Your First Pair of Dance Shoes : Dance Musings
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Your First Pair of Dance Shoes

by Jersey Dance Team on 10/11/12

A Guide to buying your first pair of dance shoes.

After your first few classes, you will want to invest in a pair of dance shoes. After all, you wouldn’t run, play tennis, play basketball or any other sport without having the proper footwear. Dance shoes can look very elegant and dressy but they do have a specific function. First, the sole of the shoe is covered in suede. This allows the shoe to move easily across the floor while still providing some traction. Additionally, depending on the type of shoe, they can be more flexible to allow full usage of your foot.

Men’s shoes come in two styles--ballroom and latin shoes. Ballroom shoes look more like a traditional men’s dress shoe. They come in leather or cloth and patent leather. For your first pair, I would not suggest patent leather. While they may look nice, they can stick to each other.  (To avoid the issue of them sticking together, vasaline can be used on the surface of the shoe on the inside edges). Shoes should fit well and not be too lose. Keep in mind that they will stretch a little bit. Latin shoes are a bit more flexible than a ballroom shoe and do have a small heel on them.

Women’s shoes also come in ballroom and latin styles. Ballroom shoes are closed toe and can come in a varying height and style of heel (up to 2.5 inches usually). Heel protectors should be bought and put on the shoe. These look like little soft plastic cups that fit snugly around the tip of the heel to protect the real heel of the shoe. These are sold based on the brand of shoe and style of the heel (slim, flare, etc.). This information is on the shoe box, or any sales person at a ballroom shoe store would be able to help you. The most common color ladies shoes come in is a flesh or tan color. These blend in with the floor and create an uninterupted leg line. Many other fun colors and designs are available as well. Ladies ballroom shoes may also have a strap across the top of the foot or may not. This is a personal preference, but clear bands can be bought and used to keep strapless shoes from slipping off. The fit should be snug, but not too tight. They will stretch some, but not too much.

Ladies latin shoes are open toed and what we would refer to as "strappy" shoes. These are more flexible than ballroom shoes and the heel can be as high as 3 inches. Again they mainly come in tan but many other colors and designs can be found. The same rules apply to heel protectors as I talked about with ballroom shoes. Latin shoes will stretch more than ballroom shoes, and the thinner the straps, the more they will stretch.

There is a third type of ballroom shoe for ladies and this is what you will see a lot of the female teachers wearing. They are called "teaching" or "coaching" shoes and look more like a man’s latin shoe than a ladies shoe. These are a much lower heel and are usually black. If you really do not want to buy a pair of heels or feel uncomfortable in them, this is a great alternative.

Many websites sell dance shoes but I would recommend buying your first pair in person. Your teacher can direct you to a local dance supply store that sells ballroom shoes. Do not be afraid to ask the salesperson for help. Many people are very excited to get their first pair of dance shoes and are amazed at how much easier they make dancing!

--Jen

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