I had only been barefooting in public for 4 months before I decided to go to the GreenGala hosted at the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Charlotte. This would be the very first event where I would go solely barefoot with no backups. I only had a Plan A… to go barefoot.
The Ritz is a 5-star hotel decked out with crystals and marble floors. This was the perfect place to test out my new-found love for barefooting. I might as well go all-in at a high-profile public place. I was a little hesitant but knew that I wanted to (and could) pull it off.
At this point I was semi-confident about my bare feet in public but still got nervous at times so I went on the hunt for some bottomless shoes to help mask my feet. I found some cute black knit “covers” on Etsy. They just covered the top of my feet (shown in photo above). My husband thinks they are pointless but they do give me a confidence boost. It was clear I was still bare but they provided enough protection for me to feel comfortable walking through the front door at the Ritz. They also match my dress pretty well!
As soon as we walked through the doors, there was low lighting, kind of like a dance club. It was hard to see feet. A plus for me and my nerves. “I got this!”, I thought. That’s when we met the first employee. It was a nice young Asian gal dressed in all black. She greeted us and told us how to get to the event then walked with us to the elevator and told us which floor to go to. Because of the low lighting I don’t think she saw my bare feet. If she did notice, she didn’t say a word. No issues from her. Moving on…
As we entered the floor where the event was taking place, the lighting was completely different – bright and white. I was a little scared but tried not to bring attention to myself. After quickly walking around looking at the silent auction items and finding the banquet room, it was time to find some good red wine so we headed back downstairs to the lobby lounge. The wine included in the event was cheap and would probably give me a headache. We found a wonderful organic bottle of wine and made ourselves at home on the nice comfy furniture. I felt like I was in a movie set.
There was a gal at the bar who turned to me when I was ordering our wine and said, “can I ask you a question”. I thought for sure this is it, she was going to confront me about my bare feet and ask me why I don’t have shoes on. Instead she proceeded to ask me how I got my hair to stay in a bun. LOL! Granted she might have been a little tipsy but I was still thankful that she had asked that question instead of the other question. So I entertained her for a while talking about my hair and how easy it was to style it. I don’t even think she noticed I had bare feet. No one in the lounge noticed.
On a sidenote, these corporate events are NOT our thing. I was the elephant in the room that no one wanted to approach or confront. We went because we were nominated for a residential sustainable business award for our project Vireo and we were also interested in the other modern eco-friendly developments around the city.
After enjoying the super duper expensive bottle of wine (my birthday treat) we went back up to the event. We came in contact with a slew of other employees none of which saw my bare feet. Maybe they did see them but didn’t confront me or kick me out.
The attire for the event was very formal. The men wore suits and ties while the ladies wore ball gowns and little black dresses. Every single lady had some type of high heel on. All I could do was cringe at the site of their feet smashed into those unhealthy foot coffins. And there I stood in my bare feet wearing a $40 dress. Definitely the elephant in the room but tried to hold my own.
At one point I did notice an employee walking past me who had glanced at my feet. As she continued walking she kept staring at my feet but never stopped. I thought she was going to break her neck.
I sat at the table all throughout the event barefoot. I am not sure if anyone from other tables noticed my bare feet. The food was less than appetizing. Since we are Paleo (or close to it) there was nothing we could eat so I asked for a huge plate of lettuce with some lemon wedges. Usually you can’t go wrong with that. The lettuce was so nasty I almost spit it out. Long story short, I didn’t eat a thing. You would think the food would have been awesome, totally not the case.
The guest speaker was excellent! His name is Peter Byck, a film writer, director, producer of Carbon Nation. He has a unique optimistic view about climate change solutions. We really enjoyed hearing him speak. He is one passionate guy.
I wanted to share this adventure to give everyone hope. At some point the attitude will change towards being barefoot in public. I think sharing stories like this one is a small step in the right direction; showing “them” we exist and we are not a bunch of barbarians trying to make a big fuss. Instead, we are an intellectual group of people trying to stay connected to the source and do something we love. I learned if you hold your head high and act like you are suppose to be where you are, then most people won’t bother you. At the same time, you may inspire others to go bare.
I entered the Ritz with a certain confidence and exited with the same confidence. All-in-all it was a wonderful barefoot experience and I applaud the Ritz Carlton for not casting judgment and for allowing me to go barefoot. I am glad it was a positive experience otherwise it would have shattered my want to be a barefooter.
Since my experience at the Ritz-Carlton I have gone into several high-end restaurants with no issues, mostly in Asheville, NC where barefooting is more acceptable. I have learned to walk with confidence and to never look down at your feet.
Photo Credits: The Ritz-Carlton Charlotte