Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Patapouf, Nov 28, 2009.
please also bear in mind the df guidelines for new members advertising
I am in the process of looking for a great pair of ballroom shoes. I always see dancers wearing these fantastic looking gold and silver varieties. I am looking for something that is mainly comfortable yet elegant. Does anyone have any suggestions for styles or brands that have been good to you?
Pain is inevitable...suffering is optional
Devis mutuelle familiale des cheminots fr |Devis mutuelle familial vauban
When I was doing ballroom dancing, I liked Supadance most of all.
Although, I think it is better to ask the question in a ballroom part of the forum.
I was told that open heel cage shoes are best used by tangueras with good balance, mostly because they don't hold your foot as well. All my shoes are closed back and I like them (especially when I someone kicks me). One time I tried to dance in regular NineWest sandal (open back). I didn't like the feeling of the shoe going in two different directions.
I have two pairs of Susana Artesanal shoes. Their website is rubbish, they don't feature any of their newer models. Quality-wise they are one of the best. They are the manufacturers for Tangox2. I find them being even more comfy than CiF's. They are also more unique and a bit less popular with the tourists, so no chance of seeing another woman with the same pair in the same milonga (awkward!). No one seems to import these unfortunatelly, except <pablotango.com> in London. They are also cheaper than CiF.
Just resurrecting this thread as I'd like to put my street shoes aside and buy my first pair of tango shoes. Can anyone recommend a reliable online retailer in the UK?
Also, is there such a thing as a 'beginner's shoe' ? I'm curious after reading some of the discussion earlier in this thread about open vs closed heel cages, etc. I'm presuming you'll tell me it's all down to personal preference - but thought I'd ask!
I don't personally think there is such a thing as a "beginner" shoe. It tall comes down to what you are comfortable with and common sense. IE, if you've never worn or danced in 4" heels, that would be a bad choice for a first shoe. If you do like and wear higher heels, I also advise still getting a lower heel pair for class and practice.
As for open back shoes, the advice I was given (by Yolanda of Tango-Splash) is that you need to buy them slightly smaller than you would a close back shoe, so your foot can't move around...It reminded me of the discussion we had about Geraldine Rojas dancing in Asassination Tango with her feet hanging out the back of her shoes. Yolanda had me put on a shoe that was a full size smaller than what I normally wear....and that may not be to most people's taste.
I don't live in the UK, but in addition to the brands already discussed (Comme Il Faut, Darcos, Neotango and Greta Flora, Tara) most of which do have retailers in Europe like Tangotacion, Lisadore, and probably others I don't know of, you could also check your area for someone who sells Nueva Epoca. These are made by Werner Kern, a well known German brand who has branched out to Tango shoes in the last 2 years and being European, I'd think that would make them fairly easy to locate in the UK since Werner kern is very well known. I have one pair of the Nueva Epoca line and find them well made and comfortable.
If you really want the gorey details, I did my year end tango shoe review a couple of weeks ago on Tango Shoe Divas:
PS- ALso FWIW, Kathleen at Diva-Boutique is having a pretty decent sale on CiF til the end of the month. Wish I could wear them still!
Now that's interesting because I actually find my open back shoes fit smaller than a full back shoe anyway. I've had many pairs of Cif (all 3" heel) and I just find that my heel never fills out the back of the shoe well - esp if it's an ankle strap that is higher up. You may think this is because they're too big or I'm between sizes but actually the open back shoe actually fits more snugly - my foot seems to sit in the shoe more 'squarely' than a closed back.
I have ordered several times from www.malevashoes.com www.diva-boutique.com and once from www.felinashoes.com and had no problems at all. Shoes from maleva come really quickly and I've sent returns back to felina and Kathleen with no probs at all. I've had good experience buying from Kristy in London at http://web.archive.org/web/20140517032724/http://coleccionlarecoleta.com/. However, re 'beginners' shoes.. I agree, I don't think there is such a thing. I started with a low heeled ballroom shoe because they're readily available and the 'character' shoes I'd bought pinched my toes like hell even though they were the right size - didn't seem to matter which brand I tried, they were uncomfortable. I personally don't like suede soled shoes, for me, they don't give me a 'tango feel' - I'd rather wear a pair of dress sandals with a leather sole, I had an open back pair I bought for a song by Balmain, they weren't the trendiest shoe but if they'd been a snugger fit they would've been perfect.
PS I've ordered a pair of really low heeled CIF from Kathleen at Diva - can't wait for them to come though I think she's inundated with orders at the moment. I'm switching to thicker heels for a while which is why I gave Gretaflora a miss for now and the Taras I wanted were out of stock.
