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About Dance Shoes

Okay, so you’ve taken a few classes and are starting to get more serious.

After all, when you hike you wear hiking boots. When you play tennis you wear tennis shoes. When you go to the beach you wear thongs, right?

So it’s about time to look investing in some dance shoes! Dance shoes, with its special construction and materials, help you learn better and dance longer. Here are 7 tips to help make the right choice.

1. MAKE SURE IT FITS LIKE A GLOVE

Make sure they fit snugly (without excessive pressure). As the shoe gets “broken in” it will stretch a bit, and you don’t need a “floppy” fit. Leather shoes stretch most, patent leather hardly stretches.

2. OPEN TOE VS. CLOSED TOE

For Her:

Generally, “strappy sandles” are for Latin styles as Salsa, Rumba and swing, which require more pointing of the toes and articulation of the feet. The opening in the shoes allows you to point your toes easier and execute footwork more precisely.

Closed toe shoes standard dances, such as Foxtrot and Waltz, as your feet are MUCH closer to your partner’s feet in these dances, so safety and comfort is important Unless you are focusing on a particular dance style, beginning dancers can pretty much choose any style you’d like. Though, when you first learn to dance, it’s almost inevitable to get stepped on once in a while, so you may consider getting closed toe shoes as they provide some protection for those toes.

For Him:

Only come in closed toe (thank goodness!), so you only have to choose plain, fancy or LOUD styles.

3. HEEL HEIGHTS

The heel height for Latin and ballroom dance shoes ranges from about 3cm to 7cm (!!!). For beginning dancers, you should choose a heel height that gives you the most comfort, and still leaves enough “lift” that you can rise on the ball of your foot. A quick test is can you walk forward and step “heel-toe” but NOT have to bend your knees? If so the height is good. Have to bend the knee? Try a lower heel.

If you are not accustomed to wearing heels, you may want to start with shoes that have a lower heel to start with. Also, there are different shapes of heel, such as slim and flared – a flared heel tends to offer more stability.

Believe it or not, men’s dance shoes have various heel heights too!

Most men’s dance shoes have a 1.5cm heel (just like an ordinary street shoe) and although designed for ballroom dance styles, will work for ALL dances. A strictly “latin” dance shoe will have a 3 cm  Cuban heel. Unless you’re competing in dance competitions, a 1.5cm heel will work for everything.

4. LEATHER SOLES

Suede soled shoes are perfect for dancing.

It is recommended to have a suede sole for your dance shoes. The suede sole gives you the right amount of slip and traction so that you can feel more balanced and have more control when turning and moving around the dance floor. Every once in a while, you need to brush the suede sole with a wire dance shoe brush to maintain its roughness.

5. BUYING DANCE SHOES ONLINE VS. IN STORE

Whether you order shoes online or purchase them in a store, since sizing can vary from brand to brand, variations in size is generally the issue.

We’ve found dealing with VIVAZ Dance  has a unique way of dealing with this problem. They have a “bricks & mortar” store AND an extensive online shop. So you could call in the first time, get “sized”, and from then on deal on line. To overcome any variations that might affect the shoes’ size, VIVAZ has a 100 day return policy. This works really well.

PS. Want 10% discount – just tell them you’re from The Latin Ballroom, or use the code “TLB10” online, and you’ll receive a 10% discount on most items.

6. MAINTENANCE

Moisture is the no. 1 thing that kills a shoe. After dancing, I usually use shoe trees to absorb moisture and keep the shape of the dance shoes. Cedar shoe trees are particularly great for fighting odor! Unfortunately, dance shoes are not made to last for a long time due to their delicate materials and the way dancers use the shoes. To extend the life of a pair of dance shoes, I recommend having 2 or more pairs of shoes (depending on how frequently you dance) to rotate between dance sessions. This allows each pair enough time to dry out before the next use. Also, never wear your dance shoes outdoors as the suede leather is very delicate and can be damaged easily by any harsh objects and water!

7. COST

The cost of Latin and ballroom dance shoes range from $80 to $300 a pair depending on the brand and quality. For about $170, you can get a great quality pair of shoes. It is definitely worth spending a little more money since a good pair of dance shoes can last longer and give you more comfort and support when learning to dance.

I hope this is helpful to anyone who is buying their first pair of ballroom dance shoes! Please leave me a comment if you have any questions about choosing dance shoes. I’d love to help!

Happy dancing!

The Latin Ballroom
First Floor, 216 Church St.
Parramatta, 2150 NSW
T: 0427 52 84 66
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