Thursday, 31 January 2013


A couple of years ago, our salsa teachers used to split men and women at the start of class to warm up with shines. While us ladies learnt to be elegant and to spin fast, I couldn't help but notice that the men were learning to simultaneously bounce and glide across the floor. While I was learning to look pretty, they were learning to look cool.

I soon found out that they were doing was learning Pachanga.

The most I could manage in imitation was a comedy jerky movement which I quickly abandoned.  It turned out that Pachanga was impossible.  A class with Adolfo Indacochea at the GBSex pre-party and another with Melissa Rosado at Mambo City a few months later did nothing to convince me otherwise.  (Though I'm blatantly name dropping now, at the time I had no idea that I was attempting to learn from some of the pachanga greats!)

In spite of my promises to myself, fresh from a congress, camera fully loaded with clips from classes I’d taken, I never did study the videos from those classes in great detail, and so I never managed to crack that elusive pachanga.

At the Berlin salsa congress it all changed.  When I spotted three consecutive hours of pachanga workshops on the programme with greats such as Mouaze, Marco Ferrigno and Juan Matos I knew where I’d be spending my last tired afternoon of the congress – and by the end of the classes… I still couldn’t do it! 

My fears were confirmed when I tried to fit a bit of pachanga into a Juan Matos shine at my local salsa venue. 

“What are you doing?  Pretending to ski?”
“No.” I sulked and went back to doing something else.

I don’t remember consciously practising – and I never set aside and particular time to do so, but it was definitely in my head. And I definitely ‘pretended to ski’ around the house quite a lot when I got the chance.

Then one night, people suddenly wanted me to tell them how to do the basic pachanga step and I got accused of practising! 

That’s when I knew I could do it.

I can confirm that it's definitely not as simple as starting on your left foot and jumping to your right:

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Comme il Faut

I'd just bought two pairs of Burjus and I'd just paid for my second Open University module when the slightly tipsy sounding Gisele emailed me from Argentina to ask if I still wanted a pair of tango shoes bringing back.

They're just over £100.  Is that OK?

It wasn't really OK - my bank account was looking barer than Mother Hubbard's cupboard but Christmas was just around the corner and I did deserve a nice present...

I emailed her back with my instructions:

Size 39*. 
You can choose the style.  
Here's a link to my Dance Shoes board on Pinterest for an idea of what I like.
Nothing too ordinary.

It was about a week before I got a cryptic message back:

OMG have just bought you the most amaaahhhhhzing shoes! 
Even Adam is impressed.

And Adam is a boy!! I think she was drunk again but she was on her honeymoon, so I reckon that's allowed.

It turns out that when you buy expensive shoes, you get what you pay for.

Check out the shoe bag(s) on this!

Each shoe is packed away in its own individual pocket of satin finish shoe bag.  AND it comes with an over the shoulder bag to put them away in, making them easier to carry and easier to store all those little extras that I usually cram into my shoe bag: hand sanitiser, fan, perfume, brush etc.

The individual shoe pockets give your precious shoes just that little extra protection and might well be something that I'm converted to as my taste in shoes is obviously getting a bit more expensive of late...

Naturally I will have to replace these shoe bags with my own hand-made version, because I shouldn't really be seen carrying anything but a Mambo Delight bag around with me, but for now, they're working out just nicely.

Oh - I nearly forgot!  The shoes:

That's right - they don't match!  And they certainly get a reaction - from people who just can't stop staring, to those who aren't quite sure, but don't really know how to tell me.  Regardless of whether people like them or not - they always comment.

My first proper pair of tango shoes are pretty special. When I worked in a shoe shop, I used to tell the children who didn't like their new trainers,  that they would make them run faster.  I don't think that these shoes actually make me dance better - but with the placement of the heel being in the optimum place, I genuinely think that they make it easier for me to keep my weight forward when I'm dancing.  

So now I just need to work on the posture, balance, leg extension, embrace etc... because when I'm wearing these babies, there's always going to be someone in the room looking at my feet. Hopefully they'll be so dazzled by the shoes they won't notice my clumsy footwork!

*Just in case anyone was thinking of buying me some shoes, I'm usually a size 40, but Comme il Faut come up bigger.  Thank you!

Sunday, 6 January 2013


Well hello there!  It's been a while hasn't it?

A New Year's Day sale on Etsy reminded me of my poor neglected shop and I realised that there's barely anything in there at the moment.  I keep buying fabric, but I never get round to pulling the sewing machine out of its nest in the bottom of the wardrobe unless someone's commissioned me to make something. So if you want something, do get in touch...

I'm intending to make more things this year. I was going to start this weekend, but I got a 5 season boxset of Dexter for Christmas, which means I've spent the weekend getting to know a loveable serial killer instead.  But soon.  I promise!

The good thing about not having blogged since September is that I've got a lot of things saved up to tell you about.  But don't worry, I'm intending to break it down into a series of several shorter posts.

I'll start with my not-so-new shoes.  While I was at the Berlin Salsa Congress taking a few awesome classes with Victor and Burju (amongst others), I got a marketing email telling me where there were some Burju shoes on sale, so I bit the bullet and ordered my first pair (Black Pearl), which happen to be the ones on the business card:

Apart from being the most comfy things I've had on my dancing feet, since my jazz shoes, they also draw a fair few compliments from strangers, my favourite of which was "Cracking shoes luv."  I was so wowed by my first pair, that I got straight back online and ordered a second, this time the Anyas:

Being a more luxury range than I usually buy, they come with a higher quality, branded shoe bag:

As you can see - it's windowed! 

The obvious advantage of this is that you can see which pair of shoes you're picking up as you leave the house so there's less chance of turning up to that party with shoes that clash with your outfit.  Also,  it makes it easier for you to stare at your pretty, pretty shoes.

However, once you've finished dancing the night away in a warm venue, and you carefully put your shoes in their bag, the window does tend to steam up, which suggests it's not quite as breathable as your sweaty shoes probably need.  

The solution? Ask me to make a shoe bag to match your shoes - then you won't need a window to see what's inside!