Picture this: you have just started dancing and are starting to feel how everything moves and grooves of each dance you are working on. Then, at the end of your lesson, your dance instructor asks, “so when are you going to get some dance shoes?” Why would you need those? You dance perfectly fine in your regular shoes…why should you spend money to get another shoe just for dancing? Well, would you go to the golf course without golf clubs? Or would you play tennis without a racket? Just like investing in the right equipment for any sport, buying dance shoes is ESSENTIAL for your growth as a dancer.
First, let’s talk about what makes a dance shoe different from other shoes in your closet. The main thing that separates a dance shoe from a regular shoe is the sole on the bottom made of suede. This allows you to move, turn, and overall feel the floor a lot better and maintain control throughout the dance. Also, the sole is much more flexible than the average shoe which allows you to point your toe and move your foot more freely. Another difference is the heel itself. it’s good to have a little heel on your shoe depending on your comfort level. The heel brings your weight naturally to the front part of the foot allowing you to align your muscles properly for good posture and positioning, while also bringing your balance more toward your partner.
Next, let’s talk about the different styles of dance shoes there are. If you are just starting off in your dancing and are looking to just dance socially…then a simple practice shoe will be good enough for you. Find yourself a shoe that is comfortable and works with both smooth and rhythm styles. However, if you are looking for shoes that are good for competition, then you will want something a little different:
- Latin/Rhythm style: For the ladies, you are going to want a sandal style shoe (open toe and straps). The typical Latin/Rhythm shoe has a higher heel which is up to 3 inches, depending on your comfort. With the sandal style and the higher heel, you are able to maintain your balance and weight to the front of your foot while allowing your toes to flex the way they need to in order to execute quick, sharp moves. For gentlemen, the heel will also be a little higher to provide the same as the lady’s heel; weight more forward to the ball of the foot to provide more stability and control through the quick, actions.
- Smooth/Standard style: This shoe typically has a lower heel than the Latin/Rhythm shoe. This allows to execute proper technique with heel leads and keeping yourself grounded and compressed. For the lady, a closed-toe is standard for this style of ballroom dancing.
Lastly, let’s talk about cost and value. Yes, dance shoes can be a bit more expensive than the average shoe you buy. HOWEVER, when you invest in the proper shoe for your dancing, they are not only going to kickstart and improve your dancing tremendously, they will also last you a long time. So, no matter what dance journey you are on, make sure set yourself up for success in achieving your goals and dancing the absolute best you can!