Archive for 2007

All about my tango shoes

Posted in Other on August 27th, 2007

Lately I have been spending quite a lot of time on studying shoes. Out of curiosity, I dissolved few pairs of my old tango shoes, because I would like to know what makes a tango shoe special. I don’t know if I already found the answer. However, if you would like to know your tango shoes more than what you can normally see, then please read the following.

*Please note that all the photos here are the result of my “research”. If anyone wants to use them for whatever purposes, please ask for my permission.*

Mr. Tango 1
Both man and woman’s shoes share the same structure – upper, insole, outsole and heel. Upper is the part that covers our feet, insole is the part where the bottom of our feet has contact with the shoes, and outsole is the part where the shoe has contact with the ground. The photo above shows (from left to right) the upper, the cover of the insole, insole, outsole and the heel.


Heel is attached to the shoe by nails. The number of nails used, the type of nails used and how the nails are attached vary from different shoemakers. Unless the heel is badly attached to the shoe – a wrong heel is installed to the shoe, the heel is not centered to the shoes or the nails are badly attached; with the enforcement of the nails, the heel should be very strong.

It’s not very difficult to find out whether the heels are well installed. The shoe (new shoe) should perfectly stands on its heel, and the heel should be firmly installed to the shoe. If the shoe wobbles on its own, then for sure it won’t give you a good support and balance.

Ladies, if you manage to break the heel of your tango shoes, if it’s not coming from your shoes, then it must be coming from you. Usually your old shoes can tell if you have this problem. Take out your old tango shoes and place it on a flat surface (e.g. table or floor), observe the angle between the surface and the heel. If the heel is still perfectly straight, forms a right angle to the surface and can still stand perfectly on its own, that’s good news for you. It means your shoe is still in good condition (at least from a structural point of view) and you can probably continue to wear it. If not, then probably the heel is “overused” – you have been relying too much on your heels to balance and support your body weight when you dance. Actually, it does not only happen in tango, ladies who don’t know how to walk on their high heels share the same problem, and it reflects on their shoes. Solution? Change your way of walking and get a new pair of shoes.


Then in between the insole and the outsole, there’s a shank spring. It’s a piece of metal placed at the hollow area of the sole to support the arch of our feet. In many cases (especially for woman’s shoes), the shank spring is embedded into the insole. Like the one shown in the photo, the shank spring is inside the insole that is made of plastic.

So what makes tango shoes special? I think there’re two things.

First is the padding. See the photos below and then you will understand why we usually find our tango shoes more comfortable than the other shoes.

Mr. Tango 2


Second, the upper is firmly attached to the insole so that the shoes won’t get lose easily. Nowadays, most of the woman shoes are assmbled by strong rubber cement. Tango shoemakers use rubber cement too, but some also use nails. I was surprised by the number of nails I found inside my shoes, and now I understand why my tango shoes are so strong.




Finally, if you wonder who are my “victims” – Delia, Mr. Tango and Comme Il Faut.