Vio’s weird shoes

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The most common thing for someone to say to me at a milonga is “you can’t dance in those shoes”. About 5 minutes later, they realize they’re wrong.

When I started dancing, one of the main attractions was the chance to dress up often, including high heels. Since I was about 14 I’ve had more high heels than places to wear them. When I finally started dancing tango, of course I’d wear the most fabulous shoes I could find. These turned out to be 6”/15cm heels with 2″/5cm platforms covered in glitter. I felt great in those shoes.

Four years later, I took my first trip to Buenos Aires. Concerned to appear respectful, I bought my first pair of actual tango shoes. I called these shoes my “flats”.  As always in flat shoes, I felt decidedly unsexy. When I stepped onto the dance floor in these I felt like I was wearing house slippers. I got a bit conformist when I went to Argentina, and I regret it.

On that trip I visited every tango shoe store, just to ask if they would do custom shoes with platforms, and how high. The best offer I got was a meager 1 cm, about 1/6 what I was used to.

As a leader, I find that shoes with a lot of elasticity in the sole, like thick boots, work very well for me and I can follow in them as well. These days in Argentina a lot of dancers are using rubber soles. Certain kinds of rubber give you strength and still pivot well.

I encourage my students to experiment with shoes, because some followers dance so much better in flats than heels, but they don’t know until they try. For everyone, I recommend avoiding expensive and unfashionable dance shoes, buying normal shoes they find attractive and having the soles re-done if necessary. Shoemakers can even build you a mixed sole, with the pivot area in one material and the outer edge in another.

I also believe that tango needs to be more contemporary and fashionable so it doesn’t get stuck as a cliché and relic. I want people to dance, so I want tango to appear as relevant to a lot of different cultural contexts.

Here’s a basic guide to choosing shoes for tango.

Here’s my history of shoes

We all need more students, more dancers in our milongas, and great partners to dance with for the next few decades…

How can we Popularize Tango?

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And Why.

 

With Sven Elze, Founder of the very popular Milonga Popular – Berlin, we’ve created a Thinkbook for Organizers, exploring how we can define the Tango Tribe who will resonate with each of us, find new marketing channels, craft resonant messages and images, and create experiences that make students fall in love with Tango from the first session.

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Power is the courage, confidence, and competence to make things happen. I want to create in a way that’s incomparable and define my own compensation package. You too?

Syntax of Power is a raw, potent, and spare revelation of how I got to where I am and how I take on the struggle every day.

This book is not about tango, it’s about everything else.

It’s about stepping into the darkness of change, learning how to take care of yourself, and making things happen.

Dyv stands for Duro y Vio. We were inspired by a 2007 conference at Harvard University about tango as a transnational culture. Also we wanted to create something that would help people to imagine a queerer tango. We forbid ourselves to use the word ‘passion’ and instead tried to articulate the experience more precisely.

Argentine Tango is more than an elaborate and difficult dance, it is an international culture of intimacy, desire, and dignity. No mere romance or memoir, the intricately woven stories evoke tango’s true mysteries … the elation, the frustration, the compulsion…

We published the book in 2009. Dancers asked “how did you know what I was feeling?”

Silences in history. Silences by code. Silences of fear. You already know that Tango’s silences can be sublime and they can be devastating.

What I do in my blog is use myself as a lens – sometimes a microscope, sometimes a telescope. I try to be as honest with myself and you as words concede. Then I try to find a deeper meaning and imagine a pathway for us.

A blog post can be a fragment, a wisp of inspiration, an outline for thinking. A book must complete and reconcile it all. Now I drag the social scientist to the scene to enumerate the facts of the case, the mystery which brought both stardom and tragedy to my life.

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