After eleven years living, dancing, teaching tango, and writing in Buenos Aires, I came home to L.A. in 2014, where I'm reconstructing my life.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

My Sexy Shoes

Because the topic of shoes is never out of date, I'm republishing this post from 2007. Some things never change.

How tall am I ? Honey with hair, heels and attitude, I'm through this dammed roof! --Ru Paul

My sexy shoes are black silk stilettos with an ankle strap. They are also my tango shoes which, depending on my partner and my point of view, can be the same thing. I first realized a few years ago why high heels are so sexy: they make our legs look longer, sure, but the real reason is that they make us more vulnerable. We can’t run away. (Or it looks like we can’t.)

But amazingly we can dance in them, which takes practice and skill. We must remember just how high the heels are so that we can go up on our toes and down again without whacking the heel. We have to learn how to keep those heels 1/4” off the floor, and to put them down with control so that the wood doesn’t clunk and we can spin like dervishes during the tropical tanda.

Dancing shoes have a mystique all their own. There’s no way we can dance ballet, tango, jazz or salsa without the right shoes. Well we can, but we don’t want to. If our feet are looking good, well then, we’re going to be dancing great. We’re more than half-way home.

In Cuba, the salsa homeland, where they don’t have the right shoes for anything, they dance in whatever or even in no shoes, but it’s no problem. If fact, our fancy specialized shoes seem kind of silly down there, where the best dancers are torching the floor in sneakers and old sandals.

But in the hot salsa clubs and smoldering tango salons both to the north and south of the Equator, looking the part is part of it. And it all begins with the barest, strappiest, sexiest shoes we can spin in, and if they match our outfits, so much the better.

We pick glittery and jeweled shoes (or white) if we have great footwork and are proud of it. The rest of us go for basic black if we don’t want glow-in-the-dark feet, but also, what is more sexy than black? And it goes with everything.

Soul to sole: what about Reflexology, when pressure is applied to certain areas of the bottom of the feet to promote relaxation and healing in other parts of the body?
Is that why we feel so great after an amazing night of dancing wearing the right shoes?

Your dancing shoes can have soles of suede, smooth leather, felt, rubber—depending on your feet and the floor you are dancing on. If you aren’t happy with the soles you’ve got, you can take the shoes to a cobbler and he can put on a different kind. As for your dancing soul, just let it out!

Unlike soles, which are of light-to-medium interest, heel height is a huge and passionate issue. Whenever a group of women huddle together at a milonga, if they’re not gossiping about a man, it’s heels of another sort that have their attention. (Actually the higher heel helps us to keep our weight forward in tango, so there’s more than aesthetics involved.) Sometimes short women like to wear the highest of the high (over 4 inches) and even platforms, and tall women opt for lower altitude.

I am tall (5’ 7”) and it has actually happened to me that a man has told me I’m a great dancer and he’d love to ask me to dance, but I am too tall! (How rude is that? I’m not too tall, he is too short!)

One night at The Mayan in Los Angeles years ago, a man invited me to dance, and when I stood up in my stilettos, he looked panic stricken as he gazed upward to the top of my head. Then he told me his recurring nightmare was to dance with a woman taller than he. But when we got into the groove, he loved it! Dance after dance, he tried new spins, lifts, jumps and dives. I finally had to beat him off with a clave!! He was overjoyed to realize he could dance well and have fun with a tall partner! He wasn’t exactly my mercy dance of the evening; I had fun, but I looked on the experience as educational for him--he will never hesitate to ask a tall woman to dance again.

A lot of women of my distance from the ground choose low-heeled shoes to minimize any height difference and to perhaps get more dances. I’m sorry, but I think you should wear the shoes that are right for you, that you dance fabulous in, that make your feet even more gorgeous and sexy. If a man can’t handle how tall or short you are wearing them, that’s his problem.

But for hot moments after the dance, we just need to know how to gracefully get undressed with those shoes on. Sometimes we go to bed wearing our shoes, and then we have to not forget that we are wearing stilettos that might get buried in some guy’s torso, or worse.

We have to know all these things about our sexy shoes. And even if we look vulnerable, we must learn not to be. Sometimes we can even take those shoes off.

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