Tango Argentino > Yet another tango shoe question: Practice shoes

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by restheo, Mar 17, 2010.

  1. restheo

    restheo New Member

    Hey guys! I'm a long-time lurker, but it's my first time posting. I've searched through all the tango threads regarding shoes and I didn't feel like any of them totally answered my question.

    I've been dancing AT for about 6 months. In the beginning I was dancing in my old character shoes (They are comfortable and I use them to practice 90% of the time no matter what dance I'm working on). However, as I improved, I bought myself a fancy pair of neotango heels that I really love. I was nervous about wearing them for a while because I felt I might not be ready (there is a 1.5 inch height difference between them and the character shoes), but once I actually started wearing them to dance in, I found that they helped my dancing (because I had to concentrate less about maintaining my weight forward, unlike when I wore the character shoes, since with them I always had to be conscious of not placing too much weight on that big, chunky (and comfortable!) heel).

    I started dancing more frequently, and nowadays I dance anywhere from 15-20 hours a week. The issue here is that after a 5 hour milonga in the neotangos, my feet are absolutely killing me. The toes on my right foot also have a nasty habit of going numb, and it takes a couple of days before they are back to normal. So I'm on the hunt for a pair of shoes that are comfortable--something that is a combination of what my character shoes are and what the neotangos are...so a moderate heel with lots of cushioning, a workhorse of sorts that I can wear all the time for classes and practicas, something to slip into after my feet have been beaten by the milonga monster...

    Also, what do you ladies practice in? I see there are these tango sneakers, but I don't know if they would really be good for me. What about practice ballroom shoes? I'm totally open to all suggestions.
  2. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    I used to practice in my old ballroom shoes (type Very Fine and Elegance) with 2.5" heel. I don't do that anymore. Nowadays I practice in my slightly worn out tango shoes, sometimes the ones with lower heels. I have two pairs with 2-2.5" heel. They are convenient for the classes where I have to alternate lead and follow. I do not like the heel lower than that for following. Sometimes I use Bloch dance sneakers.
    However, if your toe is going numb, it is quite possible that the shoe does not fit properly. You may need a different size, width, or a different toe box cut.
    Also, in general it helps to have several different pairs of shoes, and rotate them during the week. At times even changing shoes during the same evening makes the feet feel less tired.
  3. Lui

    Lui Active Member

    I have some orthopedic insoles made for my dancing shoes, they are a great support when dancing daily. When the toes go numb maybe the shoe is not high enough at the front. A shomaker might do somethink about it. At the moment I use shoes from Loro Gerard for all dancing. Not because of conviction but because they were in store and were fitting. I’m not sure if they are really from Argentina, but the have that sturdy quality that many Argentine dance shoes have. They also have a leather sole not a suede sole. For training and dancing I use the same shoes as I do in shows. That way I fell comfortable when performing.

    My partner likes those Come-Il-Faut shoes. 10 cm heels in shows, 9 cm in class/training. For warming up, or some single moves she uses one sole ballet slippers.

    I’m not a big fan of tango sneakers, as they are too chunky for my taste. The additional material makes moves like barridas or sandwiches less accurate for me.
  4. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I feel the same way about most dance sneakers, but sansha makes a model called Dynamo that has a less structured/ bulky split sole. I usually wear these for long days of workshops or for teaching.


    There are several shoes on this page that have less bulk for the sole than many dance sneakers. The Dyna-stay seems to have an even lighter sole than the dynamo, but I haven't seen one IRL.
  5. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    My recommendation would be to vary the heel heights you wear when practicing. In some ways the higher heels help, but they can also cause some bad habits. Flats don't create bad habits so much (from what I can tell) but they can leave you ill prepared for a long night of dancing in heels and the way the heels affect you and change things.

    I would also add that I sometimes have to choose shoes based on the slickness (or lack thereof) of the floor. And when dressing up, I have to consider both the floor and whether the shoes go ok with my dress. So IMO its best to get used to a variety of things.

