For reasons I may never understand, our movers decided that nearly every pair of shoes I own should go to storage, rather than coming here to Vienna. Only about 6 pairs of my shoes made it to Vienna — and that includes a pair of snow boots. Although this would have been an emergency for a lot of women, I managed to get through my first 9 months here with only one shoe purchase, but with the ball coming up next week, I need a pair of shoes that isn’t snow boots or sandals.
So yesterday I went shoe shopping. If all goes well, we should be at the ball, dancing, for hours — so in addition to looking great with my as yet kind of unknown style of dress, I need shoes that won’t hurt me or keep me from dancing to my heart’s content. I have no idea how many balls at palaces I will get to attend in my lifetime, but since the number for the first 35 years of my life is 0, I’m not counting on there being lots more opportunities.
Given that set of requirements, I couldn’t help it — the only thing I could think of was dance shoes. I have half a dozen pretty, comfy, broken in, pairs of dance shoes . . . at home, in storage. They’re remarkably comfortable (for heels) and have suede soles, for the perfect combination of traction and slipperiness for dancing. I just couldn’t think of anything better.
It was remarkably difficult to find a place to buy dance shoes in Vienna (maybe everyone just wears regular shoes) but once I found a place, it was easy to get to on the strassenbahn and then the bus — 20 minutes from my front door.
I walked in, and was overwhelmed with familiarity. Here was a place I could understand. I “speak” dance shoes — International, Supadance, Werner Kern, Ray Rose. I know what size I need, what styles I like, which fabrics and materials are best for my purposes. And the people were familiar — it turns out ballroom dancers are pretty much the same here as at home: there was a couple of newer dancers buying their first dance shoes, a woman who just couldn’t find the right pair of shoes (she must have tried on two dozen pairs and was unhappy with every one), another woman looking for something new and sparkly, and a group of three people who came in with their instructor (a Brazilian, English speaking salsa dancer) who left with 8 pairs of shoes among them. It was so wonderful to be in a comfort zone, to understand, to feel knowledgeable. The only shop employee who spoke English was the owner, and he was happy to help me — at first he directed me to not help myself to anything on the shelves, he would help me, but he kept getting pulled away to do other things and help other customers, so within 5 minutes he had set me loose. I poked around and tried on a few pairs — I already know what fits and what I like — and found the perfect shoes.
It didn’t take me long to find my shoes, but I didn’t want to leave. It was so comforting to be someplace so familiar, with people I could understand (even the ones I couldn’t talk to). I’m very excited to have found my shoes. I’m also glad for the reminder that I ought to get myself back in to doing something that I love, just for fun — dancing or riding (or both?). I want to get back that comfortable feeling, the confidence, that comes from doing something I’m good at — it’s kind of been a while.