Esperanza does not want to dance because she is embarrassed about her shoes. Her Mama had gone out and bought her new clothes - "socks and a new slip with a little rose on it and a pink-and-white striped dress" - for her to wear to her cousin's baptism, but she forgot to buy new shoes to go with them. Since Mama "has bought everything except the shoes", Esperanza must attend the celebration wearing "the old saddle shoes (she) wear(s) to school, brown and white, the kind (she) get(s) every September because they last long". She feels stupid with her "feet scuffed and round, and the heels all crooked that look dumb with (her new) dress", so she "just sits". When her cousin comes by and asks her to dance, she refuses, feeling her feet "growing bigger and bigger".
Then Esperanza's Uncle Nacho comes and pulls her onto the dance floor, telling her "you are the prettiest girl here". She doesn't believe him at first, but has no choice but to drag her feet, which in her mind "swell big and heavy like plungers" across the linoleum dance floor where Uncle "wants to show off the new dance (they) learned". As Uncle spins Esperanza, everyone watches and claps, and Esperanza is aware that her Mama is proud, and that her cousin, "the boy who is a man", was watching too ("Chanclas").