Ballroom Dance Shoes: Choosing the Right StyleMen's dance shoes are typically black lace-up Oxfords with a flat heel for standard dances and a 1 to 2 inch heel for Latin dances.
For women, form is almost as important as function, and shoe styles are as varied as dance categories -- including Latin, swing, cha cha, foxtrot and waltz, to name a few.
Basic designs include open- or closed-toe pumps and sandals. Heels in women's shoes are slim or flared and generally range in height from 1 to 3 inches.
Slim heels make turns and other moves easier. Flared heels are preferred for the Latin dances because they provide more stability.
A Word on Women's ShoesWomen new to the world of ballroom dance may consider purchasing one pair of shoes that will work for a number dances -- typically a closed-toe pump with a 2 to 2.5 inch flared heel and an ankle strap. These are referred to as standard, court or modern dance shoes.
Latin dancers typically wear open-toed shoes or strappy sandals with a 3 inch flared heel. As you become more proficient, you can add more styles to your wardrobe.
Expect to spend about $100 for a good pair of ballroom shoes.
Ballroom dance shoes come in a variety of colors. Black is the most popular. Many women choose flesh-colored shoes, which help extend the leg line, for competitions.
Ballroom Dance Shoe ConstructionNon-slip soles are essential. Look for suede soles, which provide the right combination of grip and slide.
Rubber sneaker-like soles can stick to the floor and cause knee injuries, and leather soles can slide too much. Dance shoes have thinner soles than normal shoes. Most dancing shoes have a steel shank for support. The shoe material is flexible and lightweight.
For Ballroom Dancing, A Good Fit is EssentialChoose a snug, but not toe-crushing, fit. Try on several styles before purchasing. Shoes should be both comfortable and functional.
Buy in person the first time. An experienced salesperson can help you find the proper fit and style. Large cities, such as New York, have specialty shops. Ask your dance instructor or experienced dancers at your club where to buy locally.
Once you've found shoes you like and know what size you need, you can also purchase them online.
Maintenance and RepairDon't wear your ballroom dance shoes on the street. Rough surfaces and dirt will wear them out quickly. Carry them in a bag and put them on when you get to class or to the ballroom.
If you need your shoes repaired, call before you drop them off at your local shoemaker to be sure the shop is familiar with handling dance shoes.