If you’re anything like me, shoe shopping is a nightmare. Between my feet being different sizes to there being a little bony part on my foot, the process of finding the perfect pair of shoes is less-than-perfect. And even if I find something that’s comfy now, how do I know it’ll be comfortable after a few hours? Picking out dance shoes is even more complicated, so here are my tips on how to choose dance shoes.
But first: what makes dance shoes so special? Dance shoes are athletic shoes made with a specific purpose in mind. Just like there are cleats for soccer (with little spikes that help grip the ground) and running shoes for a marathon (that help absorb shock and push off the ground), dance shoes are made to help your body through the natural motions of dance. Want more info? Here’s a bit more about ballroom dance shoes.
So, without further ado, here are my tips for choosing dance shoes!
Snug as a [bug in a rug] dancer in shoes.
The first thing you have to keep in mind is the fit. Your shoe has to provide support and not fly off your foot -- so it can’t be too big -- but it also most definitely shouldn’t cut off your circulation (so not too tight either). A good metric is, “does my shoe feel like a glove for my foot?”
Something to keep in mind is that many shoe materials stretch as you wear them. (Just like sweaters. If you know, you know!) If you end up buying shoes that are too loose, they’ll become even looser as you dance, at which point they’ll likely give more harm than good (think twisted ankles. Ow!).
Purpose of the shoes.
You’re looking for dance shoes. But for what? Practice shoes, competition shoes, and social/specialty shoes all look different and are made with different purposes in mind.
Practice shoes are meant to be worn for long periods of time while you’re honing your skills. If you’re looking for shoes that’ll be more comfortable for extended wear, these are your choice! Find a wide selection of female training shoes here and male training shoes here and here. Note: most of these shoes can be worn by all genders -- the most important thing is to find the right fit.
Competition shoes are more streamlined than practice shoes. For females, they’re meant to be seen as an extension of your actual foot, and therefore are usually nude in color. For males and some leads, they’re more polished than practice shoes. You can find female competition shoes here (latin) and here (standard) and male competition shoes here (latin) and here (standard).
Social and specialty shoes can be a mix of practice and competition shoes… or a wild being of their own! One example of specialty shoes are these tango shoes, which are perfect for a showcase or tango night club. Social shoes can also be a different color than the usual nude, such as these black shoes that’ll match any outfit!
Style of dance.
Believe it or not, each ballroom dance style actually requires different shoe types. Why’s that? In latin dances, you’re often expected to stay on the balls of your feet and use your toes; shoes help with that by having higher heels. On the other hand, standard dances often use the heels to push off or along, and so are on a lower heel. These differences are visible in both female and male shoes.
Quality, quality, quality!
Your foot health reflects your overall health. After all, you use your feet in just about every activity in your life. For this reason, having high-quality shoes is important, and it’s even more crucial for athletic activities during which your feet impact the ground. Supporting your feet, ankles, knees, and hips will pay off for years into the future.
Let’s not forget: better shoes will last longer! Even though they can be more expensive, quality shoes will literally pay for themselves in the long run.
Pro strat: match the ‘fit.
Yes, you can get your shoes customized! If you’re doing a special showcase or competition, you may want your shoes to match your (or your partner’s) outfit. To discuss options, reach out to email@example.com.
If you have any questions on how to choose dance shoes, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. The shoe-xperts at Dress for Dance will be able to help you out!
Do you have any special shoe-choosing tips? Comment below with your own tips on how to choose dance shoes!