I've been dancing for a little while, and I'm ready to buy a good pair of dance shoes - how do I choose?
The first 'specialized' item most people purchase for Ballroom Dancing, is a pair of dance shoes. As any competing amateur or professional can attest, a good pair of shoes can make all the difference in the world. Since getting the right pair is important, and there are lots of shoes to choose from, it's worth the time to do a little bit of research before making a purchase.
The first question you need to answer is "what kind of dancing will you be doing in these shoes?".
If you're only going to be doing Standard Ballroom Dances(click here for a list of Standard Dances), you're looking for a Court Shoe. A Court Shoe looks like a standard pump, with a closed toe and a closed heel. There aren't many variations in Court Shoes, but you will have choices about:
- whether or not you'd like a strap across the foot
- heel style & height (more on heels here)
If you'll only be doing Latin Dances (click here for a list), you'll want an open-toe sandal. There's far more variation here, so be prepared to look through more options. Main variations are:
- a solid band across the front of the foot vs. a strappy look
- the kind of strap: straight ankle, t-bar, cross-foot, or convertible
- the colour
- the fabric: satin, leather, suede, and co-ag are the most common
- the heel style & height (more on heels here)
If you're looking for a shoe to do "double-duty", opt for a "social dancing" shoe. You won't find many on competition dance floors, but they're perfectly acceptable for an evening out, and save you from having to switch shoes between dances. These are a 'hybrid' between a court shoe and a latin sandal.
Practice shoes are most often used by teachers, and other dancers who will be dancing for many hours in a row. What they lack in style, they make up for in comfort. They usually feature a lower heel, are laced, and are made of breathable fabric (either perforated leather or mesh).
Like Women's Shoes, Men's Shoes vary primarily by use, although to the utrained eye the differences are trickier to spot. Unlike Women's Shoes, there isn't as much variation, so we hope you like black!
Men's Ballroom Shoes look very similar to Men's Dress shoes. Usually an Oxford or Gibson style, most shoes are black, with a one inch heel. There is some variation as to material - the most common choices are leather or patent leather, but you may find some suede, nubuck, or pattered leather (crocodile, or grained).
Men's Latin Shoes usually have a higher heel (1.5" compared to 1") and have a more distinct "dance shoe" look to them. As with Ballroom Shoes, you have a colour choice of black or black.
For both Ballroom and Latin shoes you will find some with a split sole - this allows for greater flexibility (especially when pointing your toes) but at the loss of arch support.
Social Daincing shoes aren't as popular for Men as they are for Women, but serve the same purpose - being able to dance Ballroom or Latin dances without having to switch shoes. While still primarily black, they sometimes have "fun" patterns - crocodile, stripes, or weaves.
Men's Practice Shoes, like Women's, often feature "breathable" fabric - usually perforated leather, but are otherwise very similar in appearance.