Most frequently asked question is what makes dance shoes different from street shoes.
All dance shoes, both ladies and men's have non-slip suede soles, a metal shank in the arch for support and they are very light-weight and flexible.
Ballroom Dance Shoes: Choosing the Right StyleMen's dance shoes are typically black lace-up Oxfords with a
flat heel for standard dances and a 1 to 2 inch heel for Latin dances.
For women, form is almost as important as function, and shoe styles are as
varied as dance categories -- including Latin, swing, cha cha, foxtrot and
waltz, to name a few.
Basic designs include open- or closed-toe pumps and sandals. Heels in women's
shoes are slim or flared and generally range in height from 1 to 3 inches.
Slim heels make turns and other moves easier. Flared heels are preferred for
the Latin dances because they provide more stability.
A Word on Women's Shoes
Women new to the world of ballroom dance may consider
purchasing one pair of shoes that will work for a number dances -- typically a
closed-toe pump with a 2 to 2.5 inch flared heel and an ankle strap. These are
referred to as standard, court or modern dance shoes.
Latin dancers typically wear open-toed shoes or strappy sandals with a 3 inch
flared heel. As you become more proficient, you can add more styles to your
Expect to spend about $100 for a good pair of ballroom shoes.
Ballroom dance shoes come in a variety of colors. Black is the most popular.
Many women choose flesh-colored shoes, which help extend the leg line, for
Ballroom Dance Shoe Construction
Non-slip soles are essential. Look for suede soles, which
provide the right combination of grip and slide.
Rubber sneaker-like soles can stick to the floor and cause knee injuries, and
leather soles can slide too much. Dance shoes have thinner soles than normal
shoes. Most dancing shoes have a steel shank for support. The shoe material is
flexible and lightweight.
For Ballroom Dancing, A Good Fit is Essential
Choose a snug, but not toe-crushing, fit. Try on several
styles before purchasing. Shoes should be both comfortable and functional.
Buy in person the first time. An experienced salesperson can help you find the
proper fit and style. Large cities, such as New York, have specialty shops. Ask
your dance instructor or experienced dancers at your club where to buy locally.
Once you've found shoes you like and know what size you need, you can also
purchase them online.
Maintenance and Repair
Don't wear your ballroom dance shoes on the street. Rough
surfaces and dirt will wear them out quickly. Carry them in a bag and put them
on when you get to class or to the ballroom.
If you need your shoes repaired, call before you drop them off at your local
shoemaker to be sure the shop is familiar with handling dance shoes.
Buying Latin or Standard
Generally, dancers use open toe shoes for Latin and closed toe pumps for Standard.
Waltz, Tango, Viennese Waltz, Foxtrot, Quickstep are defined as Standard dances.
Samba, Cha-Cha-Cha, Rumba, Paso Doble, Jive, Salsa are defined as Latin Dance. In Latin dancing, partners perform tightly choreographed
routines in which they must project energy and passion. The pair's appearance, including
costuming and shoes, is important to the success of the routine.
Women's Latin Dance Shoes: Style and Fit
For Latin ballroom dancing, women wear either pumps or
sandals with a 2- or 3-inch heel. You may want to choose a lower height if you
are not used to dancing in heels.
Pumps are open along the sides of the feet, have a closed toe box and are
secured with an ankle strap. Sandals are strappy and open-toed.
Most often made of leather, women's Latin dance shoes are lightweight, flexible
and have suede soles, which provide the right blend of grip and slide while
moving across the floor.
It's best to purchase your first pair of Latin dance shoes in person, not
online or from a catalog. When you shop, try several styles and brands. Look
for a fit that is snug and hugs your foot, but is not too tight. Shoes that are
too tight can cause blisters; those that are too loose can make you trip.
For Latin sandals, the woman's toe should be as close as possible to the front
of the shoe. Some women prefer to have their toes extend or hang over the edge
of the shoe so that they can point their toes more easily and feel the floor.
Whichever style you choose should offer good control and look sexy. Prices
range from $85 to $150.
Men's Latin Dance Shoes: Style and Fit
Men's Latin dance shoes are typically lightweight, flexible
oxfords with a 1.5 inch "Cuban" heel and suede soles. Styles include
white, black, two-tone spectator shoes and other color combinations.
The shoes can be made of leather, nubuck or patent leather. The fit should be
snug, but not too tight. Most men only purchase Latin shoes for competition
purposes, and you'll seldom see men wearing Cuban heels when out for social
Prices range from $100 to $150.
Caring for Your Latin Dance Shoes
It's important to polish your shoes on a regular basis in order to keep them in top condition. You might also consider applying silicon-based oil occasionally in order to prevent cracking. Proper care of the suede soles is important, too. Be sure to brush them regularly to remove any dirt or wax buildup, which will cause the soles to wear faster. Lastly, don't wear your shoes when not dancing. Sidewalks will ruin the soles.