Archive for the ‘Shoes’ Category

Tango and minimalism: how many pairs of shoes are enough?

October 22, 2014

I know a milonguera who has 100+ pairs of shoes for tango.  Another milonguera admitted her collection is over 250 pairs of shoes, although not all of them are for dancing.  A room in her apartment has nothing but shoes.  I know a minimalist milonguera who owns only two pairs of tango shoes.

A few months ago, I decided to go through my shoe collection and sort out the ones I didn’t wear or that were uncomfortable.  I sold five pairs at a consignment shop and donated the rest.   That process cut my shoe collection in half and reduced the number of pairs for tango from 16 to 8 pairs.  The remaining pairs are my old favorites that I’ve worn for years and hopefully for many more.


How many pairs are enough?  That’s for you to decide.  How many pairs do you need?

Tango and minimalism: the essentials

October 21, 2014

We women often carry more than we really need in our purses for those times when something might come in handy.  I recall a friend who carried a large, heavy purse around all the time that looked like a small suitcase on her shoulder.  She had trouble walking due to the weight and probably had a sore shoulder at the end of the day.  Minimalists get rid of the excess in their lives and focus on the essentials.

It’s best to take only what you need to the milongas in Buenos Aires and leave the rest in your room where it’s safe.  These are the items in my purse.  I carry my dance shoes in a draw-string bag.

Pesos — take enough to pay the entrada, for drinks, food, coat check and tips for the waiter and ladies’ room attendant.  These days you’ll need at least 100 pesos; another hundred if you travel by taxi to and from a milonga.

SUBE card — this is what you use to pay for rides on buses and the Subte.  If you don’t have the card, you have to pay more for a bus ride with coins.

Photo identification — a copy of your passport photo page, not your passport.

Tissues — for wiping your brow between tandas and/or a folding fan

Eyeglasses — if you need to see who is inviting you to dance from the other side of the room

Personal cards — to share your email or social network address with new friends.

Hand gel — to use between tandas

Breath mints — for obvious reasons

Earplugs — to cut city noise or when the music is too loud.

Pen — for when you want to make note of a tango you never heard before, etc.

Comb, lipstick, perfume — for touchups in the ladies’ room.

Apartment keys — the most important item you carry so you can rest well after dancing.

That’s my minimalist checklist for the milongas.  I recommend keeping your purse on top of the table where it’s in full view.  There are some milongas in Buenos Aires where it’s best to check your purse — Confiteria Ideal and El Beso; it’s not as convenient when you need it, but it’s safer that way.

Toeless shoes need toeless hose

October 9, 2014
Silvana Dedos Less (Miel) - made in Argentina

Silvana brand hosiery – made in Argentina

When I started dancing tango in 1991, my dance shoes had closed toes.  I never knew that toeless hosiery existed until I saw Muma wearing it with open-toed shoes.  I recently bought my first pair for spring.  They’re called dedos less here;  known as peep toe, hose without toes, open toe, and toeless hosiery.  It’s perfect to wear with your open-toed dance shoes if you prefer  covered legs over a bare ones as I do.

I know that my legs need a second skin, and I add color to my toes during the spring and summer.  This hosiery takes care of showing painted toenails that normal ones cover up.


Designed by Lucila Iotti (Palermo)

Her first pair of tango shoes

October 5, 2014

Tango shoes from Juan Perez Feria Americana in BA

Nisha wrote me weeks before her arrival in Buenos Aires.  She was coming for only a few days and wanted to learn tango.  I let her know she could find me at Lo de Celia on Wednesday.

I noticed a young woman dancing the salsa tanda with Roberto Segarra, but it didn’t occur to me she was Nisha from Mumbai.  A while later a milonguera who knows me as Pichi came to ask me about someone named Janis.  And that’s when Nisha and I finally met.  Nisha works for the Consulate of Spain in Mumbai, and she has no problem with the language.

