'I love my new shoes -- and I didn't have to venture out into the cold to buy them!'
When Ilona Jurenova moved to Ireland from the Czech Republic, the last thing she expected to find was a thriving Latin dance scene.
Yet it was here that she was literally swept off her feet by El Ritmo Latino in the many dance clubs that pulsate across Dublin.
She dances salsa, tango and a new Caribbean-inspired style called zouk at least three times a week -- and often more.
But all of this "tripping the light fantastic" takes its toll on a girl's shoes -- and the footwear in question is not easily replaceable.
Dance shoes must, of course, be glamorous, like the red ones she sports in our photo. But this must be combined with comfort and durability. There are good dancewear shops locally but for real choice and bargains, she recommends online shopping.
"I just got three pairs of Latin dance shoes and I'm so happy with them," she says.
Ilona works in online marketing for a major multinational so she's quite comfortable buying stuff on the internet. She wouldn't normally buy from an Asian vendor because of potential problems with warrantee claims etc, but for dance shoes she makes an exception.
"They are such good value that even if they are the wrong size, someone else (on the dance scene) will buy them off you," she says.
Ilona's experience with online shopping is highly positive but you have to be careful, she says.
"If you went on a street and saw someone selling stuff ridiculously cheaply you would be suspicious."
Likewise, you should steer clear of websites that "look like they were built overnight and don't have any signs of security."
Ilona bought her shoes on eBay which she describes as being like a 'giant flea market' .
"With eBay it's about you and the guy you are buying from, who could be anybody," she says.
If in doubt about an e-tailer, you can always check online for any negative references in chatrooms such as boards.ie, Ilona advises.
Whatever about the risks of online shopping, it will spare you venturing out on to even riskier icy paths this arctic winter.
Ilona got all her Christmas shopping done online in "a couple of afternoons" browsing on her laptop while snugly ensconced in her warm apartment!