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…
Absolutely Bloody Brilliant Barbie Award
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 dealbreaker.com.