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6 Days in Clarks’ Soul of Africa

Clarks' Soul of Africa Mules Warming Up in Somerville

Yikes! Once I freed these mules from their box, they got quite a workout.  For a few decadent minutes, I warmed them on the marble slab above our heater. Barely an hour later, they zipped through the x-ray machine at Logan and headed for Amsterdam.

Less than 24 hours later with water stains waiting for the train in Amsterdam

My socks slid against the slick leather insoles and the tips of my toes got a bit soggy as we  slogged through the snowy streets in Holland. If I had realized that Europe would be seized by such uncommon storms, I might have packed something more sensible for our brief layover. Thankfully, we did not get stranded there.

In Casablanca, we joined up with the rest of  the Somerville-Tiznit Sister Cities delegation and hopped on a plane to Agadir. After a sumptuous feast by the ocean, we boarded a bus bound for Tiznit. At around 2AM, after over 26 hours of traveling, we checked in to the Hotel Idou Tiznit where we stole a few hours of sleep before we launched into a four day marathon of magnificent activities. Our group meandered through an ancient medina, viewed artists’ studios, bounced to irresistible Berber beats, toured schools, explored cultural centers, and attended lavish meals with local dignitaries. Believe me, my jet lagged tootsies were tremendously grateful for the supple cushions in the soles of these mules.

Lounging in an artist's studio in Tiznit

Returning home to the throes of winter, my hand-stitched Soul of Africa slippers were replaced by my Sorel boots. Frankly though, I think they are praying for Punxsutawney Phil to spot his shadow on Tuesday so they can enjoy the quiet sanctuary of the shelf as long as possible.

To comply with recent legislation regarding blogging, you should know that my trip was sponsored by University of the Middle East Project, The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in concert with Sister Cities International, the City of Somerville, the City of Tiznit and the Moroccan American Cultural Center. Please realize that most of my experiences would not be typical for anyone else.


GoodShop & Give Back on Black Friday & Beyond

How would you like to pump up your Black Friday buying power and give back to nonprofits in need at no extra cost to you? Well, if you do click over to GoodShop before you hit over 900 online stores, you can take advantage of stash of coupons. It only takes a few extra seconds and up to 30% of your purchases will be donated to the nonprofit of your choice. (There are over 85,000 charitable organizations registered with the site.)

Trust me, I realize that this sounds suspiciously like a scam but my dance organization, Monkeyhouse,  has worked with this site for three years. Checks really do arrive each fall and somehow they are always slightly larger than we were expecting.  In fact, Monkeyhouse just received another Goodshop donation on Monday.  I am so encouraged by this passive revenue stream that I have personally offered to match all the money that Monkeyhouse earns through GoodShop in November and December.

GoodShop has teamed up with over 180 participating shoe stores, and they have got deals for you whether you are into stilettos, sneakers, or retro roller skates. For instance, if  you got inspired by Shoetube’s recent Tess Tuesday post,

you could cut $10 off a $100 purchase and send 6.5 – 8% to your favorite school, charity, or religious organization with GoodShop.

Or, if Wendy’s romp through nostalgia reminded you to revamp your running shoes, you could save 20% if you rush to GoodShop by 11/29/09. But don’t worry if you miss out on that deal’s deadline, there are several other coupons and they will always kick back 4-8.5%  of your total to a worthy nonprofit.

Even if you have got to get golf shoes after this week’s Quick Fix, you can support your favorite cause by swinging by GoodShop beforehand.

So hop on over to GoodShop and discover how easy it is to give this holiday season.


Burju’s 2 Way: The Full Throttle Walk and Roll Report

Ugg, sorry for the delay. Finally, here is the Full Throttle Walk and Roll Report on Burju’s 2 Way with a 3 inch heel that I promised you last Friday.

burju2Favorite things about them: 1. Mmmm…thank you Burju for designing a dance shoe with cushioning for the metatarsals. 2. Salsa is chock full of spins and these suede soles let me twirl effortlessly while adding just enough traction to keep me from slipping. 3. These kicks have got a hearty heel (You get to select from 6 different heights.) that helped stabilize my supporting leg during weight shifts. 4. 2 Ways are available in yellow and orange which happen to be Monkeyhouse’s favorite colors for costumes. (Does anyone sense an idea brewing for a new piece?)

