Ballroom Dance > shoes for beginners (sorry for another shoe thread...)

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by Anna, Oct 7, 2006.

  1. Anna

    Anna New Member

    I hate to bring up another thread about shoes, but:

    We're going on a shopping trip to NYC with some of the team beginners who already want shoes, and I think most of them will be buying only one pair. I had basically no guidance with my first pair of shoes, so I don't really know what to recommend...

    Guys are definitely better off getting just standard shoes, right? But for ladies it's not so clear. Between standard and latin shoes, I guess latin shoes work better for both? Do any brands of latin shoes work better for standard than others? Or would it be best to get smooth shoes (with closed toe and open sides) to start with for both standard and latin? (This is for competitions, and most of them seem like they'll be sticking around on the team for a while.)

    Oh, and if there was already a thread about this, please let me know!
  2. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    my hunch would be smooth shoes
  3. Anna

    Anna New Member

    I know almost nothing about smooth shoes, are they supposed to fit about the same way as standard?

    Also (mostly for people who've hung around college teams), is there any reason why most beginners get latin instead of smooth shoes?
  4. danceislove

    danceislove New Member

    if you can only afford one pair of shoes and you will use them for both smooth/standard and rhythm/latin then you need to get open toed shoes (aka latin shoes). I suggest getting a flesh toned satin so that when you wear them for smooth they will not be very noticable. You cannot wear smooth shoes for latin, it just isn't done. my other advice is that you definitely get what you pay for when it comes to dance shoes, so spend as much as you can afford.
    good luck :D
  5. tanya_the_dancer

    tanya_the_dancer Well-Known Member

    My guess would be that most beginners choose shoes the way they would choose dressy shoes. So those who like open sandals, will chose latin shoes (and I think such people are in majority). I am not a big fan of sandals, so the very first pair I chose was a smooth black pair with 1 3/4 heel.
  6. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Perhaps. On the other hand, you can't wear latin shoes for smooth... the heel just won't work (and the open toes are kind of risky too given the desired foot articulation)

    Also remember to watch out for the "flared heel" shoes which, despite looking like pumps have latin heel placement, and thus aren't practical for smooth, while presumably still being too inflexible for latin.
  7. Anna

    Anna New Member

    Is there any reason smooth shoes can't be worn for latin? I suppose it would look a bit silly, but is it really worse than doing standard in latin shoes? Or do people usually end up buying a second pair by the time they learn enough technique that doing standard in latin shoes would be painful?
  8. Anna

    Anna New Member

    For me, when I try to do standard in latin shoes, the open toe is a much bigger problem than the heel.
  9. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    That likely means you have made more progress on learning to extend the moving foot component than on learning to move the weight all the way through the standing foot before leaving it (which would leave you balanced on the rear edge of the heel)
  10. and123

    and123 Well-Known Member

    It really seems to depend on the person wearing the shoes. I know people who have danced for years in the basic closed-toe character shoe, and to this day I still see people dancing Smooth/Standard in latin sandals at higher levels (Silver/Gold). I cringe, because Chris Stratton is absolutely correct -- it's difficult to impossible to execute the proper technique in those shoes. I was guilty myself of wearing latin shoes for all styles for quite a while due to bad painful early experiences with character shoes and then court shoes, but when my Standard coach insisted I get proper shoes for comps, I noticed a huge difference in step execution. I can't *believe* I used to dance Smooth in 3" flared latin heels :shock:
    That said, my vote is for newbies to get latin sandals unless they're already particularly anal retentive about proper Smooth/Standard technique. One of the biggest issues I've seen with newer dancers is that they lack proper footwork, so the type of shoe often isn't critical right away. A serious dancer, or anyone who can afford it, should of course have both types of shoe. It certainly would help to lessen or eliminate the need to correct bad habits or re-learn technique later on. SO much time and frustration can be wasted on that. Muscle memory can really come back and bite you in the a ss once the "wrong" way of doing something has become ingrained :mad: .
  11. musicchica86

    musicchica86 Active Member

    Well, if they're not planning on competing anytime soon, practice shoes would really be the best compromise (specifically the low-heeled, closed-toed style that's so popular, style # is 1026 for Supadance). They're useful for Latin and Standard without compromising the technique for either--well, except for maybe getting used to a higher heel later on.

