Tango Argentino > What makes for a good "both ways" tango shoe?

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Andira, Mar 8, 2009.

  1. Andira

    Andira New Member

    I can not use normal tango heels. In fact, I ruined my feet wearing them. (long story) Using orthotics in all shoes and wearing shoes indoors has worked miracles. My feet don't hurt any more. But, I'm not taking any chances. I have worn flat shoes only - or less than one inch - for a couple of years, and there is no way I put my feet in high heel shoes. I'd want a little more heel than flats, though. Some women who lead wear different shoes for leading and following. I'd like to get something inbetween, with less than two inches heel and not too narrow - that'd be difficult to lead in.

    Obviously I can't use anthing that is sold as a tango shoe. How do I judge what could possibly work as an "inbetween" or "both ways" tango shoe?
  2. TangoTricia

    TangoTricia New Member

    They may not be glamerous, but the shows sold by the major dance shoe companies, such as Freed & Supadance, as practice shoes for teachers work well for me. I just today decided that I need to practice in my higher heels, thhough, otherwise the first hour of a milonga is wasted getting used to the new heel height...
  3. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I agree that the "practice" shoes may be your best bet. They have lower heels than most dance shoes, but the attraction for me is the fact that the heel is thicker so there is more heel surface in contact with the floor. I don't have a pair yet, but I am considering them.

    When I know I'm going to be leading or teaching, I use dance sneakers with split soles. Sansha makes some that aren't as bulky and "hip hop" looking as most, but they still look pretty goofy with a skirt. (however I have worn them with a short straight skirt and capri leggings... that looks ok, although not very dressy)

    There is a swing dance shoe company that makes a heeled swing oxford in tan suede that looks very attractive compaired to some of the practice shoes. I can't think of the name off the top of my head, but if I do, I'll post it. I've heard rave reviews of those shoes for comfort, support and function as dance shoes.
  4. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    OK.. found it...

    Aris Allen.

    I don't think you can buy directly from them retail, but Dancestore.com has them. They have a lovely Camel colored velvet 2" heeled oxford (thick heels) it also comes in black velvet if you want that black tango look. I've been thinking about these for awhile, but haven't actually tried them. But I've heard only great things about them. You might want to pop over to the swing dance section of dance forums and ask about them
  5. waltzgirl

    waltzgirl Active Member

    If you want a dressier shoe in a lower heel, Celebrity has a full range of open and closed toe ballroom shoes that you can special order with a 1 1/2 inch heel. In fact they have 2 heels that height you can choose from, one narrower than the other.
  6. Andira

    Andira New Member

    My list so far looks something like this

    • They should have leather soles, or other non-grippy material. (This really is the smallest problem. After all I can let a cobbler put leather on the sole of any shoe.)
    • Not too wide, chunky heels, but not too narrow. When following I kind of miss the heel biting into the floor, it's more distinct than flats. Too narrow will be problems then leading.
    • The heel should be placed centered under the heel - fashion sometimes put them further back. Or should they? (Maybe it is the back edge that should be centered to the point where a narrow heel touches the floor? Again, I'm thinking about walking backwards.)
    • To be stable, I think they need to hold my heel well in place. Maybe this means there will always be straps or buckles of some kind?
    • I must be able to put some kind of orthotics in them. In most slim shoes, this is difficult. Sometimes you can strech the shoe a bit, or pick a larger size, but it is difficult (though not impossible) to get it quite right. I think I need - sorry, I have no words for this. I can not have an open toe, or a shoe that consists of straps arranged over the foot. It needs to me a more or less full shoe, at least in toe and heel. If it is open in the sides the orthotics will show. It might not be a major trouble though, depending on the shoe, but open heel or toe means the orthotics won't stay in place.
    I was set on getting non-dancing shoes, since nothing I've seen in mainstream tango so far would work. You're all suggesting other kind of dance shoes, huh? You may be right about that, getting shoes meant for dance should automatically mean they fulfill most points on my list.

    The shoes I've seen sold as practice shoes still have a little narrower heel than I had in mind. Those were tango practice shoes, I am not sure what kind of shoes you are referring to? Something like this? http://www.dancestore.com/images/202-BK-1.jpg Hm. I'll consider it.

    Most dance sneekers have split soles, it seems. I could use those (although I also want to have something with a little heel) but since the orthotics remove most of the flexibility the split sole is kind of pointless.. plus, I've been adviced to wear stable shoes.

    I recently bought a pair of shoes made to put orthotics in. They are the first pair of slightly more dressy shoes I've had for a couple of years :) http://www.thinkshoes.com/_media/_shoes/82261-70.jpg They have a pre-made sole in them, just like sports shoes etc. You lift them out and put the orthotics there instead. I'm not sure they work for dancing though. Not sure if the heel is put in place stably enough, and also the heel has a slightly odd form. Maybe that causes weird things when walking backwards?
  7. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    There are a few companies making tango shoes in lower than 3" heels. Diva Boutique and Tara tango (and Greta FLora too but they are hard to get).