Activities to avoid: 1. If you want these beauties to last, skip strolling down sidewalks and traipsing through puddles. Their supple underbelly can not withstand abrasive surfaces especially if they are soaking wet. 2. Steer clear of toe crunching partners as these strappy pumps offer no protection for your tender tootsies. MetaMovemenents‘ classes at Club Caribe encourage students to swap partners and some of the guys in our salsa verde circle made me wish that I had worn steel toes instead.

Warning: 1. The lovely leather insoles invited my feet to slide forward and spill out the front of the shoe. You might want to invest in a pair of adhesive half soles to keep you contained. 2. These patent leather pumps do not stretch much. Break them in at home before you hit the dance hall if you want to avoid blisters.

Overall impression: burju1My Burjus were a blast and boosted my confidence in class. If you are searching for an affordable alternative to a gym membership, latin dance will surely give your waist a workout while toning your thighs. Ballroom is a sport that even the Stiletto Warrior could embrace. Oh, and readers, this is a great way to get to meet some guys who can move. Keep in mind if you do meet a man who wants to glide you down the aisle, Burju’s Bridal Collection has got your back.


Bustin’ a Move in Strappy Yellow Burjus

Uff, my Burju ballroom adventure got off on the wrong foot. On Wednesday I got gussied up in my strappy yellow heels and headed over to Sagra in Davis Square for Salsa Boston’s drop in, beginning level Salsa class. After a silly parking snafu, I strolled down Highland Street baring my toes to the early autumn breezes only to find that the event had been cancelled. I grumbled to my chilled tootsies and I slunk back to my car.

My Yellow Burju Heels Wistfully Wishing to Go For a Spin

My Yellow Burju Heels Wistfully Wishing to Go For a Spin


Oh, I muttered and moaned when I returned home but, darling readers, your Fitness Footwear Guru refused to back out of her end of the Burju bargain. After all, Wendy promised you in her interview last week that I would have a review of this spicy new line of wedding and dance shoes. So I was delighted when my husband graciously agreed to go with me to MetaMovements’ lesson at Club Caribe the following night.

We were surprised and relieved by the laid back vibe as we entered the hotel lounge overlooking Memorial Drive. After a fleeting fit of shyness, we gathered on the parquet floor with the other beginners. In my head, I affectionately labeled our gaggle of gringos the salsa verde circle as we rotated through a variety of partners. Given my week, it seemed poetically appropriate when our instructor informed us that the Basic Step in Salsa for ladies involves going back-2-3 then front-6-7. Be sure to check back on Monday for another Full Throttle Walk and Roll Report on how my citrusy sandals (Hmm…that seem to be a theme this month.) fared once my loving tomatillo and I took a turn on the dance floor.


A Stiletto Tale with a Citrus Twist

Hmm… who knew that a  British bookmaker/choreographer, a Business Volunteer for the Arts (BVA) from the Arts and Business Council of Greater Boston , and some dried fruit skins would inspire an adventure that dovetails so well with with Wendy Toth’s recent post on pole dancing? Admit it… you are just a teensy bit curious to hear yet another tale from the ever widening intersection of shoes and art

The dance studio in Orvieto

Rosella Fuimi’s dance studio in Palazzo Caravajal-Simoncelli, Orvieto, Italy

Well, to explain I will have to return to when I snagged my fabulous Ferrari boots in Rome. Immediately afterwards, I headed off to a castle in Orvieto to study with Simone Forti. In between sessions of this workshop, I met Janine Harrington, an intriguing choreographer who hails from London. She and I bonded over many “meals” of nutella slathered on toast and have since kept in touch.

Recently, Janine’s creative impulses have prompted her to explore bookmaking. When she popped across the pond for a visit this summer, I thought she might fancy a trip to the Fuller Craft Museum . This hidden treasure in Boston’s southern suburbs is nestled into a picturesque nook overlooking a pond and is surrounded by an ever growing sculpture garden.  Susan Hammond introduced me to it when she became Monkeyhouse’s BVA a few years back. Without her, I might never have ventured down to enjoy their impeccable exhibits.


