And the first ever Absolutely Bloody Brilliant Barbie Award (ABBBA) goes to…

IMGP4028 It happened because I offered to buy a few pairs of men’s tango shoes for friends in Britain. It happened because I finally decided to consider a tango shoe for myself, that I’d previously ruled out because it didn’t look like the CiFs I was used to. It happened because my Spanish is now at a level where I am not so fixated on my own inadequacies that I miss noticing the soul who is speaking to me.  This week my absolutely bloody brilliant Barbie spotted another absolutely bloody brilliant Barbie and the…

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Absolutely Bloody Brilliant Barbie Award

was born.

I saw the Barbie too. I saw it in the eyes of the shoe designer who sat in front of me, as he told me that he never stops thinking about how he can make the best tango shoe in the world. I saw it in the inspired and unique interchangeable sole of the 2x4alpie shoe he held in his hand. I heard it in his slightly breathless voice as he told me why, regardless of the horrendous inflation in Argentina and the effect it has on the price of his shoes, he will never compromise on quality.

Afterwards, Me and my Barbie stood shivering in the freezing cold at ‘the quinze’ bus stop in Scalabrini Ortiz, but our excitement kept us warm.

Sallycat, we have to party! trilled Barbie, and she continued in a rush, I mean Sallycat, in the battle against the VODs, you just gotta talk Barbies, and not just your Barbie. You gotta shout about the other Barbies in the world too. Make beautiful Barbie noise, and drown out the VODs! Don’t you think, Sallycat? Oh don’t you? Don’t you? Oh please say you do!

Oh I do. I do.

So I will. With this award. Which I shall give freely, whenever my Barbie wants.

I remember back in 2007 when 2x4alpie was just starting to sell shoes. There was no shop in those days. Chacho was a mate of Ariel’s and he used to bring the shoes to Club Gricel on Saturday nights and we all used to marvel at the interchangeable soles. I was a bit dubious: Would I really want to change the soles? Would the ingenious velcro system actually be strong enough to hold the new sole in place? Wouldn’t the sole catch on uneven floors?

IMGP4037 I did love how the ladies practice shoes were about as far away from the usual clunky trainer style as you could get, made me feel like a princess (I hadn’t discovered Barbie at that point), and came in gold with holes in the upper to let the air flow cool over hot feet. Carlos fell for the wine coloured shoes in the softest leather I had ever touched. There were no ladies tango heels back then and anyway I was buying CiFs. Me and C. couldn’t resist though, and we started our family of 2x4s.

IMGP3955 Ariel often danced in Chacho’s shoes too and he went for the totally cool man designs in black and white or brown and white. Style-wise, I’ve never seen anything to compare anywhere else, to be honest. Maybe it’s the shoe shape, maybe it’s the specific pattern of the one leather laid on the other, maybe it’s in the softness of the leathers themselves… I don’t know, but when I see a man in these shoes, I see class, I see trendy, cutting edge… I see a tango dancer who knows what’s what. C. says that when he puts his 2x4s on he is transformed, becomes a bit of a ‘lad’ apparently, a dancer with attitude. In other words, his own dancing Barbie likes the shoes too.

Last year at the BsAs Tango Festival in Harrods I did try on a pair of the women’s tango shoes. I wanted them because they were the most comfortable I had ever put on my dancing feet, but I was still umming and ahhing about whether I liked the thicker than CiF heels. A male British mate of mine, let’s call him Greg, was with me that day, and he did splash out in the men’s department. He took his first ever pair of black suede 2x4s back to tango Britain. Was he the first Brit tourist to buy? Not sure, but I came away happy that Chacho’s gorgeous shoes would see the south of Inglaterra at least.

IMGP3969 Now I’m headed back to Britain in July, and Greg has asked for two more pairs of 2x4s: the proof of the pudding as they say… and so I make my visit to the shop this week, because yes, there is now a 2×4 shop. This time I try on the women’s tango shoes again. I’ve come along way on my tango journey in the ten months since the trip to Harrods last August. I no longer care about the width of the heel or the lack of glitter or lace… all I’m interested in is whether I can dance my heart out in this shoe. From the second my foot slips into the black and white pair, I have my answer – this time there is no hesitation.

IMGP4016 Chacho and Me sit in his shop for a bit with some choccie biccies and he shows me the old ladies tango shoe, once the property of a very famous tango dancer, that he took apart when he was working out how to make his shoes. He tells me how the famous lady tango dancer said to him, Make this shoe, but make it better. He shows me the stuff we wearers of tango shoes normally never see: the cardboard inside the shoe base, which eventually cracks and splits with serious dancing; the synthetic upper that looks convincingly like leather but isn’t, the lack of elastic at the buckle or the elastic that has torn with stress. He shows me how a 2×4 shoe is made… no cardboard in sight… just leather, leather and more leather.

