Maestro Marko Miljevic, during a workshop, wore the most shiny, unscratched, black lacquered shoes I ever saw. They reminded me of a colleague who judged people’s character based on their shoes. “People forget, but the shoes give away who they are,” he claimed. Immaculately dressed always, he preferred gleaming, classic brown leather brogues, never a speck of dirt on them. “It’s very little information to judge a person’s character on,” I said, preemptively hiding my feet under my chair. I thought it was all nonsense, but it planted a sticky thing in my brain that made me wonder what these shoes told me, about Marko.
I’m not a shoe guy, though. I own sneakers for leisure time and a formal pair for professional situations, both bought in under ten minutes. A third pair is the collateral damage of an eight-minute emergency purchase, on a business trip to Helsinki. They are my most comfortable pair, but my former colleague would probably diagnose me as senile, seeing them. These three pairs are the sole survivors of a long process of elimination, leading to the tragic disposal of at least ten unused “comfortable-but-awkward-looking”, or “fashionable-but-feet-torturing” pairs in the last decade.
Considering this experience, you may understand my epic challenge in picking tango footwear. I used to prefer stealth shoes; shoes nobody could see. They had to have suede soles because I blamed any lack of balance on my shoes. I had soft rubber heels added to keep me from slipping. I developed a deep hatred for Argentinian or Italian design and learned that a dancer needs deep pockets when his feet prove his ancestors crawled out of the sea at one time.
In my first three tango years, I took six or seven pairs to the recycling container. My early choices signaled to followers that I was a dull, colorless, clueless dancer without direction. An unwritten rule says that male dancers’ shoes should match their dancing level, but I needed the upgrade. “It’s my mid-life crisis, so fuck it, I’ll wear whatever I like”, I thought. I bought attention-grabbing black-and-white leather shoes, aiming to transform myself into the dancer worthy of wearing them. I wore them for many years, and when they fell apart, moved them to the trunk of my car as backup. I replaced them with modest black ones, with a subtle white line. I moved on to a new phase.
Marko Miljevic’s tango turned out to be as impeccable and professional as his shoes, just like my colleague predicted. He also proved to be a funny, reliable guy with an eye for detail. His partner Maja Petrovic wore inconspicuous flesh-colored high heels, so I couldn’t let that go without inquiring. “They’re just a tool for me. I don’t want people to watch my shoes, I want them to look at me,” she said. Later, Marko and Maja delivered an impressive performance to thunderous applause. Everybody was indeed looking at her. “Marko was wearing the same shoes as during the workshops. What does that tell you?” I asked a friend. “I think his shoes say more about you than about him,” she suggested. “Right,” I said, glancing at her shoes. From what I saw there, she probably had a point.
Published: 20 Jun 2023 @ 13:44