Nisha wanted to take a class, but she didn’t have tango shoes.  I told her I’d take her the next day to buy a pair.  Nisha heard about Comme il faut shoes.  I suggested we meet first at a Feria Americana to see if they had shoes in her size.  I arrived early and decided to check the shoe rack for a pair in her size, and I found one pair.  When Nisha arrived, she tried them on and said they were perfect.  The price — 250 pesos.  We were only three blocks from Comme il faut, so we went for a visit.  Nisha tried several pairs and took her first steps in high heels.  The used pair was more comfortable than the Comme il faut shoes at 1,500 pesos a pair.  Mission accomplished.

We took the bus back to my apartment and bought some empanadas for lunch along the way.  We talked about the codes and customs of the milongas before the class.  Since Nisha has never worn high heels, I began with exercises to strengthen her feet for dancing.  She had only four tango classes in Mumbai without the essential equipment for tango.  Walking in high heels is different.  Her posture changed, and she started walking to the music.  Nisha knows she has to strengthen her feet and practice walking in high heels on her own before she can dance with a partner.

Two days later, we met at Milonga de los Consagrados to watch the dancing, listen to Dany’s great tandas, and talk more about the codes and customs.  It was her last day in Buenos Aires.

Your shoes send a message

January 7, 2014

EroGear shoe

Will wearable technology of the future find its place at milongas?

This black high-heeled shoe from Erogear has an LED light built into the wide ankle strap that can broadcast low-resolution images or even a Twitter feed.  This may be just the answer for desperate milongueras who would rather send a live tweet across the room than wait for him to nod.

The hazards of high heels

November 8, 2013

my tango shoes

Doctors are talking about foot and ankle problems caused by wearing high heels.   We all have some pain after hours dancing at a milonga.  Moderation is a key, but then how many of us will turn down an invitation when are feet are screaming with pain?  We’re not about to give up wearing high heels for tango.  And that’s that!

Find the ladies’ room first

July 12, 2013

I don’t know why, but there are always women who get undressed at the table in a milonga and think no one notices.  The men notice, and they’d rather not see what we’re doing.  The milonga once was like going to the theater; today it’s more like a locker room. Women notice as well. There is no graceful way of changing into dance shoes, so it’s best to find the ladies’ room first.  That’s the place to check your hair and makeup, spray perfume, change clothes and shoes, and even use the toilet.  Then wash your hands before entering the salon to dance.

La Gordita arrived at the milonga and got the chair next to mine.  She came with a huge purse and proceeded to get herself ready for dancing at the edge of the floor of the milonga.  There was no table in front of us, so everything she did was in full view of everybody.  She apparently thought nothing about it, but I did as I watched the production.  She unzipped her high leather boots exposing her bare (smelly) feet.  She thought nothing about positioning a foot on her knee to put on her shoe.  I restrained myself from asking if she could use the ladies’ room.  I noticed her perfectly manicured fingernails and hands adorned with rings on every finger.  Was she going to wash her hands after touching her feet?  After the shoes, she fixed her hair and makeup.  It was like no one was watching, but she was in full view. Who could not help see this production as they danced by?  She got up and started walking towards the entrance.  I had to see if she was going to the ladies’ room.  No.  It was social time.  She conveniently positioned herself at the end of the room.  When the tanda began, she was dancing with a man nearby.  All night long she was fidgety, always talking to a friend when she wasn’t dancing.  I’ve never experienced anything like it in all my years in the milongas.  When the organizer asked if I enjoyed myself, I said, yes and no.  Then I explained.  He said he couldn’t do anything about this kind of situation.  It’s simple.  As women enter, suggest they change their shoes in the ladies’ room before entering the milonga.  They will get the hint.  They don’t get to dance any sooner by changing at the table.

At another milonga I attended, the male host directed me to the ladies’ room to change my shoes.  I had planned to do so, and thought it was a good idea that he mention this to the women as they arrived.  He handled the situation well so women didn’t change shoes in the salon.  It’s so uncouth.  Then I saw the female host of the same milonga change her shoes at a table (before and after) when she went to dance.

