Saturday, November 13, 2010

A woman and her Shoes: Bad News. Really.

Men are dolts.  I keep hearing lately how stupid we are via tango blog chatter.  The newest thing I hear -- in jest -- is that men see only if shoes are dark or light.  Shall I tell ladies the truth?  That we are not dolts?  That we DO see shoes in more than two shades?  That we can wear nice clothes.  That we do take a shower?  That we like dancing with women who are first kind and second good dancers, first kind and then beautiful?  Now the secret is out.

Not that all women think men are dolts.  The ones who beam and love life -- the women and men around them; the women who don't rely on anyone for their emotional wellness, they are dancing and having fun.  They are not bitter about men.  Those women, I believe, are who are bitter are those who have been misguided by thinking that they must follow, men must lead; misguided that men talk and women must listen; misguided that women should be seen (be beautiful) but not be heard (participate actively in the dance); misguided that women must sit and wait and the man must choose (OMG is that naive, or what?)  They are bitter beings, and have few good things to say about men.

All of this is caused by the misguided world-view of way too many tango teachers who have chosen the machismo of Argentina to explain the phenomenon of the beauty of tango.  Oh, I am sorry, machismo is not an issue in Argentina or Latin America?  Not everything from any culture is all good, and even machismo is not all bad, but the question here is does the macho-world view of Argentina describe the interaction between a man and a woman who are dancing tango.  Short answer:  "No!"

But this post is not about my usual rant about Me-Tarzan-You-Jane tango philosophy.  It is about men being belittled -- even in a joking way.  And it is about the truth about men not being dolts.
Humor reveals interesting hidden feelings, like the video clip:  "Men don't even notice your shoes.  They see that she has on either light or dark shoes and that is all."  Funny -- but women will add, "...but oh so true."  

If women who buy too many shoes only knew how important their shoes are, then they would only buy more shoes.  That is why any man who is a gentleman will not say anything about how important her shoes are.  I don't advocate buying a bunch of shoes, but let me say, shoes make a big difference.

Okay, guys -- especially with shoe-craving wives, please forgive me for revealing the truth about us men not being so stupid.  I really should say nothing.  Cosmopolitan Magazine will get a hold of it, and women's obsession for pretty shoes will only go up.  The overloaded increase in demand for shoes may cause violence in shoe stores as the lines get longer and longer and the buyers more desperate.

But the truth must come out.  Men DO notice shoes.  I can even tell without looking if a woman is using salsa shoes or tango shoes.  I avoid looking into anyone's eyes watching on the dance floor periphery as I dance.  I look slightly down.  I see a pair a shoes.  I say, "I want to dance with the woman in those shoes."  And later I look at her eyes and nod (actually look down at her shoes) and then we dance.  Some people call this nod a "cabezeo."  It is actually the wobble of a man's head as it goes from eyes to shoes.

Then when I see that she is taller than last time from her stilettos, I restrain from saying in a low, soft, sexy voice in her ear, "Querida, size does matter."  At the end of the night, I insist on helping her get out of her shoes.  Her husband's eyebrows go up, but she lets me. He wants to kill me, but not because of my hands on her feet but because NOW she knows, and their budget for buying a house has been trashed.

I told you; this is not going to make things better.  I am taking down my sign outside my door that says "Cabellero."  I just realized something.  I am a dolt after all.  This was all bad news.  Really.

If you want good news.  Here is something for you:  
Please note how the good news continues in the comments to this blog -- how nearly every woman agrees with the good news that men are truly less then the better half of the world.  Shoe sales will stay stable.  That is the good news.


  1. Tanguera from Australia. I have been lucky enough to have been to Buenos Aires three times to learn Tango . Each time my shoes are the most important of all items. I now house a special closet with 21 pairs of beautifully crafted tango shoes so I have more than a pair for every day of the week. Sometimes I will take 2 pairs to a milonga if I want to change during the evening.
    Ladies, it is a must have, but they must be comfortable. Happy dancing feet, Shirley

  2. Could you please give an example of tango shoes vs salsa shoes, and explain how they are different?

  3. Querido,
    in the world, there are dolts everywhere, of both sexes. In tango however, there are only people, and in the embrace: only the real *person* you're holding. We like to dance with kind, musical, beautiful men too. Oddly, I only see mens shoes as dark/light. Guess I'm a dolt :)

    We ladies know that you guys see & appraise our shoes. Tools matter. A ballroom shoe says "beginner, dabbler". A real tango shoe: "she's been doing this long enough to get (earn?) the right tools." Flats: "maybe foot problems, but here dancing anyhow" 114 pairs of shoes: "Too much time shopping" either that or a "lifetime and a half of dancing".

