Dance Shoes and Your Feet

SDsalsaguy

Administrator
Staff member
#1
Taken, with permission, from Terryl's Corner - Advice and tips for dancers

Dance Shoes and Your Feet
By Terryl Jones

Shoes: Why do I need them, where should I buy them, what kind should I buy, and how do I take care of them?

These are just some of the questions that I have been asked concerning dance shoes. So from the beginning, what is the difference between dance shoes and street shoes? Lots! First of all, dance shoes have a very thin sole which makes it easier for the dancer to feel the floor. This also allows the dancer to have a flexible foot. We've all seen a year-old Lab puppy with their big floppy feet, remember how clumsy they are at that age? As dancers, we don't want to look floppy or clumsy, right? The only way that you can feel the floor, really understand your balance and develop your potential is to have flexibility of the foot. The dance shoe sole is made of chrome suede. Leather soles slip, and rubber soles stick - suede is the best compromise for dancing. Depending on how you use your foot the shoe will either grip, allowing you to stop quickly or slide, enabling you to do spins and slides. In a ladies' shoe, there is a steel shank welded to a steel rod in the heel. This means that dance shoe heels can support much more weight and pressure than ordinary street shoes. This allows the lady to use her whole foot while dancing, thus minimizing the disadvantage of being in high heels. We no longer have to carry all of our weight on our toes. The straps and heel cups for theses shoes should be quite firm and have no gaps. The straps should be tight enough to hold your heel into the shoe. The same holds for men's shoes. The last thing a dancer wants is to move or stop and have the shoe react later. You want the shoe to become part of your body. Ladies also note that unlike street shoes, in dance shoes you want very little overhang of the shoe beyond your toes. This is because many times you will need to use your toes and you don't want the shoe to get in the way.

Where should/can I get them? Outside of California, most dancers stil have to rely on mail order to get their shoes. But here in CA we are fortunate to have many places to purchase shoes. There are several shops but also here at Let's Dance we will be carrying dance shoes. We are dealing with a company that offers us a great discount that we will be able to pass on to our clients.

How should I take care of my shoes? First and foremost, never wear them outside. The suede will become wet or oily and lose the properties that make it superior. Along with your dance shoes, get a wire shoe brush. After each wearing, brush all the debris off the bottom of the shoe. The closer you can keep the sole to its pristine condition, the better your shoes will serve you. The shoe will eventually start breaking down. If you carry your weight very much on the inside or outside of your foot the shoe will develop a "sag". To test your shoes, set them on a table and check to see if they still stand in a balanced manner on their own. Check your heels! Re-heeling the tips often will help. Once the heel cup starts breaking down, the shoe is no longer giving you the support it should. At this point the shoe should be "demoted" to a club or party shoe. Most serious dancers have several shoes in rotation. The newest shoe is "competition or show" shoe. As the shoe starts losing some strength and beauty it gets demoted to a "class" shoe and then to a "party" shoe and then to a doorstop. While most beginners are ready to invest in only one pair of shoes, intermediate dancers should have at least two pairs.

Multiple shoes?? Yes, if for no other reason than to change to a cooler, drier pair of shoes when you have been dancing for a while. It really does make a difference in how tired your feet and legs can become. Also, each shoe will put pressure on a different part of your foot. This especially applies to ladies as we can vary heel height.

What about jazz shoes or those new jazz tennis shoes? They look tempting, but they are only allright as a secondary shoe. This form of dancing will usually have you dancing in an environment where you won't want to wear tennis shoes. You should learn in the type of shoe most similar to the ones you will actually be dancing in. Jazz shoes put the balance in a different place on your foot. A beginner is just trying to learn to be consistent in their balance so they can develop muscle memory. An experienced dancer can handle the shoes being very different. Also for the ladies the bulk of the shoe itself will make spins feel totally different. Learn to do a good spin, then try them in jazz tennies.

Tired feet? If you are dancing for a long period have at least 2 pairs of shoes and alternate. Dr. Scholls' pads can help, as well. After dancing: stretch out the thighs, calves and ankles. Prop your feet up to help the swelling go down. Wash them in cool water. Massage them with a cooling lotion such as peppermint. Drink lots of water - a hydrated body cools quicker. Last, ignore the pain and dance!
 
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pygmalion

Well-Known Member
#2
This is a great article, and covers the bases very well.

