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Why should I buy ballroom dance shoes?

Q. What's the difference between regular shoes and Ballroom Dancing shoes?

A. Like regular shoes, ballroom dance shoes come in a wide variety of variety of styles, sizes and colors. There are a few qualities, however, that are unique to dance shoes, and which make them ideal for getting around the dance floor. Some of these differences include the shoe's sole, materials, fit and style.

-Sole: The single biggest difference between ballroom dance shoes and normal shoes is that dance shoes have suede soles. Obviously Ballroom and Latin shoes are made to be worn indoors, usually on a wood floor; therefore they don't need the durability of a leather or rubber sole. The advantage of suede is that it is smooth enough to slide easily on the dance floor, but tacky enough not to be slippery. Also, suede soles are malleable, so you can actually feel the floor under your feet. As you get better with your dance steps, your connection with the floor becomes more and more important, and a suede sole gives you the connection you need to make the dance floor your friend.

-Materials: Dance shoes are made of various materials: leather, satin and patent are the most common.

-The leather used in ballroom dancing shoes is usually very soft so leather shoes are stretchy, comfortable and light. They will also last a long time, but will need some polishing and maintenance to keep them looking sharp.

-Satin shoes do not have the some stretch as leather and they tend to wear out faster. However, Satin is the most popular material for women's dance shoes because it is easily dyed. Most competitive women dancers prefer to dye their shoes a nude color that closely matches their skin, so that their leg lines are not interrupted by the shoe.

-Men's Patent shoes look very sharp for ballroom and are the appropriate shoe to wear with a tail-suit. Patent shoes do tend to crack or rip as they age however. Also, you will need a lubricant to keep the shoes slipping past each other and not squeaking or sticking when they touch. Patent shoes will stretch over time, but not as much as leather. They also stretch more as they warm up, and shrink again as they cool.

- Fit: In general, ballroom dance shoes should fit tighter than regular shoes, especially when they're new. Dance shoes are made of very soft materials so over time they will stretch and mould to your foot. When you buy them, therefore, they should definitely be snug on your foot and not fall off or have the regular 1.5 cm space in the front like regular shoes. Basically dance shoes should "Fit like a glove".

-Style: Ballroom and Latin dancing is exciting, flashy and fun, and the shoes (especially women's shoes) tend to reflect that. You will often find that women's shoes are patterned with rhinestones to give them a little bit of extra dazzle. Glitter and bright colors can also be used to brighten up some shoes, although as we have already said, women's shoes are most often colored nude to give the impression of a longer leg line. Men's ballroom dance shoes are almost always plain and black, but it wouldn't be unheard of to see a man wearing bright red or blue shoes in a Latin competition - especially if he was wearing bright red or blue pants!

Before you head to the store to buy your shoes (or your red pants) make sure your read our next article on how to buy ballroom dance shoes.

Happy Dancing,


Dancing For Dessert offers online dance instructions for all ballroom dance styles. Learn dance steps for salsa, swing, foxtrot, waltz, tango, rumba, cha cha, and wedding dances. Our online dance lessons will have you dancing with confidence and ease.

Why should I buy ballroom dance shoes?
posted by Dancing For Dessert on 1/05/2006 10:57:00 AM

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