Thursday, April 23, 2015

Shoe Woes

I grew up poor so whenever we bought shoes for school, we bought them a bit big so we could "grow into them" over the school year. My uncles on my mom's side are 6'6", my aunts on my dad's side are 5'2". That gave this tiny waif a lot of possibility for foot growth, and created a comfort with wearing shoes that are a bit too big. I think I still buy my shoes a half size larger than I need because I'm used to my toes not touching the front of the shoe.

In junior high, I bought a pair of pumps and incorporated them into my regular wardrobe. I ran down our country hill to catch the bus in those pumps. I wore pumps in high school and junior college, wearing them comfortably in shows. I had pumps down by the time I entered the grunge years of flannel and faux Birkenstocks.

In 2006, I started pole dancing and learned how to walk in stripper shoes. I wore 6" platform heels and climbed the pole with no problem. The art of pole dancing is athletic yet slow, and I was able to do the walks and turns, transition from standing to floor work back to standing with relative ease. I could have gone grocery shopping in stripper shoes, but I prefer closed-toe shoes that allow me to move faster in life. (I read survival books as a hobby.)

Over my burlesque years, I've danced in boots, kitten heels, ballroom shoes, Chuck Taylors, platform Mary Janes, stripper shoes, and barefoot. In my daily life, I wear Crocs or tennis shoes because I don't have a job that requires the fancy shoes. I've danced on all sorts of stages. I know what precautions I need to take with certain shoes and certain surfaces to keep from wiping out. I've also wiped out, which may or may not have fractured my tailbone in 2008.

I've also had some injuries. I've pulled my groin on more than one occasion. I've had issues with my left knee and can't crouch as low as I once could. I run into things and trip over things all the time in my daily life. I know I'm not the only dancer who is a klutz in life. 

Most importantly, I want to look good on stage. I've gotten unsolicited shoe advice from so many other dancers. Some buy shoes that are too small, some soak their shoes then wear them so they fit perfectly, some say that shoes with a heel less than 3" are unacceptable, some swear by dancing in stripper shoes. (To be fair, shoes with a higher heel will help roll your pelvis in so you don't look as full in the tummy.)

For my newest number that's been on stage for a year, I wanted shoes that I could remove and put back on later in the number. I wanted to look tall, as statuesque as a girl who's 5'3" possibly can. I bought some good shoes with a low platform that were maybe a little big for my foot when I bought them. (I didn't want them to stick to my feet when I needed to remove them because struggling is not beautiful.) I danced in them for ten months, noticing that my feet were getting a bit smaller as I lost some weight. They were Nine West evening shoes, and they worked fairly well for this very choreographed number. When it was obviously time to get a smaller shoe, I decided to get one with a higher platform but the same rise. I went through three pairs of shoes from Amazon before I settled on a beautiful pair that had a higher platform and was already embellished. I spent time wearing them around the house to be sure I could comfortably move in them.

I wore them for a local show, taking them on a test run on the stage before the show to be sure they wouldn't give me fits. I had my former shoes with me, just in case. The higher platform made it a bit tougher to maneuver the shoes back onto my feet from standing or crouching, but I could make them work because the venue had a wall that I could use for support. Yay! I could actually look statuesque, even if I had to take smaller steps with my turns.

I took these beauties out of town with me, and this time I left the former, too-big shoes at home. I walked the stage in the beauties, testing my choreography to be sure I could do all of the moves. This particular venue only had a curtain at the top of the stage, so I didn't have a wall for support to remove and replace my shoes. The stage was a little slicker so my steps became even smaller. My dry run went fine so I thought I'd be okay for the show. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

These beauties did me no favors. I stumbled over cracks in the stage. My jumpsuit got caught on the embellishment of the shoes. I swear that my ankles were wobbling back and forth in the shoes. I could see the audience's faces, and they were either unimpressed with my basic walking skills or felt sorry for me because what kind of dumbass would wear those shoes to someplace other than a nightclub? I nearly wiped out when I removed the shoes, and I didn't put those beauties back on. It was safer to end the number barefoot than fall on my face trying to put them back on. I love this number so much, and the shoes did me no favors to share that love with the audience. That was it.

Despite all the advice I'd been given from many dancers, I had to face what was right for me. I'm a dancer. I'm not the best dancer, but I do more than parade and pose in most of my numbers. I incorporate a lot of dance basics with turns and smiles. I had to face that I need to wear dance shoes if I want to be able to execute dance moves and look good doing them. If I was posing, I'd be fine in the stripper shoes. I move around too much, so it was time to go back to ballroom shoes.

I just got some custom ballroom shoes from Light in the Box this morning. (Thanks to Pearl Lux for the recommendation.)
I paid an extra $10 to have expedited delivery. I think I put in the order two weeks ago. I put these on this morning and kicked my way around my carpeted living room, so happy about my decision. I've heard that a good pair of ballroom shoes will set you back about $100. These were custom made (meaning I selected the heel height, style, and color from their options). I may get a few more pairs with different heel heights. The ones I got are 2-1/4" and are fantastic! I'm wearing them when I debut my new number next week. I don't know if I have time to embellish them before the show, but this price makes it easy for me to think with having one pair of shoes to match each number.

I still have the beauties. I saved them for photoshoots or situations where I'm just parading and posing. I have to see if I can strip off my jumpsuit over a pair of these suckers because they were built for dancing.

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