One comment I'd like to make is that, if at all possible, one should buy dance shoes from an experienced dance shoe salesperson, at least the first couple times around. It's tempting to go to the web and shop for bargains. Heck, I do that. But those first couple times, I found it very helpful to have the advice and input of the experienced (in my case) ballroom dancers who sell shoes in at their showroom in my town (props, Sharron!). Dance shoe fit is very specific, and it's hard to guess. So until you know how shoes are supposed to fit, I think it's best to get help from a professional, if you can.
 

pygmalion

Well-Known Member
#4
Oh yeah, and one more thing about where to buy dance shoes. I've been fortunate, because there's a great dance shoe dealer a half-hour drive away. In addition to that, though, many ballet-type dance stores around here do stock a small selection of ballroom, club or swing dancing shoes. The selection's not as good, but they will often order shoes for you. It's worth a phone call.
 

pygmalion

Well-Known Member
#5
I guess what I was trying to hint with this is don't give up on finding a good dance shoe dealer just because you're not in Cali. All due respect to Terryl, but there are reputable shoe dealers in lots of other places. Just take a look, either on the web, in the phone book, or ask for word of mouth at your dance studio. There are resources out there.
 

pygmalion

Well-Known Member
#7
Yup. And same thing with character shoes. You end up over your heels, instead of forward poised. I guess, if one were very experienced, they could compensate, but I'm not that good yet. :?
 

msc

New Member
#8
I really hate jazz sneakers. I don't even like them for social dancing.

A lot of women wear men's Latin shoes instead of jazz sneakers. That's a good choice, IMO.
 
#10
Folk Dance shoes

Just was reading about shoe's...In my opinion..I would never order shoe's..might be ok for some..but I must try on shoes for myself..all feet are different...

I use to wear the heel black shoe with the stramp...for looks and performing..but now I wear low heel shoes..must feel good..if your feet hurt you can't dance good..I don't like to hurt..lol..Joy
 
#11
Comfort when dancing latin dance

I have danced for up to 8 hours at a time and my feet were KILLING me the next day. I always bring along a slab of moleskin for allnight dance parties! When I practice(usually 2 hours at a time HARD, sweaty salsa shines) I now wear my heels for the first hour and switch into my jazz shoes for the next hour. They are SOOOOOOO comfy, I can do complicated shines without my heel catching on the hem of my pants(Oops! This sometimes happens-tell me I'm not the only one!) and I can do cool jumps, hip-hop moves and cool spins. Ladies, you have GOT to get a pair of jazz dance shoes to give your feet a break if you dance for long stretches. I don't care for the split-sole sneaker look however. They make your feet look like donkey hooves!
 

Vince A

Active Member
#12
Re: Comfort when dancing latin dance

cocodrilo said:
I have danced for up to 8 hours at a time and my feet were KILLING me the next day. I always bring along a slab of moleskin for allnight dance parties! When I practice(usually 2 hours at a time HARD, sweaty salsa shines) I now wear my heels for the first hour and switch into my jazz shoes for the next hour. They are SOOOOOOO comfy, I can do complicated shines without my heel catching on the hem of my pants(Oops! This sometimes happens-tell me I'm not the only one!) and I can do cool jumps, hip-hop moves and cool spins. Ladies, you have GOT to get a pair of jazz dance shoes to give your feet a break if you dance for long stretches. I don't care for the split-sole sneaker look however. They make your feet look like donkey hooves!
Hiya cocodrilo . . . welcome to the dance forums!

8 hours of dancing, eh??? You must really love dancing. Many times when we go to a dance venus/competition, we will dance that much and over a three-day period.

I usually start with men's latin shoes with 1 1/2 heels, but usually change after an hour or so. I'll then switch to dance sneakers or jazz shoes, and YES - since my dance pants are hemmed according to the height of my latin shoes - my heels do catch in the hem of the pants!

The split-sole sneaker . . . I can't live without them . . . I dance so much better in them, but they did take a while to get used to.

And on making your feet look like donkey hooves . . . what are you doing looking down???? I'm kidding . . . just initiating you to the DF . . . sometimes we have fun at your expense . . . :wink:

I usually save the jazz shoes as the last resort for relief . . . as much of my practice at home is done with jazz shoes. They are comfortable, but they do require a specific sock to be worn with them.
 
#13
Dance Shoes

Hi Vince A!
I have heels ranging in size from 2-3 1/2" and a guy could not possibly imagine the pain a woman must endure after spending hour upon hour in them, unless of course you are a member of the Trocadero de Monte Carlo dance troupe. I would imagine the mens' dance footwear to be pretty comfortable, and guys don't look goofy wearing anything, really.
Unfortunately, to go with the sexy attire that salsa dancing invites, heels look the best.
I produce latin dance parties at clubs, thus I am indeed on my feet for the better part of 8 hours! Quite tired the next day, to be honest with you.
 

