Saturday, December 22, 2007

Dreaming of tango, of shoes...

I have been sick lately. Have a lot of work to do and not able to do it due to heavy dosage of medication (for congestion, cough, fever etc...)... What's worst is that despite all the medication I still cannot sleep at night, yep, its that annoying dry cough... So I do a little work and a little surfing on the net. I read the news, the blogs, the news, facebook, blogs, email, news, and ofcourse, online shoe stores.:) Which reminded me of a topic that I have been meaning to write about for a while.. Tango shoes...
I am a tall woman. Hence I ahve big feet. I did a lot of sports when I was younger so my feet are well used and abused, hence I know the importance of taking good care of them. I love my high heels so that is one department I am not going to consider sacrificing, for comfort, so what are my choices out there. Comme il fauts, neotangos etc... I have purchased tango shoes of many different brands including all teh flashy nice ones. but I have a few grievances that I would like to share.
Ok, this is not only specific to tango shoes, but un general for all shoes. YOu are a big footed woman. You see a wonderful pair of stilettos, shiny, and girly and pretty just waiting for you to try, but ofcourse they are in size 7. You ask the above question, and you get one of two answers:
a) Oh sorry we only carry upto size 40!" (which is not size 10- but sometimes it is, depending on the maker, go figure)
b) "Let me check!"
If you are lucky enough to get answer b, then most commonly she checks and tells you that they do not have any more size 10s (they do not order them too many because not many women are, ahem, big footed, like me! You know, the whole demand-supply thing. Which makes me wonder, then howcome whenever I go to a shoestore 90% of the time they always had just ran out of my size??? The demand is here, its me!!! Hello!!! Where is the supply!! So much for the invisible hand of the market...
Ok so let us assume that you are lucky that day (10% of the time) and she says, "We have one pair left in that size" Then she brings the shoes and .....
What the hell is this??? The shoe looks like some sort of a flotation device, its big, clunky, the heel is no longer stiletto, It resembles nothing of the size 7 that you saw and fell in love with... You try it on, and as soon as you put it on, you feel like you are crossdressing... Its interesting how some 10 womens shoes can make a woman who is fairly secure with herself feel like a man...My God...
The same thing is true for the fancy tango shoe brands that are available for those of us who are big footed.. Most of the size 10s are shall we say "rather mannish". I wonder, all these models who are over 6 foot, they are not mannish and not wearing mannish shoes, why should I huh? why???

Ok, another problem I had is with a pair of Neotango shoes I got. They were a perfect fit, in fact, quite tight, when I first got them. After two-three milongas, they lost their , shall we say. backbone! The leather relaxed so much that now my feet were completely loose inside the shoe. I swear, I couple of times while I was dancing, my pinky toes came out of the shoe.. Now how do you really expect me to listen to my leader, surrender and follow, and connect and all that when my pinkies are falling out of the shoe??? Well, there goes my "you know how much" costing shoes...

Another problem I had with tango shoes is the lack of consistency of shoes. First lets talk within the same brand. You buy one pair of shoes, you love them, they are your fave pair, they get old, they want to retire, despite you insisting that you love them, one day they fall apart. So you, asa loyal customerr, but another pair, from the same company. Just as pretty, but these girls are different. They are not flexible, they are a capricious pair. They give you blisters, they refuse to formfit. A worse situation is when you order the same brand and same model, and same size, and yet the shoes that arrive are not even close in terms of comfort and quality to your previous pair...

Ok, now that I vented a little, offering some solutions.. I found out that tango shoes are like tango people. In general those people that are always involved in tango, have the time, the resources, and the will to dance tango generally do well. But this does not guarantee that if you are always involved in tango,and have the time, and resources, that you will dance well. Some don't. Just like the shoes. Even if they are "tango" shoes, some perform, despite their pretty looks and fancy names, poorly.
And in general, those people that start tango "late," those that do not have all the resources or time to invest in tons of trips, and classes, do not do so well. Just like shoes that were not made for tango. But there are some people, and some shoes, that werre made for tango, even if they do not know it yet. They have a certain "je ne sais quoi" that smells, tastes tango. And in certain environments, with the right people they come to life and become tango people, and tango shoes. In other words, they are waiting to be discovered.:)

