Heady from a ‘hips not body’ tango hour with Ariel, where I am perfecting my high boleos of both the square and circular varieties (that I never dance in the milongas!), I manage to end up at Malabia Subte station when it should be Medrano. Ah well fashionably late as usual, I eventually sort my brain out and we are back among the fields of tango shoes bearing flowers.
Today we have all the time our hearts desire and we take it. Once again we are the only customers. While G. deliberates, I notice that many of the shoes are priced at $300pesos, and therefore less costly than I first thought. The staff are extremely helpful and at least one person speaks English, though we all stick to Castellano.
G. asks many questions about this shoe and that shoe, and it gradually dawns on us that actually we can pretty much build our own: this front, that back, this leather (they bring various gorgeous samples from the backroom), that colour, this flower, that heel. And in the end that is exactly what we do: simple medium width toe bar, double wrap (very flattering and I insist) ankle strap with semi closed heel, black crocodile leather (I prefer the shiny patent but can’t persuade her), toning flower on front, 8cm heel of the thicker (I go for the thinner every time but my persuasive powers are not enough – and I understand, ‘It just feels so stable,’ she insists, and she is probably right) variety: $330pesos.
The upside is that G. gets exactly what she wants in her shoe (or hopes she does), the downside is that you don’t actually get to try the shoe you are buying so you could find out it looks like ‘La Viruta 6am when the lights come on’, when you finally see the finished article… We try to stop ourselves getting carried away with red flowers and black crocodile for example, or a bouquet of blossoms rather than one strategically placed. We attempt to minimise the risk by trying on as many shoes as possible with at least one of the characteristics we seek, and this is why you need a bit of time. The available choices are baffling and exciting. I decide I am definitely more of a ‘see, try and buy the whole shoe on the spot’ type of girl, but G. seems delighted to create her own from scratch, and of course I can see the attraction. The shoes will be ready in around fifteen days by which time we think the shop will have moved to a more central Palermo location (when I get the new address, I will add an update to this post).
I don’t try on a single shoe! I end up buying two clip on leather flowers which I may use on one of my more ‘creative’ days to dress up some existing shoes in the style of ‘Miss Primavera 2008’. Of course there is a strong possibility that I won’t be able to carry it off, and the exquisite little leather blooms will never see outside of my apartment. But hell, it makes me feel like I am joining in the spring shoe fest, and at $35pesos its a cheap way to do it. We find out that Greta Flora will soon be designing and selling a wider range of dance wear: the staff look closely at a skirt G. is wearing, and so I think you might be seeing something similar for sale soon. G. in her turn buys a simple flattering wrap dress with a beautiful fabric belt involving a flower (naturally) that they have already created. I approve.
All in all (assuming the shoes are as beautifully made as we expect them to be) this tango shoe buying experience is an excellent one: staff who want to help you get exactly what your heart desires, reasonable prices, and from what I saw/heard, fine craftsmanship and an understanding of the needs of the feet of dancers.
So here’s the bottom line. If you are in Buenos Aires and in a rush to have your Greta Flora shoes for dancing on the same day, then you will have to choose from the shoes in stock in your size. If you have a few weeks, then you will be able to pick up your ‘made just for you’ pair before you leave, or I guess get them sent on.
Alternatively you might not be planning a trip to Buenos Aires at all. In which case Greta Flora do have agents in other lands, one of whom introduced me to these shoes in the first place. Why not check her out, and support the enterprise of a fellow and much loved tanguera friend in the process?
And as promised today October 3rd, I received this flyer from Greta Flora with the new shop address and opening times.