When I was just a little girl, my favorite bedtime story was "Grimm's Fairy Tale's, The Twelve Dancing Princesses." The king's daughters, you see, would secretly slip out every night and dance holes through their slippers. Apparently they didn't have stilettos in the Grimms' day.

Pity those princesses today, all dolled up and wearing high heels. Lucky for our modern royalty, vending machines with soft soled shoes are popping up in hot party spots. For around $8, you can get pretty little ballet flats for the trek home. Better yet, they roll up and can be tucked into a small bag for next time.

Sure, ladies can opt to wear more comfortable shoes in the first place, but that advice will fall on deaf ears. I spent the better part of the '80s out dancing, coming home at dawn, with shoes in hand. Nothing could have parted me from my high heels (I was particularly attached to a pair of pink pumps, thanks Madonna!), but these little shoes might have been welcome. Certainly they are just as useful as some other "protective" items available in club vending machines today.

There are two companies vying for this market, Rollasole and Afterheels. Right now, both are available only in Europe, but with celebrity gossip hound Perez Hilton promoting the shoes and Rollasole reportedly about to launch in New York and Los Angeles, it's only a matter of time before that other Hilton is wearing them too.

Makes that walk of shame a little less painful. Coming soon to nightclub near you.

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