Last Dance in the Red Shoes #13777

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The Story

A pair of old and worn red shoes sit on a rusty metal chair all alone after the last dance is done and the music has faded away. This is a picture of wistful loneliness and possibly even glaring aloneness. On the other hand, it could also be a picture of a tarnished yet happy memory. That’s the one I prefer.

This picture was taken inside a silk mill that stopped running in 1957. The factory simply closed one day. All the workers were turned away one morning coming to work, never to return. A large building of three floors, there were calendars hanging in a few places with their pages unturned, all dated 1957. One day, the lights went out and the key was turned in the lock. It was over.

Because of the abrupt closing, some personal artifacts were left behind like these red shoes. I found them inside a large closet-like room fill with small wooden bins on the wall holding paper tags and strings. Apparently, some of the workers had used the room to keep their coats and such judging from some hooks on the wall. And maybe a spare pair of shoes to change into if one’s feet got tired.

Using a pool of incoming window light, I set the old red shoes on a vintage metal chair also leftover from back in the day. The dusty wooden floorboards fading into the dark background seemed to appear as an empty dance hall floor might have been. The tripod was set low, the depth of field relatively short, and the focus tight on the red shoes.

These certainly aren’t dancing shoes, but then again, any shoes are dancing shoes when the mood strikes. This isn’t a dance hall, it’s a place of banging, clanging machines, and repeated workday drudgery pulled across all the days on those calendars. The only music made here was by an orchestra of machinery making cloth.

So, out of some factory workday leftovers from 1957, this picture is a made-up memory of dances past. Just a story, just an idea, and just a small tribute to happy memories. And perhaps instead of loneliness, a little joy has been brought out of a place where joy usually wasn’t around very much.

May your dance card always be full.

Another compelling abandoned factory view featuring old Wolf dress forms and thread is Confidentially Speaking #13951 where two of them are having an imaginary conversation.

Location: Lonaconing, Allegany County, Maryland. Picture and text © Andrew Dierks

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