The point of all this is that, I found a solution to my tango shoe problem, and that is I know what I am looking for in a pair of tango shoes, I am looking for comfort, flexibility, stability, straps, quality, and ahem.. good looks. Non of those things are exclusive to tango shoes. And no I am not looking for a tag that says a certain brand. And if the shoe fits this criteria then it is a tango shoe for my purposes damn it! Hence, I have many shoes that are "non-tango" by virtue of their brands, but tango in every other way to me.. I get them on the internet, or when I am window shopping, its almost like they find me, rather than me finding them. I have many shoes that are gorgeous, great quality, and I get them on sales, for half the price of what people pay to buy a pair of "put your favorite tango brand here" and I am proud of that. In fact, I have received many complements in milongas about my shoes, and everyone says "That is such a beautiful pair, where did you get them." I smile... proud of my big feet:)

PS: By the way, this is not to say that I do not like tango shoes, its just that due to my specific needs (ahem-- my big feet") I need to be more creative in my quest for tango shoes, and so far I have done well. I will gladly admit that when I find a pair of comme il fauts or neotangos or what ever other brand that fits my criteria above I cling onto it so tight that you can never remove them from my kung-fu grip!!!:)

PPS: On one last note, I just realized that my criteria for shoes above is much like my criteria for men, just think of "straps" as arms,serving the same purpose, to hold me tight:)

PPPS: The shoes in the photo are available online. for more info click here.


  1. You are kidding me!!! I was describing my fantasy shoes to my friend this summer, I wanted plaid just like in that pic!
    The other thing is that I am also size 10. I've had the same shopping experience, they always just ran out of my size. Very annoying. I love that you get creative about buying shoes for dancing, not restricting yourself to tango shoes.

  2. I JUST had this conversation with TB. I also wrote about it in a recent post.

    Early on in my tangoness, I really bought into the "Tango Shoe" marketing. Until I realized that it was just that: marketing. The CIFs in my size (9.5) required two people to carry them out. Canoe-sized shoes are just not "cute"...

    So I took to the streets - so to speak - to find shoes that would flatter my feet AND work for Tango (I no longer buy any shoe that cannot ALSO be used to dance in). I now own maybe 2-3 pairs of "tango" shoes, with most of my other "tango shoes" bought at department stores. Since they were not bought at a "tango" store, they are "unique", comfortable, and a lot cheaper than most "tango" brands.

    BTW, the (gorgeous) shoes you show are cheaper

  3. Oh, Danzarin, I'm sorry to hear about you feeling sick. You made me smile with the comparison between shoes and people, I think you are right on!

    On the consistency within the same Tango brand--I think you are right. I tend to buy mostly CIFs, but I realize that their fit and comfort in my case varies greatly. There are certain models that fit me better than others, that are more comfortable; and also, there are some that appear to be higher quality, because of the materials used. While most of the times I have been very happy with my purchases, there is one pair where the leather gloss is coming off just too soon--my impression is that the designers were experimenting a bit too much with a new material for the sandal, and frankly it is not very good. On the other hand, there have been times in which I saw beautiful street shoes fit for tango which I have definitely used at milongas which great success--they were both comfy and special...

  4. Hey Danzarin, Happy Holidays. I hope I get to meet a few more of my blog friends in the new year. Hope you are enjoying the season.

    P.S> I am really sick of the whole CIF craze. I just don't think those are the best shoes. At least not for me. They feel sort of plastic-y and not so quality. Is this just me?

  5. Love this post!
    By the way, it's not just size that matters, it's width. Just because a woman has smaller feet, doesn't make them easy to fit.

    Case in point:
    I wear a size 7 or 7 1/2 BUT only if it comes in an extra wide width. I'm a petite woman but my feet are broad and flat, not the least bit dainty looking. I cannot remotely squeeze my fat feet into normal width size 7's.

    On top of that, my toes sort of fan out, rather than tapering in. A salesman at a dance shoe store said he had the same kind of feet and called them "flipper feet". Nothing fits right. Most shoes, even if the correct size, hurt my toes.

    Since most attractive shoes don't come in wide, I often end up buying a larger size just for the width, and then pad them out as needed.
    Obviously this is not the correct fit, but what can I do? I can't afford custom made shoes.

    And when you are 5'2" and wearing size 8 1/2 shoes, that looks huge, whereas I think a size 10 would look normal on a tall woman since it's in proportion.

  6. Hi Danzarin,

    Great post! Like Johanna said, we were just talking about this very same topic.

    I have a pair of Nine West shoes that I wear to work all the time, but they look almost identical to a pair of CIFs that I dance in. I have danced in these shoes and they feel great (and they come in red and cobalt blue--I have the red.)The heel it not too high either AND now they're on sale:

    You got me all excited to look at other shoes too and within 2 seconds I found these--don't tell me these don't have tango written all over them:

    Hope you feel better soon. I have the same thing and it is kicking my butt. Everytime I start thinking I am over it, it crops up again. Get well soon.