I have a pair with the raw leather soles. They're very slick and the hard soles are supposed to be even slicker. They're tough with slick floors and/or if you don't have great balance. Of dances I've tried so far, lindy hop challenges my balance the most. I find them great for balboa, but I'm kind of a spaz doing lindy hop in them.
It's also worthy of note that it has been said if the skin to the tape wears through (which can happen if one is not careful or does not re-tape often) and the adhesive gets of the floor making the floor less desirable for everyone... something that everyone who tapes should be aware of.
that said... I'm fond of my hard leather soles -- I can spin on carpet! which is really nice Woo Hoo!
Just beware of duct tape residue sticking to nice wood floors. This once happened to the floor at the former studio where I worked. One of this year's DLX' venues was canceled the next day due to what dancers did to it the previous night. I don't know if it was duct tape or not. However, us dancers need to be considerate to the floors we dance on.
Wow... obviously it's not good to have the adhesive residue on your floor.
That being said, I also see a lot of people who bring talcum powder to dances. Admittedly nowadays a lot of "floor managers" really are telling people not to powder their shoes prior to dancing. Obviously powdering one's shoes makes it a bit easier to slide in, but I guess it's not good for the floor?
One of our Lindy venues has a dance floor that is rather beat-up, so I'm not worried about wearing my regular walking sneakers on it. I noticed a couple of these lines of white powder one on edge, but it took me a month before it hit me what that stuff was.
One night, one of the long-time local teachers was doing this really great all-out shadow Charleston when her foot hit a powdery spot (not the line itself, fortunately) and she very nearly fell flat on her face. Instead, even though her foot did a nasty slip, she caught herself with the other foot and recovered without missing a beat. If it had been a person of lesser skill and experience (ie, the vast majority of us there), then that would have been a rather nasty injury accident.
I have a definite opinion about powdering the dance floor.
Things to carry with you to a dance on a regular basis:
- dance floor wax, cornstarch, powder (you are free to carry this with you if you'd like, but I'd hesitate to spread it on the dance floor, for it generally makes serious dancers and club owners want to kill you!)
Dance wax - One need only think back to the Pet Rock to realize that anything can be sold to anyone who doesn't know any better. That hardly qualifies a product for endorsement. The need for dance floor wax usually is a result of wearing improper boots or shoes for dancing. I have watched in horror as people in tennis shoes or old worn out boots spread every form of "wax" on the floor to try to solve a problem that really doesn't exist. For some reason, many dancers don't seem to consider dance floors in the same category as basketball courts and would be outraged to be forced to buy 'special' shoes for dancing. It's a shame. Dance shoes are light-weight and comfortable. They need extra care to keep the chrome suede sole effective but they do smooth out the differences between floors in different states of repair and care. Dance floor "wax" is not a "wax" and is a hazard to anyone who wears proper footwear to dance in. Before spreading some foreign substance on a dance floor, one might consider that, in this age of lawsuits, it might be very costly to be found guilty of contributory negligence when a dance teacher, competitor, or trained dancer hurts himself due to something being placed on the floor that does not "naturally" belong on the floor. The only question to be settled in an action like this is... "who put it there, and with who's permission?" I personally stay off of floors that have been sabotaged like this. But then, I'm not into lawsuits. Don't risk your financial future betting that everyone comes from this point of view. It is easy to solve the problem without "dance floor wax." Wear proper footwear and you too can spin like a top and dance like you want to, without endangering others. I am a professional dance teacher, I teach dance in nightclubs, and I dance on all kinds of floors. I have watched people get sued for this very act. I have read insurance policies that prohibit the use of "floor wax" and I know first hand how dangerous this can be. Unfortunately, not everyone has had the opportunity to slip and fall on a dance floor. Just remember, not everyone wears street shoes for dance. If the floor is sticky, clean it instead of putting more junk on it. I encourage others who have had bad experiences with foreign substances on the floor to help beginning dancers understand that the floor is not bad, it is the shoes. Most dance professionals do not prefer a fast floor or a slow floor, but would instead prefer a floor that reacts with the proper amount of speed and grab to allow PROPER footwear to adequately support the body in flight. The bottom line is that dance floor "wax" is dangerous and unnecessary. I have had to dance on grass, carpet, gym floors, etc. If you cannot dance without putting something on the floor, get some training. Ask yourself why don't we use silicone on the floor? Silicone is REALLY SLICK. Your dance floor "wax" is like silicone to anyone who knows how to move their own body.
Industrial strength duct tape (http://www.survival-gear.com/duct-tape.htm) - the ultimate improvisational tool. It's said that if you can't fix it with duct tape, then it can't be fixed. I hear sections cut from the old 8" floppy disks make great dance shoe soles. There's some special lubricant on them so that they can rotate in the envelope, that provides just the right stick/slip for dancing on the institutional tile floor of the lobby of your typical university computer science building
Well, if we're going to raise this one for the dead, the correct tape to use is gaffer's tape. It looks like duct tape, but with one very important difference: gaffer's tape is fabric tape, make with cotton cloth and duct tape is reinforced vinyl tape.
Gaffer's will slide, duct tape, not so good.
I know this because I first started group lessons using a pair of sneakers with the rubber sole covered with wide gaffer's tape to "convert" it to something like suede soles. It actually works, but it won't last as well as regular dance shoes.
Like mentioned before, duct tape is easy fix for shoes. However, I personally found it doesn't work very well for me. However, if you go into one of the smaller shoe/cobbler shops, I've found they'll put suede/leather on any pair of shoes you bring for a reasonable price. Last time I did it though was in 2002, and was around $25. Might be a bit more, but still less expensive then "official" store bought swing shoes or vintage.