A woman who attends Lo de Celia regularly has probably never set foot in the ladies’ room.  She makes a grand entrance, crosses the floor during a tanda to get to her front row table and then proceeds to remove her coat, etc. and change her shoes, as if no one notices.  The same thing happens at the end of the night.  She stands practically on the dance floor while she puts on her coat.  Then chats with women at the table and crosses the floor to leave without any consideration for those dancing.  She does the same when she leaves to smoke a cigarette outside.

It’s winter, and the cold weather has arrived in Buenos Aires.  Bare legs are common in the milongas during the summer months, but I’m surprised to see them during winter. Those who prefer the bare-legged look remove their hosiery in the ladies’ room (thank heaven!) and put them on before going home.  I shiver just watching these bare legs on the dance floor.

The lack of respect for others is not only on the dance floor of the milongas.  And the situation is getting worse.


June 7, 2012

I noticed this sign yesterday for the very first time.  It’s posted in two corners of the salón.  I knew that Celia does not let anyone wear athletic shoes in her milongas since she announced it.  That’s fine with me and everyone who dresses appropriately for the milonga.  A few weeks ago a young woman was given special permission to dance in red high top canvas sneakers.  I hope she wears heels the next time she attends; they certainly will help her dancing.

Scenes from the milonga

April 25, 2011

The tango magazines have advertisements for the newest trend in dance shoes, so I’m familiar with them.  This week was the first time I saw two women at a traditional milonga wearing colorful dance sneakers with low heels.  Sneakers are comfortable, but not elegant.  Most women enjoy dressing up for the milonga.  These women looked like they were going to the gymnasium for a workout. 

Changing shoes at the table in a milonga is becoming more prevalent with the foreign invasion.  Argentines know that the futbol team gets dressed in the locker room, not on the field.  Somehow this doesn’t concern those who go to the milongas.  Two young taxi dancers and their female clients arrived at the afternoon milonga where most dancers are over 70.  All four of them changed into dance shoes at the table.  The restrooms have chairs for this purpose.  One taxi dancer wore a white t-shirt, blue jeans, and dance sneakers–hardly proper dress for the milonga. 

An Argentine who arrives late for the evening milonga usually sits at my table.  She removes her coat, grooms her hair, sprays perfume and changes her shoes at the table.  Last week I asked her why she doesn’t go to the ladies’ room and added that the men notice and comment.  She wasn’t offended, but simply agreed.   I danced the tanda while she did her normal routine at the table.  The following week she went to the ladies’ room for the first time to change her shoes. 

These scenes are becoming more common in the milongas.  Organizers don’t say anything because they don’t want to lose business.  But they will lose business when those who respect the codes and customs no longer attend.

Milonga 101: Tango shoe shuffle

January 13, 2011

Milongueros wear normal street shoes for dancing at the milongas.  They never bring along another pair of shoes.  It’s the same for the milongueras who wear the high-heeled shoes they will dance in.  It’s the only way they make a proper entrance at a milonga.

The tango shoe shuffle describes newer dancers and foreigners (men and women) who carry their dance shoes to the milongas and shuffle into them at the table.   Many dancers start changing their shoes in public before and after dance classes.   They continue their routine in the milongas.

I remember being seated at the table of a woman who was changing her shoes while an observant milonguero pinched his nose; he had my attention, and I laughed because he made his point.  Nobody wants to smell foot odor after hours of dancing.   If only the woman had noticed the milonguero, she might have thought twice about it.

If you think no one notices you changing your shoes at the table, you are mistaken.  That’s why going to the ladies’ room before being escorted to your table is an option.  Your potential dance partners don’t need to see you wearing your old walking shoes, etc. which convey a first impression and label you as a “tourist who doesn’t know any better.”  After changing your shoes,  simply wait at the entrance for the host to escort you to a table.