    BTW - my current favorite heeled shoes are a pair of Very Fine suede sole ballroom shoes, and for really sticky floors, a pair of CIF's with leather soles that have a slightly lower than usual heel (not the super high stilettos) Both pairs have 3" heels. However, as I said, I stick with sneaks for long days of workshops, teaching, and leading.
    chipi3 likes this.
  6. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    This is probably the best advice re shoes. It is not secret that one should change the type/style of shoe regularly if dancing for long/exended periods.

    Also, do not place all of your attention on the shoe. Please, pay attention to the way you are holding balance and using the feet. Erroneously doing either of these things will also exacerbate foot pain.
  7. restheo

    restheo New Member

    Actually I never had foot pain until one night that I didn't have my tango shoes and I danced for about 4 hours in a pair of very thin-soled latin shoes (2.5 in heel). My toes were numb for a week! Ever since then, it happens to varying degrees, regardless of the shoe that I'm wearing. It just happens if I put a lot of strain on the balls of my feet, which seems to be any night I'm dancing tango for more than 2 hours at a time.

    And Angel, you are probably right. I try to maintain a stance where I can still wiggle my toes and am not on "tiptoes" per se...but who knows what I am doing while in the throes of a dance? I'll try to pay attention to this when I'm dancing tomorrow.

    So what I seem to be hearing is dance sneakers for workshops and classes, and just switch it up whenever I'm wearing heels. Question: Do dance sneakers actually provide support or any specific benefit? Or would I do just as well dancing in a leather-soled jazz shoe for practice? And are there any specific brands of shoes that are more comfortable? Or does it all just come down to the type of foot one has?
  8. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I'm going to go out on a limb, despite having no medical training and guess that you may have temporary nerve damage. You will really need to give it a break for it to fully heal.

    I had a similar sounding thing at the base of my right index finger (on the outside) from holding a long handled paintbrush for long periods of time. I would have numbness in my finger often and I think it was from the pressure on that spot. I actually had to start holding the brush differently for awhile before it finally went away. Since I was making a living painting at the time, it was very awkward!

    Numbness is not a good thing, especially if it didn't go away soon after you removed your shoes (if part of your foot was just "asleep" from the pressure or blocked circulation, it would resolve itself fairly soon after the external pressure on the affected area is removed... I'm sure you've felt that pins and needles thing from having a limb go to sleep?)

    You may want to nip this problem in the bud and see a doctor soon rather than waiting for it to get worse and then being forced to either stop dancing or wear only well cushioned sneakers or something.

    Oh, and don't wear those shoes again until you have a better idea of just what's happened and how serious it might become. I had trouble with my hand for so long, I got used to it and only after the numbness had been gone for awhile did I even register that it was no longer a problem. In fact, I think it only really went away when I stopped working as a scenic full time.
  9. restheo

    restheo New Member

    I know where you're coming from, Zoopsia. I asked my primary physician about it and they said the same thing about nerve damage. When I asked them if I should see a specialist for it, they said that a specialist would most likely tell me to 1. stop wearing high-heeled shoes or 2. stop dancing. It follows that if you've got a hobby where you're always on your feet, then your feet are going to take extra wear and tear. Since stopping dancing isn't really an attractive option, I'm trying to find ways to continue dancing but minimize that extra wear. I have never used those salsa shoes again, and I ice my feet after a long night of dancing. Right now, It seems like maybe the best option would be to get a pair of those dance sneakers and then a lower, padded heel...as well as focus on how I'm holding myself and seeing if there are any adjustments I can make in my posture to make dancing easier on my feet.
  10. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    I think everyone has pretty much covered things pretty well. I agree you should not just have one pair of shoes, but a couple (or so) of varying heights.

    If you are looking for a nicely made shoe that is also quite pretty and low heel- try Kathleen's selection of Greta Flora shoes at Diva-Boutique. Greta Flora makes a 5.5cm heel that is elegant (kitten heel stiletto) so you get a similar look to the high heels without the height.

    I have found it difficult to wear very thin soles (like on latin shoes) for dancing tango. If you have a pair and it has room, try adding a full leather sole insert pr m*eta-tarsel insert (like Tacco brand) for extra cushioning. Or have an extra layer of suede added to the bottom (also a fairly easy DIY project).