IMGP3964 He reveals that it took eight months to develop the rubber/suede/leather interchangeable sole system. I tell him that I will definitely be using it: between the sweaty baldosa floor of La Milonguita, the glass like surface of La Ideal, the slippery wood in Centro Regiòn Leonesa, I know I am going to test it to its limit. No problem, he says.

While Chacho talks I notice something in him that I recognise. I see the same thing that’s in me when I talk about how I want my ebook (now in its second draft, honest) to help first timers on the road to happy Buenos Aires tango memories, when I talk about wanting to inspire people to follow their hearts, when I talk about wanting to help people to set their own Barbie’s free. I see passion. I hear it too,

I’m always thinking about how I can make them better. Always… he says.

His eyes shine, and my beautiful Barbie sees his Absolutely Bloody Brilliant Barbie. I see it too.

Maybe I should call this Barbie, Ken? After all it does live inside a guy, and God only knows how Chacho would feel about me talking about his Inner Artist this way… but, oh sod it, no, I won’t. I like the idea of an army of Barbie’s mixing creative magic in the world, be they living inside men or women.

So, Chacho Rosenkrantz of 2x4alpie, you unique and special human being you… for mixing tango shoe magic from passion and creativity right here in Buenos Aires, I’m giving you the very first

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Absolutely Bloody Brilliant Barbie Award

whether you like it or not. End of.

And folks around the globe, if you want to see more marvellous photos of 2x4s nestling among the tango shoes I have known, do check out my new and rather super Flickr photoset of that name, for the full celebratory picture book of  Sallycat’s Buenos Aires tango shoe family.

If you actually want to see the 2x4alpie interchangeable sole being changed, check out this little 2×4 video, which gives you a glimpse of just how bloody brilliant it is.

You can find 2x4alpie at Scalabrini Ortiz 1753 Apartment 3, Buenos Aires from 3pm to 7pm Monday to Saturday. If you want to be sure and meet Chacho, then phone before you go 1550112000 to make sure he’s in not out. In June 2009 all 2x4alpie shoes cost $470pesos a pair (when bought direct in Buenos Aires) and come with the full set of 2×4 sole change accessories and the sturdy, practical and super stylish 2x4alpie shoe bag.

And finally, if you own a pair of 2x4s, please feel free to celebrate them here!

The lovely trophy image above was originally on the web at

7 Replies to “And the first ever Absolutely Bloody Brilliant Barbie Award (ABBBA) goes to…”

  1. Sal,

    I love this post! I hope you turn it into a series! Pretty please! The ABBBA (makes me smile) award is the most fabulous idea, and Chacho is a craftsman well deserving of receiving the first ever. I wonder who’ll get the next?

    Love to barbie!


    1. Hey Ken, was wondering when you were gonna pipe up…

      Just when I thought that Barbie had gone one step too far with her crazy creativity and that no-one, but no-one was gonna leave a comment, her biggest fan has saved the day 😉

      Me and Barbie decided that the ABBBA was a super way of recognising and celebrating creativity and passion… and we will award the ABBBA again. We can’t wait to see who will be next!

      Lately I’ve got to thinking that sometimes in this life we just don’t speak up enough about happy things, positive things, loving things, celebratory things. Sometimes people look at me a little strangely when I am on a passionate rant, as if it’s not the done thing and I should be quieter or something…

      I’ve decided it’s time to:
      start shouting even louder about people who are following their hearts;
      encouraging folk in their quests for joy;
      taking the trouble to actually tell people when they inspire me and my heart connects.

      My Fab Friend of the Month spot (in the sidebar of the blog) is another little string to this bow…
      I think it is all part of spreading Wild Love.

      And that you have commented here, means that you have spread some to Barbie and Me too – and on a day when we have ghastly flu, we sure are delighted to receive it!
      Mucho thanks my friend,


  2. Ok Sal

    I know I messed up. I dropped the ball and I’m sorry.:-( I have a whole list of excuses but there all lies…. Truth be told… I have been DANCING… a whole glorious weekend of workshops and milongas and practicas. And yes I did read the post before all the dancing started. And yes, I did comment on it…just not to you… here.

    On the weekend I talked to several people about your posts on shoes. A couple know and follow you. A couple more wanted me to send them the link to your blog. Then as we are starting to take down and put everything away. We had one last couple show up to dance. That’s fine, we leave the music on while we work anyway. She sits down to put on her shoes and out of the bag come this pair of FIRE ENGINE RED heeled BLACK with WHITE poke-a-dotted toes dancing sex machines. I’m thinking to myself,…”self …those are FINE lookin shoes”. She gets up to dance with her man and I go back to work.