I'd say if you found something that works for you- keep with it! That's a good thing. It may all just be down to trial and error.
One thing I have found is that the last open backs I tried, I took the smaller size and it fit fine. I've been finding that in CiF, the "stiffer" the material, the tighter the shoe seems to be on me. So even though I wear a US 6-6.5, if it's a suede or velvet open toe I'm fine in the 6. If it's leather or patent or brocade, the 6 won't fit me except in an open back shoe (and a 7 is too big). But by then the front is so stiff anyway that I couldn't even imagine wearing them. (Really sensitive feet!)
Let us know on TSD how those low heel CiF do. I think they might look nice with pants.
@ Laelia : LS has it right, just find something comfortable and flexible to wear. In the end, I think it's good for tango if your feet can flex and you are comfortable in it. But I agree that most "character" shoes would not be a good choice.
I don't have anything against sude soles myself and several Argentine brands use suede bottoms on their shoes (Tango Brujo comes to mind first) so it doesn't make it "not tango" if you decide you like sude on the bottom.
The benefit of leather is you can wear it on the street and they are "slicker". The downside is a lot of the delicate leather bottoms like CIF uses on the bottom get so scratched up if you are on a crappy floor that after 3-4 wearings, you'd have been better off with suede that you could have cleaned the grit out of. You'll never get those CiF bottoms smooth again after they have been scratched.
Darcos, on the other hand, uses a pretty sturdy leather on their shoes and it resists scratching more than the CiF I have had, IMHO. Jorge Nel seems to use the MOST sturdy leather. I wore my pair on the WORST floor that would have thoroughly botched CIF and they didn't even have a scratch.
A good compromise is what some companies (like Neotango) use- a cromo half sole. It's a leather sole with a thin layer of a very very tight nap suede overlay on the front part- sturdy and flexible!
Another on I like is Greta Flora. They leave the front part as "raw" leather so it feels a little velvety and seems to hold up well. None of mine have scratched to date and I can brush them at the end of the evening to get the gunge off. (But I never wear these on really bad floors anyway).
Well- another verbose shoe thesis...hope it helps...
I prefer thicker heels at a little less than 3 inches, and I get on very well with salsa shoes from http://web.archive.org/web/20110129180248/http://www.oobashoo.co.uk/. They're also very reasonably priced - at the moment they haven't got much stock, but if one of the sizes they have on sale fits you, you're laughing. I got my latest pair for £40. The soles are suede, and I find the shoes very comfortable. I'm a size 4 to 4 and half, slightly wide, but the 4 works for me as they're soft and flexible. My first pair have stood up to a lot of punishment and still look more pretty than battered, although they do look both.
Suede soles/leather soles - whichever you like.
My first pair of proper dancing shoes were ballroom shoes from Werner Kern and they are absolutely fine, very well made, tough and comfortable, they were fairly reasonably priced. Suede soles.
I've got two pairs of Darcos; the problem with Darcos is that you can try on five styles in ostensibly your size and they will be completely different sizes. Two won't go on your feet, two will be so long you can put three fingers down the back, if you're lucky one will fit. But my pairs do a perfectly good job. I always wore them a lot more than my CiFs. I just find them a little high.
CiFs, I have one pair (bought from coleccionlarecoleta - no problems at all) but I wouldn't really buy another as they're very expensive and the shape, height, balance and style just aren't really what I'm ever going to wear much. The soles feel extremely thin and I need something chunkier. But lots of people like them. I'd suggest not choosing them for your first or even your second pair of tango shoes unless you really really want to.
If you liked Werner Kern before you might consider having a look at their Nueva Epoca line that came out last year. This years models are lower heeled (about 6.8cm). I had a little cut off mine and they feel great.
I definitely would consider nueva epoca, the pictures they've got there currently look very good.
I have the "Palma" model. Mine are actually purple metallic on the heel, not the patent shown. The pic doesn't show really well that the toe box is actually a pleated iridescent satin that is purple and bronze-ish, quite pretty.
Do you have any experience with Werner Kern shoes? Can you compare the fit/cut of the Nueva Epocas to the Werner Kerns?
I ask because my first pair of dance shoes (ballroom) were WKs, and they hurt my feet more than I can possibly say. I believe that I'm still having problems from them. (I could be wrong, but it was a new pain that cropped up when I started wearing them. Despite years of wearing high heels prior to that, I've never had that sort of foot/joint pain.)