Marina Dempster's Ebullient, a found shoe festooned with beeswax, pine resin, glass seed beads, and feathers

Imagine my surprise when Janine and I found  The Perfect Fit exhibit at the Fuller Craft Museum. With over 120 objects created by artists in America, Canada, and Israel, it challenges and examines the childhood memories, politics, and fetishes associated with all sorts of  shoes.  While most of the fanciful footwear is non-functional, e.g. racks of ceramic stilettos sprouting vegatables, a curious chorus of bronzed baby booties, and a pair of wing tips with vampirish lips, I encourage you to hoof it down to this museum in Brockton, MA (formerly known as “The Shoe Capital of the World”) before January 3, 2010.

Jan Hopkin's stiletto sculpture, Tolerance, crafted out of dried fruit skins

Jan Hopkin's stiletto sculpture, Tolerance, crafted out of dried fruit skins

Even if you are not an avid fan of contemporary craft, Shoetube readers will revel in Wendy Tarlow Kaplan’s curatorial vision (don’t miss her gallery talk on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2009, at 1 p.m). For example, after her pole dancing lessons, Wendy Toth would really appreciate Jan Hopkins‘ platforms fashioned from grapefruit and cantaloupe peels. Proclaiming “Judge her when you’ve walked in her shoes”, this sculpture references a bitter controversy surrounding a divorced mom who turned to exotic dancing to support her family.

Ok, this tale has rambled on long enough, but you can read more about my adventure here.


Slipping Into My First Ferrari

You may remember that in a recent post, I alluded to something sublime…alley

Well, given the country’s shape, I should have known what I was getting into when I boarded the plane for Rome. Even though I had left my Italian to English dictionary lying on the bed in Boston, I managed to fulfill my desire in a rather fashionable alley. Of course, it never would have happened without a few insider’s tips from Sylvie, the owner of Maria-Rosa Guesthouse. Thanks to her expert advice, my embarrassing quest finally reached its climax.

Naturally, I was anxious as I awkwardly gesticulated to the distinguished man working the door. He nodded and smiled without uttering a word. He knew exactly what wooed me from the window. Yum. Now why didn’t this bit of eye candy have a cameo in Pirates of the Carribean? I was shocked as my foot slid in and then I sucked my breath in as my calf  followed. Talk about a lucky day!
bootsOh wait, you knew I was talking about boots, right? Mama Mia! Merciful Flying Spaghetti Monster, where is your mind?

Trust me, my excitement was warranted. After over a year of searching, there was only one pair of these handmade swashbuckling kicks by Laura Ferrari left and they laced up my legs perfectly. Did I mention that they were on sale for 60% off? And, I can assure you that getting lost on cobblestone streets has never been so comfortably chic.


Yoga Paws Full Throttle Walk and Roll Report

 As I promised yesterday, here is my Full Throttle Walk and Roll Report on Yoga-Syz’s recently revamped Yoga Paws, the Asana 1. After a month of straddling performances on both coasts, they have withstood everything from scalding hot outdoor stages to sleek indoor studios.

Yoga Paws in practice

Yoga Paws in practice

Favorite things about them: 1. Oh, these puppies are so much easier to transport than a mat when traipsing across the country for rehearsals (or vacation or business, I guess). After all, you will desire space in your suitcase if a close friend surprises you with a sumptuous knitted hat from Laku! (Thank you, thank you, thank you, Molly!). 2. Thanks to an orange terry lining that absorbs oils and perspiration, they give you a great grip on the ground even if your workout starts to get sweaty. 3. Their supple, eco-friendly exterior will not off gas odd odors or scuff light colored floors. 
Activities to avoid: 1. Twisting through your hands or feet. After only a few sharp pivets, I had significantly scarred their soft gray soles. 2. Using them on loose soil or sand. Irritating bits of sediment can get enmeshed between the layers and the paws require a flat, firm surface to stabilize your movements. 3.  Shaking hands with people at the end practice while wearing them. You might as well offer them your foot at that point.
Warning: 1. Yoga Paws run small. I used the sizing chart from their website but even after repeated uses, they still are too snug. 2. The foot thongs do not allow enough space for those of us with buxom toe joints or bunions. 

Overall impression:  If you suffer from teflon toes (like Caitlin Meehan, one of my favorite dancers in the Boston area), snag a pair of these sandals for support. They are an amazing asset for anyone who wants to get stuck. Keep in mind that they are made of all synthetic materials and will not stretch as much as leather workout wear. When they arrive, if you discover that you did not decipher the sizing chart correctly, do not hesitate to send them back for the next size up.

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June 2020