Ballroom Dance Shoes
What is a dance shoe and do I really need to buy them? is a question I have been asked by many students over the years, some new and some not. Guys never understand why their dance teacher is making them buy shoes. And women are thinking of how many pairs they could get from DSW for that price. I cannot be more adamant that dance shoes are necessary period. If you are just socially dancing, they will make your dancing easier and more fun. If you are just taking lessons, they will make them easier and your progress faster. If you are competitively dancing, that’s not even a question I would validate with a response. Think of dance shoes as a tool, when you need to hang a picture you get out a hammer. Why? Because its a lot easier and more effective to use a hammer than a tape measure. Now I’m not saying you can’t bang a nail into the wall with a tape measure. I am a girl, and have been known to try some shady DIY hacks. However, if you really want to get the job done, you use the proper tools. Dancing = Dance shoes, period. Ok, now that that’s out of the way lets talk about WHY…
What’s so special about a Dance Shoe anyway?
From the flexibility of the sole or the height of the heel to where the shoe offers your foot support. This shoe was designed for the job at hand, dancing. The heel is designed to place your weight over the appropriate part of the foot. The higher the heel the farther forward your weight will be placed. (Yes this applies to the guys as well!) When you’re dancing Rhythm and Latin styles, you need your weight over the balls of the feet. Try to switch your knees with your weight over the heels and you’ll see why. In the same idea, the striding required for Smooth and Standard dancing is much easier (and physically possible) with your weight in the heels. Which is why those styles of shoe come in a lower heel. The sole is made of flexible suede so that you can feel the floor, use it to ground yourself and create power. Also, handy so that you can point your toe and finish the line of your leg.
The fit of a dance shoe needs to be tight.
Yes, I actually want you to go a size down from your regular shoe on purpose. Everything you have been told about buying shoes you’re going to need to throw out the window for a sec. The materials that your dance shoes are constructed of will stretch as you wear them and you want them to fit your foot like a glove. A dance shoe needs to fit snug and tight, but not painful. When you first put on a brand new pair, they should hug your foot. Ladies open toe shoes, your toes should come right up to the edge of the sole. But WHY? Because the flexible suede sole will start to feel like a flipper on your foot once you start dancing. The general rule of thumb is ½ size down for any closed toe shoes and a full size down for open toed shoes. If your mom still buys your shoes with “some room to grow” you might need to go down more. I know you think it’s crazy, I know you think they won’t fit. Just go with it. I haven’t steered you wrong yet.
What color /material should I buy?
This is every woman’s favorite part. When do we ever have to buy a new pair of shoes? Well to day is your lucky day! Guys, not so much, so let me make this a little easier for you. Patent leather (the shiny shoes) are super fancy and handsome. I personally love a man in patent leather shoes. However, you will find they scuff easily and stick a bit as you brush your feet together. If it’s your very first pair, I suggest you buy plain leather and invest in the patent for your first showcase or competition. The leather will hold up great, they will stretch like a dream and they won’t draw as much attention to your novice footwork. For the ladies, I’m going to dash your dreams of shoe shopping and suggest the bronze or flesh colored satin. I know you want them in black, because black goes with everything. But black goes with everything except long legs! The reason everyone in the studio has those ugly brown shoes on is not because they have no fashion sense. It’s because they know it elongates the leg line and doesn’t draw unnecessary attention to their feet. That being said, if you absolutely have to have a color you can buy two pairs. Win Win!
How do I keep my Ballroom Dance Shoes like new?
Unless you have money coming out of your ears and you don’t mind replacing them every other month. You’re going to want to keep your shoes in good shape. For ladies I recommend heel guards. They’re little rubber caps that go on the tip of the heel. You can purchase them with your shoes to ensure you have the right fit. The heel guard is going to protect the plastic heel tip from wear and tear and when they wear down you can replace the guard for 6 bucks instead of the whole shoe! Genius! Second, store your shoes in the bag they came with and don’t wear them outside. I know at some point you’ll need to run to the car for something. Take them off, especially in the rain. Keep the suede bottom soft and flexible with a shoe brush. You will know it’s time to brush your shoes when you start to feel like Bambi on ice. The bottom will get slick from the suede matting down under the pressure of your feet. The shoe brush will fluff the fibers up again.