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The Stella Cabeca Story Then and Now part 4

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My Aunts lived in a very posh area of St. Annes On the Sea which is just outside of the famous sea-side resort Blackpool. The house was a big 3 story detached home on Orchard Road and was impressive when you walked in to the entrance and saw the winding iron staircase. The house was cold I mean freezing cold and though filled with beautiful antiques and had a baby grand piano in the front room, it was anything but home. No central heat, no fire, no comfortable couch, no music, no life.
They were demanding and strict old-fashioned spinsters with no understanding of young people or their needs. I was devoted to looking after them, especially my Auntie Margaret, who had horrible ulcerated legs and was unable to do for herself. I liked her though and she made me laugh sometimes. My aunt Minnie was a cold hard woman, who showed no emotion for life or other people. She was a real eccentric lady, who lived surrounded by luxury but had no comforts.
There was never any food and what there was many cans of salmon and fruit. She kept these locked up in a cabinet and she kept the key in her pocket. You had to beg her for the key to get anything. She would drink a cup of tea with whiskey in it every morning at 6.30 am and would send me miles in the cold and rain to the store for her teacher’s whiskey because it was a few pennies cheaper.
Of course they never had a car they walked or took a taxi not that they ever really went anywhere much, Just once a week they would go to the cafe for high tea or afternoon tea. They had plenty of money but would not spend it for the normal living expenses.
I worked in a pharmacy in the town center, walking distance from the house. My life was lonely; I missed my brothers and sisters. I had nothing but my music. There was the Blackpool Tower and The Mecca Ballroom; I was there every chance I got. I would take two buses and was still sneaking in sometimes without paying, but oh the dancing, wow. They had disco nights that were heaven on earth for me. The Tower Ballroom once you had a ticket to enter the Tower you could go in the ballroom all day for free.
This was the home of the original Wurlitzer organ, it would rise up from beneath the stage as the organist played, and it was magnificent. The ballroom was beautifully carved and decorated with a ceiling like the Sistine Chapel and still to this day that ballroom hosts dancers from all over the world, especially now international line dancers, teachers, choreographers and some of the biggest and best known line dance events in the world.
I left my aunties house and went to live and work at the Imperial Hotel in downtown Blackpool. This was the started to another chapter of my life, which is not one I am proud of, but one that would lead me one more step forward.


The Stella Cabeca Story Then and Now part 3

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part 3

I was very lucky to find a nice job in a Chemist/optical shop, which would be a pharmacy/optical, all in one little tiny store. My boss, Mr. Buckley was a giant, I mean literally, a giant 7 feet tall and 500 lbs. he was huge. Please forgive me, but he was ugly, I mean scary when I went in the dark room in the back of the store for the interview, I was terrified.  When he spoke this tiny little sound came out, he had this little squeaky voice. I thought, I was in a movie or the twilight zone, but he turned out to be a gentle giant and a genius.

Mr. Buckley was an accomplished pianist and I had many hours of listening to him play. He would play everything from classical to popular and we would sing our heads off during our lunch breaks.

He and his huge sister were master cooks.  Sometimes I would sit in the optical room for lunch, with no lunch and they would invite me to the back of the shop to their home to eat with them. The food shepherd’s pie, steak and kidney with flaky pastry that melted in your mouth and the pies were so good. I started to get really fat at that time, no wonder.

Finding this job was perfect for me as my first job because they treated me with kindness and I learned a lot in a short time. They made me feel smart and gave me hope for the future.

The Stella Cabeca Story Then and Now

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part 2

Throughout my childhood years, I found solace and escape through music.  I had a little AM transistor radio with a wire with an earpiece that I pressed deep in to my ear so my head was filled with music. The sounds of the world blocked out even during the nights when my parents would be having another one of their screaming matches.

I could sometimes escape to oblivion and be lost in the sounds of The Four Tops, The Supremes, Englebert Humperdinck. Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Monkeys, Tom Jones, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley and soooo many others. I could sing every word of every song and Sunday night was my favorite when they played the top forty. Even though it was late in the night before school next day I never missed a song.

The first record I bought, I saved up for ages and went to the store for the single, ”I’m a Believer’ by the Monkey’s, and I think the B side was Strawberry Fields. We had a record player that you manually cranked with a handle and I played that record over and over till my arm was aching from winding it. Wish I had that player today would be worth a fortune now.

I also played piano at home and sometimes relatives would come for a visit and play modern music. Some boogie woogie on the piano, it was lively and fun and we would all sing. My Mum only played classical music, so it was great to sing and see the piano bouncing up and down with the more vibrant lively stuff. My auntie Bobby was fantastic she was like a female Liberace, and all my brothers were excellent singers.