    Of course, you can't use practice shoes for comps, so if they're looking for comp shoes, just ignore this post. :p
  12. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    That conclusion seems so out of line with the well thought out remainder of your post. It's hard enough to learn good footwork with footwear that accomodates it - but it's going to be downright impossible without it. But if you aren't going to be developing good habits, why bother putting any real work into studying dance? Teachers who are serious about developing dancers develop the seeds of key habits from the first lesson - and leading amonst these is that it's what you do with the standing foot, not the moving foot, that is the foundation of mastery.

    When skills such as footwork are taught from the beginning, you see beginners of a few months experience competing with better footwork and fundamental skills than usually seen on dancers of many years experience.
  13. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Just curious, what makes an inflexible lace-up any more suitable for latin than an inflexible pump?

    Those shoes wouldn't be bad for learning standard footwork at all though - in fact, they'd probably make getting the initial idea easier.
  14. waltzgirl

    waltzgirl Active Member

    As an all-purpose practice shoe, I like the Godiva by Elegance (try It's a lace-up, small open-toe, mesh and suede shoe. It's SO much prettier than the typical practice shoe. Some other brands, like Celebrity, also make similar shoes.
  15. musicchica86

    musicchica86 Active Member

    My Supadance 1026's are just as flexible as my Latin sandals, if not moreso. Please don't make value judgments about women's practice shoes and/or court shoes unless you've worn them yourself.
  16. delamusica

    delamusica Active Member

    If you can only get one style, get latin shoes. I can approximate standard footwork in my latin shoes (yes, extending your moving foot can hurt at first with the open toe, but you get used to it - and yes, the heel is a little wobbly when you push your weight through it, but if your feet and ankles are strong it can be done), but I absolutely cannot even come close to doing proper latin technique in standard shoes. Not even close.

    The advice about getting what you pay for and spending as much as you can was good (can't remember who said it) - as long as you're sure you're spending that money on a good well-known brand.

    And yes - definitely flesh-colored satin, whatever style.

    Also, I wouldn't go above a 2 1/2 inch heel for beginner dancers. If you can talk any of them into 2 inch heels, that would be even better to learn on. A lot of girls don't like the look of them, though, so good luck with that. But definitely not more than 2 1/2. The half inch up to 3 makes a huge difference in weight placement.
  17. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    If 1026's were as flexible (in the shank) as the men's latin shoes they vaguely resemble, then like men's latin shoes they would not support standard footwork, especially in backwards actions.

    Any lady I've asked about it has said 1026 style shoes were too stiff for proper latin technique.

    Otherwise I'd think they'd be great for the first few months of learning, and for socials. Some might feel that they aren't stylish, but then notice that the ladies wearing them tend to be dancing more, and you realize that being practical is a kind of style too.
  18. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    You can balance on the back of one heel? And not kill the shoes in the process?
  19. delamusica

    delamusica Active Member

    Yes I can balance on one heel of my latin shoes. And no it doesn't kill them. They didn't last quite as long as they would have if I had only been using them for latin, but it's not like they fell apart or anything. If you buy high quality shoes, they're not going to buckle underneath you.

    The latin shoes I used for both styles did eventually break - the heel pulled out during a foxtrot - but they lasted about a year at around 10 hours/week.

    Once your technique improves, you need to get proper shoes for the style. That I agree with. But that you can't even begin to learn proper technique for standard in a latin shoe is just not true. The shoes are different, but they're not THAT different. The flexibility is an issue and yes, it's just going to take your big toe some getting used to doing standard in open-toe shoes. That's not unbearable. The difference in heel placement will not be noticable to a beginner.
  20. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    That you say that is pretty direct evidence that you aren't in the habit of releasing your toe with the weight still on the foot. The more rearward heel placement blocks the progress of the weight, since getting back onto it becomes too "uphill" for it to happen naturally.

    And again - what is noticeable to a beginner depends on what they have been taught to do. I could point out outrageous footwork errors in championship dancers; I could also point out near demonstration quality examples in pre-bronze events.

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