Choosing Dance Shoes – for Gentlemen

by Can Aksoy on September 22, 2012

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Are Dance Shoes Different From Regular Shoes?

Notice how dancing in street shoes is painful and difficult? That is because regular shoes have heavy, inflexible, textured soles that make it difficult to move. Dance shoes have light, flexible, and smooth soles, allowing your feet to articulate and pivot. These shoes improve dancing and are an essential investment for dancers at any level. Here is a guide to choosing the right shoe for you.

Step 1: Choose a Shoe Type

There are two types of men’s ballroom dance shoes: Oxfords and Cuban Heels. Oxford Shoes are used in the ballroom dances because their low profile encourages heel extension while dancing. Cuban Heel shoes are used in the Latin dances because their higher heel encourages hip action and helps you to point your toe.

Try Oxfords for dances like:
Viennese Waltz

Gentlemans Standard Shoes

Try Cuban Heels for dances like:
Cha Cha
Jive/East Coast Swing
Paso Doble

Gentlemans Latin Shoes

Only buying one pair? Go with a pair of black Oxfords. Although designed for ballroom dancing, nothing about Oxfords will inhibit Latin dancing. Alternatively, the higher Cuban Heels will make dancing the ballroom dances more difficult.Dance Sneakers

Consider dance sneakers! Sneakers make long parties and rehearsals more comfortable. That said, because they are heavier and less formal than regular dance shoes, they are not a good choice for competition.

Step 2: Fitting Your Dance Shoe

A dance shoe must remain snug even after it has broken in; loose shoes cause falls and twisted ankles. Therefore, try to buy a tight-fitting shoe that does not force you to curl your toes while standing. Remember, it is okay that your dance shoes will most likely be one or two sizes smaller than your normal shoes.

Step 3: Features

Even after choosing the correct type and fit, dance shoes still come with options:

  • Split Sole: Split-sole shoes have only cloth under the arch of the foot. Select this if you are confident with your balance and want to expand your mobility and spinning.
  • Full Shank: Full-shank shoes feature a hard plastic “shank” under the arch of the foot for added support that also limits your shoe’s flexibility. Select this style if you are working on balance, posture, and transferring weight.
  • Half Shank: Half-shank shoes have some arch support and are suggested for dancers acquiring intermediate technique.
  • Padding: Check how much padding the shoe has around the ball of the foot. While comfortable, excessive padding sacrifices flexibility and your ability to feel the floor.

Step 4: Look

Buy shoes that match the majority of your clothing and a variety of dance costumes. Black leather, black suede, or shiny black patent-leather shoes are good choices.

Step 5: Accessories

Consider buying a few accessories for shoe care:

  • Shoe Bag – to transport your dusty and smelly shoes.
  • Shoe Brush – these wire brushes remove grime that cakes to the soles of your shoes.
  • Suede Cleaner – to help remove gunk from the soles of your shoes.
  • Leather Cream/Polish – to keep your leather shoes looking new.
  • Shoe Glue – to patch rips and tears.

Further Advice

  • Dance shoes with suede soles should be used indoors on smooth floors. Dancing outdoors on rough concrete will tear up the shoe’s sole and end its life prematurely.
  • These shoes are very expensive! If you are ever unsure about your selection, ask for help from store employees and other experienced dancers.
  • Dance shoes often cannot be returned after you have danced in them. Get second opinions on your selection before you wear your new shoes on the dance floor.

Shoe Vendors

Ballroom Shoes USA
Very Fine
Champion Dance Shoes

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