The NEs look beautiful, but if the toe boxes are similar to the WKs, it's just not even a possibility for me.
I wish I could say I had more experience with the ballroom ones, but I don't.
I briefly had a pair of one of their low heel models I picked up cheaply for practicing in, but didn't really like the feel of the peep toe.
I am extremely particular about the feel of front of shoes now and didn't find any issues with them. If you like the slightly higher heel and can wear it, then the cut of the toe bands on last years models (the high heels) are much like the band sandal cuts of tango shoes you are familiar with. I tried a "Lourdes" model and loved the band on it.
The materials they use mold to your feet quickly, so I have little toe impressions in mine after only 3 wearings because they are soft.
I was a little bummed that the new lower heel models have a toe box cut similar to the classic open toe latin shoe (what I call 3 toes out) as opposed to the more open "tango style" (4 toes out) but I still find them quite comfy.
Carmen (at Carmen's dance shoes) has them on sale til the end of January, and she is very easy if you have to return something, and you always get a receipt for it if you have to return. (I am currently trying to talk myself out of ANOTHER pair...and trying to talk myself INTO waiting til Kathleen has a new batch of Greta's).
I'd say they are worth a try. You'll know quickly if it's not the right fit and will only be out shipping. If you do try them, you may consider a half size up from what you think you normally wear. The sizing is British. I usually take a 6 in CiF (open toe), Neotango, or Greta Flora but ordered a 6.5 (UK 3.5) so that may or may not have something to do with why you didn't like your WK's. Their sizing seems a little different.
Thanks very much for such detailed advice. Always a comfort to buy from recommended sites .. really rather excited to get this first pair bought now, wheee!
My Werner Kerns are very soft and I think they are a half size up from what I normally wear. I was advised about what size to order by the website that sold them to me, now defunct I think.
Half size up is what I ended up with too.
Yeah... you got it...its all preference. You'll also find out fairly quickly that unless you only dance at one venue, one pair of shoes may not be enough.
My preference is usually for a suede sole. My current favorite pair of shoes for tango is actually a pair of ballroom shoes by Very Fine (which is not even one of the top of the line ballroom shoes) I absolutely love them. They have nice metatarsal padding and thick suede on the soles and the perfect heel height for me (its also a broader tipped heel than most tango shoes)
I especially like these shoes in the local venue whose floor is one step from "ice rink" slippery. In fact, I've even danced n RUBBER soled shoes there. (One time, I was remarking that I would dance better if I was in my skates!) Seriously... its that slick. Of course, my partner and I tend to get more apilado than many and there is less pivoting. So my concern is keeping my foot from sliding out from under me.
In another place I dance frequently, the floor gets so sticky that even my smoothest soles sometimes don't pivot easily. There's no way i could wear suede soles or dance sneaks there. Its fun because I get to wear the my shoes with super high heels and NO grip that I hesitate to wear anywhere else because of difficulty with control.
So there's more to the shoe than even just personal preference. My advice? Don't get too caught up in whether your shoes are "tango" shoes. For everyone who has a reason that "tango" shoes are preferable and nessesary, there's someone else who prefers something NOT made specifically for tango by some fancy (read: expensive) tango shoe company.
edited to add: I've also found that as my technique has improved, I need less "grip" from the shoe. So my other advice would be to avoid spending too much while you are still trying to figure out what you like and what works for you. It might change as you learn more styles, dance more places, and generally improve your technique.
I second that. I had to part with almost everything I bought during the first year and a half. Do not buy too many pairs in the beginning. Chances are, your dancing will change faster than they can wear out, and so will your requirements, preferences for the shoes.
Both Lily and Zoops have given you some sound advice.
I too use different sole types on different floors, though for me the Argentine chromo half soles do tend to work well on many surfaces because they pivot alright most of the time and I can use them on a dirty floor without worrying about gouging up my soles.
I've also found I prefer different heel types depending on if I am dancing a lot of open of a night.
With shoes I have with "ballroom" suede on the bottom (sometimes I add this on to a leather bottoms shoe that I need a little more between me and the floor) I usually just let the suede pack down til it's slick anyway, because I don't like it so "grippy".
If you like higher heels, my suggestion would be (similar to before) to get a pair of nice heels in a height you are comfortable with, and a pair of lower heeled shoes and be prepared for some trial and error. You could can easily add suede on if you get leather and don't like it (or just scratch them up) or if you go with suede, just don't clean them much- let the suede pack down.
Separate names with a comma.