every night went down the street, I used to go up and down the line with glasses of cold water for everyone and sing and dance and have fun with my fellow countrymen as they waited in line or in the Queue, as we say. They were happy and appreciated me as someone from back home, able to make them feel welcome. Some of them actually lived one street away from my sisters and knew them .Anyway I made very little money and no tips, but I got free food and was eventually made night manager closing the place at night and partying in the bars across the street till morning.

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The Stella Cabeca Story Then and Now part 11


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part 11

I went in a hotel bar on Indian Creek Drive asking for work anything to make some money. When I met the pool and maintenance guy and told him my situation he offered to help me.  I could stay in a cabana and put out the sun beds at the pool.  I was also to give out and launder the towels.  He would feed me and hide me and keep me there till I got money from home.

I had to get out of that apartment with those guys. I went by my gut instincts about this guy.  So I let him come and get me and my stuff out of there that day. I move in to the cabana. He made a bed up with clean sheets, brought me a big meal and showed me the ropes of what I would be doing in the morning. He said good night and left.

I walked outside and sat at the water’s edge, the moon was huge and so bright against the black sky.  The breeze rustled through the palm trees, I thought this was the most beautiful place on earth.  I think it was in that moment that I fell in love with this place and could not imagine going back to England. That feeling did change when in the night I had my first experience with the dreaded palmetto bugs. I saw something crawling across the floor and I was in shock. I had never seen a bug so huge, so horrifying and then as I threw my shoe at it I could not believe my eyes as it started to FLY I mean it was Flying are you kidding me that is like the worst thing you can imagine in your worst nightmare .I know they say everything is bigger and better in America but this is ridiculous, get me on the first plane out of here I did not think I could live in Florida with these creatures.

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