I would also dance every chance I got, some ballet that was paid for from family business for a while till mum was thrown out for being in the pub every day and running it in to the ground. I loved Ballet, I was a natural talented dancer they said and as a small petite child did very well and tap dancing as well. In school we had some dance classes mainly contra style barn dances and circles. Kind of what they call today Scottish Country dancing. I just remember I loved every second of it. Then later, I did a little line dancing at the youth club but I was only there for a brief time due to circumstances at home.

As I entered my teen years, I gained weight and developed large boobies, I guess I was a BIG girl. I still sang and danced. I was light on my feet and plugged in to all music from classical piano,  pop,  country, Rock N roll, and Irish. I was a member of a Scottish Highland band where I learned drums and yes, bagpipes. I did the step dancing with the crossed swords on the ground and yes, I guess I did the Highland Fling.

What I can tell you is music and danced brought me joy and happiness, when there was none anywhere else. I found myself drawn to the ballrooms and would spend hours just watching people dance. I would sneak in and hide in a dark place in the corner so I would not be seen. The circle dances were fun and I found myself learning the steps and the patterns even though I could not join in.

Later on I was able to go to the Tower Ballroom in Blackpool in the afternoons and do these dances. But I will tell you more about that later as that is where the World Line Dance events are now held. More to come.  Stella

The Stella Cabeca Story Then and Now

This is a series of installments that Stella wrote starting May 2013, since we moved to a new Web Host and new Blog.  Larry B felt it appropriate to re-post the series on our new Blog site.  Perhaps We will get Stella to continue her story and maybe some other future articles from “The Line Dance Guru”

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Part 1

The story of the Line Dance Guru as you know her today but what she has never told about her life before she came to the U.S.A. and after she first arrived as a British tourist on holiday for a week.

I was born on a freezing cold night in Ashton-U-Lynne Lancashire in the North of England February 2nd 1953.I was the 3rd child born to parents Stella Ball and Charles Ball. Mum was a London Royal College of music teacher and Dad, a former Grenadier guard and personal Queens’s regiment to Queen Elizabeth when she was just a teenager. I was the first girl and soon to be followed by a third brother, so there were 4 of us for many years till my sisters came a long 8 years later 18 months between them, now there were 6 children, 3 boys, 3 girls.

To say our child hood was dysfunctional would be an understatement even by today’s standards, where it seems more and more children are raised in homes of abuse or just plain neglect. The difference was back then it was all kept quiet and swept under the rug. The neighbors ignored the screaming domestic abuse between my father and mother unless occasionally it became so disruptive they would make an anonymous call to police. Not many homes had phones in those day’s but we were fortunate the next door neighbor had a phone, and when the police arrived they would calm the situation and just leave, often with me clinging to the officers leg begging to be taken away with them. The law was such at that time that unless one or the other spouse was willing to file charges they could not arrest anyone.

My Mum had a great sense of humor, was utterly charming and men found her irresistible. My father super intelligent, who spoke many languages and possessed a vast knowledge through books but was a full-blown alcoholic and was addicted to codeine which you could buy over the counter. He was prone to violence when in on codeine and alcohol to my mother and older brother Charles in particular.

What is Line Dance?

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A line dance is a choreographed dance with a repeated sequence of steps in which a group of people dance in one or more lines or rows without regard for the gender of the individuals, all facing the same direction or facing each other, and executing the steps at the same time. Line dancing is practiced and learned in country-western dance bars, social clubs, dance clubs and ballrooms. It is sometimes combined on dance programs with other forms of country-western dance, such as two-step, western promenade dances, and as well as western-style variants of the waltz, polka and swing. Line dances have accompanied many popular music styles since the early 1970s including pop, swing, rock and roll, disco, Latin (salsa suelta), rhythm and blues and jazz.

The Madison was a popular line dance in the late 1950s. At least five-line dances that are strongly associated with country-western music were written in the 1970s, two of which are dated to 1972: “Walkin’ Wazi” and “Cowboy Boogie”, five years before the disco craze created by the release of Saturday Night Fever in 1977, the same (approximate) year the “Tush Push” was created. The Electric Slide was a Disco-based line dance created and popularized in the mid-1970s.

Over a dozen line dances were created during the 1980s for country songs. The 1980 film Urban Cowboy reflected the blurring of lines between country music and pop, and spurred renewed interest in country culture, and western fashion, music, and dance. “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” was choreographed by Bill Bader in October 1990 for the original Asleep at the Wheel recording of the song of the same name. The Brooks and Dunn version of the song has resulted in there being at least 16 line dances with “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” in the title, including one by Tom Maddox and Skippy Blair.

The 1992 hit “Achy Breaky Heart” by Billy Ray Cyrus helped catapult western line dancing into the mainstream. In 1994 choreographer Max Perry had a worldwide dance hit with “Swamp Thang” for the song “Swamp Thing” by The Grid. This was a techno song that fused banjo sounds in the melody line and helped to start a trend of dancing to forms of music other than country.

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