Hello people of Ballroom! Whether you are brand new to dancing or are looking to take your art to the next level, the most important thing you can do is buy good shoes. And I am here today to highlight some option and features for the uninitiated.
Note: This post is going to focus on Ballroom and Latin shoes. If you are also interested in shoes for Lindy Hop/West Coast Swing, check out this post by the indomitable Maria Ford.
Men’s Standard shoes look like those pictured above. They can be either patent leather or burnished leather, they have a 1/2 to 1 inch heel, and are suede on the bottom. You can buy them here.
Ladies’ Standard shoes can look like these, but they come in several other colors, most often “Flesh” which is completely unrealistic and a little bit racist to boot. I prefer the silver. In either color, these shoes keep your weight in the middle of your foot to aid in stepping backwards and heel spins. Find them here.
Theses are men’s Latin shoes. Usually plain black leather, they have a 1.5 or higher inch heel to aid in hip movements, by pushing the dancer’s weight towards the toes. Find them here.
Ladies’ Latin shoes can look like those pictured here, though this category has the widest range of styles and colors. The strange dark tan color seen above is the most common in the beginning competitive circuit, but all manner of blacks, colors and sparkles are available. These shoes, like the men’s, push the dancer’s weight more toward the toes to help hip motion and fast footwork.Find them here.
I’m a new dancer, and I barely know the difference between Standard and Latin. Which shoes should I get?
If you are a guy, the answer is simple–get Standard shoes. They are more ‘general purpose’ than men’s Latin shoes and will work reasonably well for both styles.
If you are a lady, it’s a bit trickier. In the past, I’ve told newcomers to get Latin shoes for their first pair, as they allow you to do Latin well and Standard passably, whereas Standard shoes allow you to do Standard well and Latin poorly. But recently I’ve (begrudgingly) admitted that ‘smooth’ shoes often bridge that gap and may be a decent option for beginners. Here is an example:
Buying online is scary! Where can I try shoes on?
If you live in Syracuse, there are three options for in-person shoe-buying. K&K Dance and Turning Pointe are primarily ballet/tap/jazz supply stores, but do have limited supplies of certain ballroom shoes. iDance, in Fayetteville behind the Fred Astaire Dance Studio, is the area’s first ballroom shop, and they have a much larger selection. iDance is, however, more expensive than online stores.
NOTE: All links take you to Discount Dance products, as they are my go-to outlet for good prices and quick shipping. This post is, however, not sponsored by DD.