  4. @Frances: I was kind of being factitious that I could tell the difference between salsa and tango shoes, but there is some truth to this to my "knowing." If a woman is catching her heel on a strap, it is often a salsa shoe. Salsa shoes also are made for much more stop and go. Salsa is a much more grounded dance than tango (balance between heel and toe). Heel size tends to be lower, but that is not the main difference. Visit a quality dance shoe store.

  5. Of course men notice shoes. They notice everything when they feel so inclined!

  6. I notice a distinct difference with the shoes, dancing salsa with tango shoes is tiring as is dancing tango with salsa shoes.
    My salsa shoes has a much more flexible toe and arch which is great for gripping the floor in salsa but will wear out your feet very quickly dancing tango (they also have a fine layer of dust from disuse). Tango shoes have a firmer toe and arch which do not allow you to grip the floor so your focus needs to be grounded through the floor.

  7. @Shirley: I am planning a trip to Australia to see your closet! Seriously, a tanguero/a's shoes are like the musician's instrument.
    @Kristi: Dolts unite! Of course we are not that. Very kind comments.
    @SMW: Sarah, you change your shoes, like a golfer changes golf clubs. :-) Are those your milonga shoes? Love your red sparkle vals shoes... How is it that I didn't know you were a salsera?

  8. I have been ladyleader since 2004 and I still remember the schock I gott when people understood I was serious about leading. They reorganized their relationship to me and I could se the follower attitudes from a different angle.

    I have allways done things I like without taking the social rules too seriously - in that way I concidered myself as a practising feminist.

    When I changed my role I became aware of the pressure men are on the pista and I turned to a burning masculinist!

    My feeling is that followers have taken the right to speak even about leaders in a way so leaders can not defend themselves even if needed.

    That is reason I appreciated your posting on Melinas blog. Usually men are just quiet.

  9. @LeadingLady: Of all the comments on my blog for now a year, yours somehow brought me a great deal of relief. I was hoping for a woman or a man to speak up about the man-bashing going on. There are so many women who dance and it doesn't have anything to do with their ability or beauty. One of my first blogs entries was on my behavioral observations of women who did not dance and woman who do (part 1 and part 2). Here is the the link to part 2 (women who dance): I look forward to following your blog. Sprichst Du deutsch? Ich habe ein par eingedeutschte Wörter gesehen.

  10. @therapist...yep, I danced salsa for about 2 years before I started tango...tango took over all my dancing and I'm very content with that. I was okay at salsa but not truly in love with the dance the way I am with tango.
    @LeadingLady, I got a very shocked reaction to my leading as well. The women love it and the men grumble about it....I have no idea why as we simply don't have enough men who want to dance where I live. It certainly gave me a much greater appreciation for the role that men play in the dance. Unfortunately I still get criticized for leading...sigh. The blame games is played by both genders in my experience and the realization that you can only work on self-improvement often gets buried.

  11. @Sara (SMW): Yo era mas salsero que tanguero. But then it all changed, and tango took over. Evidently that is a common experience. I met a swing dancer who said he didn't want to even try tango, because he saw all of his friends disappear from the swing scene into the black hole of tango. But then he came and just watched. "Now I understand. And I want that," he told me. /// Yes, you are a leading lady too. I cannot wait to experience you leading me. I have no problems with ladies leading -- well except that may are SO BAD at protecting their partner. What is that anyway? I am going to assume that you and LeadingLady do not do that, but so often I have seen great dancing/leading but terrible floorcraft by women who lead. I'd like to hear more of what both of what you think via email, and then perhaps a later blog:

  12. The biggest difference in ballrom/salsa vs. tango shoes is that tango shoes are designed to push you forward into that classic, lean-toward-your-partner tango embrace. I started dancing tango in ballroom shoes (they were cheap and easily available). Now I can't even imagine doing that - after tango shoes they make me feel like I'm leaning backward.

    Mark, I like what you said about kindness as the main quality you're looking for in a follower.

    In my view, tango is, first and foremost, an exchange of energy. Some of us are more conscious of this than others. I know that I'm very aware of the person's energy the moment I begin dancing with him. And I was just thinking the other day that my favorite leaders are not the ones who offer me the fancies steps. It's the ones who create the most positive energetic experience for me. They are the ones who communicate to me - non-verbally, of course - their warmth, depth, kindness, generosity of spirit, or any of the other qualities that connote positive energy to me.
    I would imagine that it's the same for men.

    Great blog, Mark :)

  13. @ Izabella: You said this so succinctly and wonderfully... I hope that people read the comments and find your words. Wonderful. You have made the three tandas I have danced with you some of the most wonderful magical moments I have had as a dancer. After reading your words, I better understand what was happening -- positive energy and a wonderful accepting embrace. Milonga is nearly always fun, but even on a wild dance floor last night you made it outrageous, euphoric fun. ¡Hasta la próxima vez!


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