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Magazine » Social Dance » Socially Yours: Dance Shoes

Socially Yours: Dance Shoes

Jean Krupa
Date Published:
January 1, 2013

The majority of USA Dance members are social dancers. In an effort to create more content specific to our members Jean Krupa has agreed to write a regular column that is specifically directed to questions and topics posed by social dancers.

For today's topic I have chosen dance shoes. Beginner dancers may take a few lessons in their sneakers, sandals, boots, or high heels. They may notice advanced dancers wearing dance shoes and wonder "Where can I get shoes like those and does it really make a difference?" There are shoes for running, golfing, etc, so the answer is "Yes", dance shoes have a very specific design, they are much lighter and they form to your foot.

Dance shoes come in many different styles, patterns and colors, not to mention heel heights from 1.5"- 4". The trick is to find the shoe that works best for you. So what should you look for in a dance shoe? Good dance shoes are characterized by these three properties: traction, comfort and support. Good dance shoes fit comfortably and securely to your foot and slide and grip on smooth surfaces, good dance shoes are light as a feather; have built-in extra cushioning; and fantastic arch support.

Don't settle for dance shoes that are too tight fitting; crush your toes or your heel slides around when you move. Do not compromise on your comfort for any reason. Dancing in heels may seem uncomfortable at first especially if it's your first time in heels.

The sole of choice for most ballroom dancers is soft-suede. They offer the dancer the ability to alter the amount of traction they get with a few strokes of a shoe brush. However, they are not meant for the street; that will ruin your shoes.

Both men's and women's dance shoes are available in a wide selection of heights. The best advice is to choose a height that is comfortable for you. The advantage to having a higher heel is that your weight is distributed over the ball of your foot that allows you to spin and turn with greater comfort and ease, especially in the Latin dances. The higher heel stops you from lowering your heel to the floor that can cause you to fall out of a fast turn or make you feel stuck to the floor.

Heels on most ladies dance shoes are narrow. However, unlike street shoes, women find that these heels are stable and comfortable. For greater stability and comfort, choose a wider square heel.

While men have several styles and colors to choose from, a basic black oxford is the most common shoe. The most important thing is that your feet are comfortable...that's the most important rule! You will not enjoy dancing with ill-fitting shoes and sore feet! Men's dancing shoes should fit snugly with just enough room to wiggle your toes.

Men's latin shoes are also oxfords, but have a higher heel and are a bit more challenging to dance in.
Although black is the most common color in dance shoes, men do have some other choices, such as white, various shades of brown, and a few two-tone combinations.

Once you have invested in ballroom dancing shoes, you will want to take good care of them! These tips will help to extend the life of your shoes:
- Brush the (suede) soles after each use with a wire shoe brush.
- Never wear your dance shoes outdoors.
- Do not allow your dance shoes to get wet.
- Store your shoes in a shoe bag to prevent accidental damage.