What a relief to have cash again! Two weeks with no ATM card in a city where cash (in small bills) is the preferred method of payment, often the only accepted method of payment, put me on a pretty tight budget. I celebrated the delivery of my long awaited PIN with a trip to Comme Il Faut on Wednesday afternoon.
Not sure exactly when I turned into a woman willing to shell out over 100 U.S. dollars for a pair of shoes, but it happened somewhere between the first time I heard DiSarli over two years ago and the day I first walked into a tango shoe store in Buenos Aires last year. The flashy colors, glitter and smell of new leather somehow re-wired my brain. In my defense, a good pair of dancing shoes (even with three-inch heels) really does make the difference in foot comfort when dancing for hours on end.
Comme Il Faut shoes are highly regarded in the tango community, but I had no luck last year finding the perfect pair. My trip to the tiny boutique in Recoleta this week was a little different. The first pair presented to me ultimately ended up being the one I chose, but not before trying on over a dozen pairs ranging from simple to shiny, glittery to down right gaudy. (Honestly, some are just plain tacky and ugly.)
After plunking down $500 pesos (you can do the math, and I did get a $20 peso discount for paying in cash) for my pink, turquoise and black patent leather beauties with a tulip design on the heel, I did start to feel a little guilty. First, I really am not a woman that splurges on frivolity. Designer names have never been my thing. I shop clearance racks for clothes and, prior to my trip last year, had never spent more than $25 on a pair of shoes. Well, maybe $50 for my first few pairs of ballroom dance shoes, but I found them to be a poor substitute for a quality leather Argentine tango shoe. Second, the economy in Argentina is bad. Most Argentines don't have $500 pesos for dance shoes. It feels a little "rude American" to strut around at a milonga in a brand new pair Comme Il Fauts.
I texted my reservations to Matthew as I waited for the Subte, my sleek Comme Il Faut bag in hand; the locals gawking at my billboard of shame. "Too fancy for the town they were born in?" He replied. "They should be ashamed." Still, I thought, perhaps I should just save them for when I get back to the states. That didn't happen.
My new Comme Il Fauts got a double dip in the milonga pool that night when my friend Carmen and I went to Salon Canning after discovering that the quality of dance partners at Confitería Ideal on a Wednesday evening was down right horrendous. My urge to break-in my new purchase won out over my sense of decency. Tourist venues, is my partial justification. My shoes really didn't stand out amidst the other Comme Il Fauts, Neo Tangos, and other top-dollar dance sandals on the floor. I am employing Argentines by buying and using them, right? (Big sigh.) Or maybe I really am just another rude American.