    I think if you need orthotics,then latin shoes are probably not a good choice. Diva-Boutique has a couple of shoes with orthotics fitted in to them, though the heel may be a little too high on those. She also does some 2" heels (the Paulina model) whihc might work for you and have a suede half sole (leather sole with a coarse suede overlay) I prefer these now to full leather soles as the inevitable grit doesn't mess up the coarse suede as bad as it does my full leathers.

    The other brand I can recommend is Tara Tango. She does several models in a lower heel, and her shoes are padded from heels to toe, not just at the ball of foot. Her styles can be a little conservative, but having suffered plenty of foot issues myself, I have come to accept that right now, me being comfortable is better than having snazzy heels. I have the Malena model and it is quite comfortable. I added flowers to it to make it look more like the Greta Flora shoes I liked (but that had 3 5/8" heels I couldn't wear) and my feet appreciate it.
  8. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    I only recommend "character" shoes (the ones you linked to from Danstore) as a last resort. I have not found that they have any support for your feet and the lack of flexibility in them (for me at least) makes it harder to excersize good technique. I'd recommend a dance sneaker before I would most character shoes (the Bloch Splitflex being just about my only exception).
  9. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    I love my Aris Allen Rugcutters. I have the black suede for practicing in or when my feet just plain hurt- they are cute and still stylish.
  10. Andira

    Andira New Member

    Wow, that's useful info! Currently I won't wear over two inches, but if that works I might try. http://www.diva-boutique.com/women.aspx This is the website, right? I don't understand how to browse it :confused: I can use google to search the site for "orthotics" but that yields nothing.
  11. Andira

    Andira New Member

    Flexibility, hm. Flexibility in what way?

    The tango shoes I've seen including my old ones have had stiff soles from toe to heel. I remember the old suede pumps I wore for beginner classes. The sole was pretty soft and bent right where the front part of the foot start touching the floor. They were hopeless, so I quickly switched to flats instead. I've been wondering if a tango shoe, or dance shoe in general, with heels should be stiff underneath, I mean as in not flexible at all.
  12. waltzgirl

    waltzgirl Active Member

    A pretty practice shoe is the Godiva by Elegance, which I think I got at dancehappy dot com. They have two shoes they call Godiva, but the one I mean has a 1 1/2 inch heel. It has a tiny peep toe and laces, so the two halves of the top are completely separate, which ought to allow you to accommodate the orthotics.

    A friend wears orthotics in her Celebrity shoes; she just went up a size to make room for them and they seem to work fine.
  13. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    the best way to browse her site (and she does make browsing a little odd) is by selecting from her drop down menu's by either you size, or by designer if you don't want to go through all the shoes she has.

    Here's a link to a search I did from her drop down menus based on heel height, brand (Diva Boutique) and size US 7. Her shoes run pretty true to american sizing, maybe slightly larger in some cases.

  14. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    Well- even the leather bottom tango shoes I have have some flexibility in the soles. There's just something about character shoes that has never seemed to allow any sort of foot articulation and I have never seens a pair have decent foot support. Honestly, before I'd get something that looked like that just because the heels were low, I'd get one of the Tara Malena's in the low heel.

    The times I have worn tango shoes with no flexibility at all (platforms), I actually ended up with more foot pain.

    My theory is this- when you are walking backwards, you have got to roll through your foot to a certain degree and contricting this with shoes that have absolutely no give in them made more problems for me. I am not talking about using the thin suede soles that most ballroom shoes have, but instead something with a leather or leather half sole that provides support for your foot but also allows you to move through your foot instead of being forced to plunk your entire foot down at once (which isn't very good technique and usually makes you fall away from your partner) and maybe hurt yourself worse as you attempt to extend and transfer your weight.

    If it were me, I'd make up the difference with extra padding in the footbed for your feet rather than using the double thick leather soles most character shoes have which allow for almost no foot articulation when dancing backwards.
  15. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    Here's the other shoe brand you may want to consider- they are actual tango shoes. Kind of plain, but comfortable and well made.



    and a dressy one:


    Hope these help and good luck. I understand completely. I messed up my feet years ago and have been paying the price ever since.
  16. Andira

    Andira New Member

    Are you referring to what on the website is called metatarsal support? like for instance in some of the shoes in your previous link.
  17. Andira

    Andira New Member

    Now that Godiva was an interesting shoe! Yes, fitting in the orthotics should be much easier with that design.
  18. Andira

    Andira New Member

    Ah the Tara shoes, very interesting indeed. For the moment I settle with shoes that don't look like tango shoes, but in the future I might give it a try. Not that ordering from the US is very practical, but it is much easier to look around and ask shops and sellers when you know what you are looking for!

    The heel looks wider than it is long (hope that description is understandable). Interesting choice. For walking backwards with the weight over the "place of impact" so to speak and not getting the heel too narrow - after all, a slimmer heel is more of a balance problem in lower heels - maybe that is the better option, yeah.

    You got me thinking. Excellent.

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