If you’re just getting into ballroom dancing, you may be wondering “Why can’t I dance in street shoes?” As with all sports, you need the proper equipment to be able to perform to your maximum potential as well as to avoid injury. A proper dance shoe will allow you to move smoothly and also prevent injury to your knees and joints. There’s also a difference between Latin dance shoes and Ballroom dance shoes. Here we’ll discuss how to choose the right Ballroom shoe. For details on how to choose the right Latin shoe, click HERE.
OPEN TOE V. CLOSED TOE
If you are new to the world of ballroom dance, you may be wondering “What’s the difference?” when it comes to Latin and Ballroom dance shoes. The difference is not so much in the feel of the shoe as it is in the style. If you want a Salsa shoe – or a shoe for any Rhythm/Latin dance – open-toed is the style to focus on. Closed-toed shoes are for the Smooth/Ballroom dances such as Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, etc. (click on the image to go to the product page)
Unlike street shoes where it doesn’t matter if they’re a little loose, dance shoes need to fit like a glove. This is as much for safety as it is for ease of movement – how easy is it to spin if your shoe is slipping off your heel? Feel a wobble in the ankle because the shoe isn’t snug enough? Dangerous. You will know a dance shoe fits you right when it moves with your foot. It should feel snug, not painful.
Also of note: ballroom shoes do not always come with a strap. Regardless of whether or not the shoe comes with a strap, it should not feel like it will slip off your foot. You should be able to move freely and comfortably. If, however, you want a strap some models come with one. For those that do not, you can customize your shoes to include the matching strap. Another option that many dancers use is a clear plastic strap that slips over the shoe (click on the image to go to the product page).
Heel height can vary from 0.5” to 3”. In Ballroom dancing, ladies usually tend to prefer a heel of 2.5” while gentlemen opt for 1” (thus lower than their Latin counterparts). Working in tandem with the balance of the shoe, the heel ensures that when standing in a Ballroom shoe your weight is over the balls of the feet – which is all part of the ballroom dancing technique.
That being said, if you’re new to dancing, choose a lower, wider heel – there is a world of difference between walking in a 2.5” heel and dancing in one. Once you’re comfortable in, say, 1” you can increase the height if you wish. After all, dancing in heels is a superpower.
As with Latin shoes, the style of your Ballroom shoe will depend on what you want it for. For competitions, a neutral skin-tone is the norm though some competitors choose to match the shoes to the gown. If you are just dancing socially, choose any colour you want and away you go!
For ladies competing in International Ballroom, dance shoes will be closed on the side, with or without strap. For ladies competing in American Style Smooth, there is more flexibility. Smooth dance shoes can be open-sided with a cross-strap. As previously stated, clear plastic straps are also an option if none is built into the shoe.
Another important and unique feature of ballroom shoes is the suede sole. The suede sole provides just the right amount of slip-and-grip to allow you to use the floor for every pivot and flare and underarm turn while maintaining stability.
Dance shoes are made for dance and thus offer the support needed for your arches, ankles, knees, legs. At iLoveDanceShoes we know how important it is to have a quality shoe that allows you to dance with confidence – so let us help you to make the right choice.
We’ll see you on the floor.