    Good luck. for me- the Greta Flora option has been good. I have 3 pair now. :)
  11. New in NY

    New in NY New Member

    B - I have been coveting the Greta Floras for some time now. How is the sizing? I wear a size 7 shoe but sometimes end up with a size 6 tango shoe. I have never ordered dance shoes by mail.
  12. mshedgehog

    mshedgehog New Member

    Werner Kern also do some very nice styles with a lower heel. It would probably be closer to the practice shoe height. I have one pair and wear them a lot; the heels are thinnish and they look like proper tango shoes, but they're low enough that I can run up or down stairs in them. The soles are suede. I don't know where you'd get these in the States though. Ballroom stockists might have them.
  13. New in NY

    New in NY New Member

    My Walter Kern's (Nueva Epoca) are my current favorites. Mine are not a low-heeled style, though. Bought them at WorldTone in NYC. They do have a website from which you can place an order as well.
  14. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    I think they run wide. The insole length is 9.25" on a size 6 shoe from Greta Flora. They are pretty good about this- all 3 of mine are the same insole length. I wear a 6- 6.5 US and bought a 36 and they fit fine. The one size 37 I tried on had a 9.5" insole and was too large for me. Measure your foot length as a starting point.

    Kathleen is the only person in the US who I can think of who is web-accessible and has them in stock. She is very easy to deal with in terms of fit and exchange. If your feet are narrow, perhaps a less open toe would be better.

    I also second the recommendation for Nueva Epoca. I have a pair and like them. I got a pair of the lower heels (3") and had them cut down another 1/4" and they feel great. I also added an extra layer of suede on the bottom to make them feel more padded, but another option is having a leather bottom put on. For me, adding suede is less expensive because it is not hard for me to do and I can buy replacement soles for about $12, as opposed to $25-30 for adding a leather sole, which I don't know how to do.

    I would caution also against people who tell you you need to buy 1-2 sizes down from your street shoe. Your toes should not be hanging over the edge and they should fit comfortably snug and not skin tight where toe joints begin to hurt after short periods of time. Maybe that's what ballroom people suggest for ballroom shoes, but tango shoes shouldn't fit like that.

    It is true there is size variation in Argentine shoes. I take a 37 almost every time when I have tried on Flabella, can't hardly squeeze in to a 36 so it is trial and error to some degree. You just have to latch on to someone who is easy to work with for fitting and once you know your size with a brand, you can usually order easily with fewer mishaps.

    I also make a really really strong suggestion to only order things you can return if they don't fit- ie- don't special order shoes over the web. I have had absolutely no luck in that aspect.

    Good luck!
  15. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    In the states a lady named Carmen in California carries them. She is also pretty easy to deal with in terms of exchange and fitting. They are rather expensive here though. Greta Flora costs a little bit less. I'd wait for sales for Nueva Epoca shoes here in the US when buying them.
  16. New in NY

    New in NY New Member

    My low heeled Greta Floras just arrived. Love them! Going to dance around the house now -
  17. j_alexandra

    j_alexandra Well-Known Member

    can I ask an ignorant newbie question, as long as I"m on a tango shoes thread?

    what's the difference between tango shoes and just really beautiful shoes? Are they structured like ballroom shoes, with the steel shank etc?

    TIA for any help
  18. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    Steel shank, reinforced all the way inside out (some ordinary street shoes, it takes one milonga, at times, one tanda, to kill them). The materials do not stick to the floor and between themselves. The shoes are balanced , the heels positioned to encourage and make easy keeping weight forward, that is essential for tango dancing. The shoes are very stable. If the shoe is wobbling standing on its own, it will be very hard to dance in it. The shoes provide support for the feet, but at the same time are flexible. The sole is leather or suede.
    There are some "ordinary" street shoes that qualify.
    chipi3 and SelenaSaberWind like this.
  19. j_alexandra

    j_alexandra Well-Known Member

    Thank you -- this was very helpful.
  20. basicarita

    basicarita Member

    Thank you, everyone, for your tips here. Extremely helpful.

Share This Page