    In this venue the lighting is very nice, not to bright and very warm. The walls red brick. The windows floor to ceiling, with the soft cool street light adding contrast to the floor that has the glowing warmth that only old well worn, well aged wood can give you. And this couple dancing alone as the tables and chairs are taken down and put away. It was a scene out of some movie, and I told my teacher so, and we watched, and it was beautiful. (heavy sigh)

    A couple of songs later they took a break. I had been thinking about your post and shoes and I had to know. So I approached her and said. ” This might sound a bit strange coming from a guy, but what make are your shoes?” She said ” Comme il Faut, why? So I told her about your recent post and she said she knew, she read you as well. (This is where I get that weird De Ja Vou feeling. Remember my last comment to you?) Anyway we chatted about shoes. CiF, Greta Flora, 2X4alpie. How much you say C loves his, how your buying some for your mates back home. Then she went back to dance with her man….Did I mention how beautiful they were.

    So that’s me speaking up about happy things and positive things and beautiful things….

    Anyway. Yes I did enjoy your story. Yes I think the ABBBA is bloody brilliant. No I can’t wait to see who gets one next. Yes I think C’s 2x4s are great, er I mean Awesome. Yes I love the colour. BUT I like the black suede better. No you shouldn’t call a male Barbie Ken. I’m sorry Ken but Barbie can’t be a Ken. Inner Artistic Inspiration can absolutely be a Barbie but never a Ken. No I can’t remember why but I think there’s a law.

    OK it’s now 1:45 AM. I’m going off to bed before my wife gives away my side of the bed to someone else. ….

    Just kidding…love to Barbie

    ps what does 2x4alpie mean? up here 2×4 is a hunk of wood used to build things.

    1. Hey mj,

      There ain’t ever any pressure on you to comment here, honest… how utterly lovely that you were out dancing, talking shoes, and noticing how beautiful the world is:

      ‘The walls red brick. The windows floor to ceiling, with the soft cool street light adding contrast to the floor that has the glowing warmth that only old well worn, well aged wood can give you. And this couple dancing alone as the tables and chairs are taken down and put away.’

      Thanks for speaking up about it. Just wonderful! I am there with you all in spirit.

      And indeed it is true that in the looks stakes the CiFs always catch my eyes… I’ve been in the shope twice in the last two weeks and I’ll be back in there today. It’s like seeing jewels spilled out all over the carpet and I WANT THEM ALL! Alas I’m buying for friends back home, but one day there is no doubt, I will choose some for myself again too.

      I do understand about the colour of the 2x4s – he does make some just in plain black suede or plain back leather and they are lovely… I sometimes smile that C. chose the wine ones… his Barbie I guess! Now I’m kind of glad he did choose those because the wine leather isn’t available anymore and so C. has ended up with a limited edition and I am happy for that.
      Someone else told me the other day that the black and white 2x4s I’m taking home for him are ‘his Barbie’ – I thought that was so brilliant. I’m delighted that boys have Barbies too.

      I’m no expert (and yeah I remember 2by4 being a hunk of wood back in Britain too!) but basically 2×4 (dos por cuatro) refers to the rhythm of tango music – 2 strong beats on 4: one TWO three FOUR.
      Hence many folks working in tango use 2×4 as part of their brand name, indeed the tango radio station of Buenos Aires is named La 2×4:

      ‘Al pie’ I am guessing means ‘at the base’ or ‘at the foot’ because ‘al pie del àrbol’ means ‘at the foot of the tree’.

      Does that clear things up a bit?

      Oh and I’m so happy there’s a law about Inner Artists being Barbies and not Kens. Now I don’t need to give it another thought. Perfecto. 😉

      Thx for supporting the ABBBA mj. Barbie’s smiling.

      Keep dancing and keep noticing beauty, SC

  3. I’ve been hemming and hawing about ordering 2X4 Ap Pie shoes…what’s holding me back is the height–8cm? so far, my limit is 7cm CiF’s…any comments on whether they’re comparable? thanks and thanks for wealth of info on your blog!

    1. Hi Ann, sorry for delay; I’m in the UK with my Mum who is very poorly, so I am a bit distracted from tango matters at the moment.
      I don’t think I can help you on this specific point if I’m honest. Before I got the 2x4s I had been wearing the highest CiFs for many months, I think 10cm. The 2x4s therefore felt a great relief! With the high CiFs I had pain in my left ball of the foot joint, it was much easier with the 2x4s – far less pain. I found them very stable, more forgiving to the foot (thicker sole) than the high CiFs, and I found that they seemed to become one with my feet so that I almost forgot that I was wearing them, which was what I wanted. I found the changeable soles very very useful for the different types of floor in Buenos Aires. That’s all I can really say. I like them very much and intend to buy another pair.
      I also wear Alanis. The are very very light with a good cushion underfoot and again become at one with my feet. The 2x4s are not as light but I feel completely protected and safe in them! It so depends on our personal preferences doesn’t it?
      I wish you well with whatever you choose.
      I’m so glad the blog has been helpful to you. If you don’t already have it, perhaps you might enjoy reading ‘Happy Tango’; even if you aren’t planning an immediate trip to Buenos Aires, I think it’s quite an enjoyable read for anyone passionate about tango and interested in the Buenos Aires tango scene and tango culture.
      Un abrazo tanguera, SC.

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