Vince A

Active Member
#14
Re: Dance Shoes

cocodrilo said:
Hi Vince A!
I have heels ranging in size from 2-3 1/2" and a guy could not possibly imagine the pain a woman must endure after spending hour upon hour in them, unless of course you are a member of the Trocadero de Monte Carlo dance troupe. I would imagine the mens' dance footwear to be pretty comfortable, and guys don't look goofy wearing anything, really.
Unfortunately, to go with the sexy attire that salsa dancing invites, heels look the best.
I produce latin dance parties at clubs, thus I am indeed on my feet for the better part of 8 hours! Quite tired the next day, to be honest with you.
Those are some "high-heels."

Salsa does have a great clothing-style in it's own. I love the men's clothes as well, a the women's sexy clothes.

I can't wait to get better at Salsa and other Latin dances, so I can go get some more clothes . . . I love clothes!

You have a tough job . . . I've produced a few dance parties, but never wanted to continue doing it. Too many headaches . . . no wonder you are tired the next day.
 

jenn

New Member
#15
because one foot is smaller than the other, it can be a problem when buying premade dance shoes.
i buy my shoes custom made for my feet from this tiny store in burbank (ca.). the gentleman traces my feet onto a piece of paper, then uses a tape measure to measure the arch and width of my feet. within a week, theyre done, and they fit perfect!!! no breaking in or streching them out. no blisters!! and oh, they cost less than the place i used to 'order' my shoes.
and yes, theyre pretty!!

i definitely suggest having them custom made for your feet, especially if theyre for dancing. 8)
 
#16
jenn said:
because one foot is smaller than the other, it can be a problem when buying premade dance shoes.
i buy my shoes custom made for my feet from this tiny store in burbank (ca.). the gentleman traces my feet onto a piece of paper, then uses a tape measure to measure the arch and width of my feet. within a week, theyre done, and they fit perfect!!! no breaking in or streching them out. no blisters!! and oh, they cost less than the place i used to 'order' my shoes.
and yes, theyre pretty!!

i definitely suggest having them custom made for your feet, especially if theyre for dancing. 8)
That's a great idea, Jenn!
Your advice will save a lot of folks on this forum some pain, I'm sure!
 
#17
I quote myself to let people read this text in the proper context. ( I wrote it yesterday in a different thread)

Lucretia said:
Before you buy new shows, read my tips below. These "rules" works for all kind of shoes...not only dance shoes...

1. Arch support has to do with both the form and the stiffness of the sole. Grip the sole with one hand where the toes are and one hand where the heal is. Try to twist the sole. The weaker the sole is the worse it is. If you can twist the sole easily, there will be no good support no matter how well the sole fits your arch. And no matter what sole the orthopedic surgeon will make you. The foot will slide inward or outward depending how your step is. And it will hurt!

2. One more thing to remember is the heal grip. If the heal isn’t fixated the foot will slide side wards more easily. And that will cause you pain as well.

I have spend thousands of $ on shoes and handmade orthopedic arch support. But they don’t work if the shoe isn’t good enough. I'm a notorious pronator (well known among runners) so I really knows what a pain bad shoes might cause you.



/Lucretia
The shoe I use is made by Top Tanz, a German Company specialized in dance shoes. They have excellent archsupport, stiff sole BUT are flexible for pivoting. These shoes are wounderful, I can dance for a whole night without pain :banana:

/Lucretia
 
#18
Tired feet? If you are dancing for a long period have at least 2 pairs of shoes and alternate. Dr. Scholls' pads can help, as well. After dancing: stretch out the thighs, calves and ankles. Prop your feet up to help the swelling go down. Wash them in cool water. Massage them with a cooling lotion such as peppermint. Drink lots of water - a hydrated body cools quicker. Last, ignore the pain and dance!
1. We need good warm up muscles before dancing. Massage, and between dances at rest - Leg Warmers. For example, such as here
[removed commercial link]
2. Shoes should be chosen correctly.​
 
#19
I'm the at the opposite end for the scale, an over supinator with a high arch.

The solution, sueded Skateboard shoes which have lots of cushioning. The shoes must be flexible (you can bend them in half) but otherwise they work extremely well. I currently use the style 'Trick' by the brand 'No Fear'

They also look pretty stylish :)
 

KN

New Member
#20
I have flat feet so wearing heels is difficult for me. I'm also a recreational dancer and typically dance for a couple of hours at a time, maybe once every couple of weeks (not enough!). 2 inch heels are about my limit. I know it is recommended to have a second pair of shoes, say Jazz shoes, for when my feet get tired. However, I don't feel that my dancing is as elegant in flat shoes. The only dance that that works for me in flats is an East Coast Swing. At the end of the night it's worth it. I give my feet a good massage and they are good to go the next day.
 

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