Ballroom Dancing - Let's Talk Shoes

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alan gyllenhaal

May 11, 2009, 10:10:17 PM5/11/09
to dancejag

I often hear the question - 'What kind of shoes should I wear to dance
in? It's my opinion that the very best choice are those designed
especially for ballroom dancing and even more specifically for the
exact dance style you plan to be doing. But until such time as you
decide to reward yourself with that sexy strappy Latin shoe with the
Cuban heel, or a gorgeous sequined number for the elegant waltz,
practicing in street shoes is perfectly acceptable.
Now...having said that, let me quickly add that not just any street
shoe will do. Styles that should be avoided include anything with
rubber soles, like sneakers, (they just don't give you the slide you
need on the floor), open-toes (for obvious reasons, you're still
learning and chances are so is your partner), such as sandals or
(heaven forbid) flip-flops! And yes, I've actually seen people show up
for class wearing flip flops! Try to execute a double spin in those!
But, if you have a leather soled shoe, such as a loafer-type, or for
men, a dress shoe style, these will usually accomodate you nicely. The
most important factor is that they must be comfortable and not tight
on your feet. If your feet are aching, you'll soon be unable to focus
on anything else.
The dance floor itself plays a part in the comfort level of your feet.
Some studios have the proper flooring for dancing, which usually
includes a cushiony, almost spring-like underflooring. This type floor
enables dancers to dance for hours without feeling much effect...IF
their shoes are also adequately comfortable. But some dance studios
are built on a concrete slab, with only a layer of hardwood over it,
and on those floors your poor feet will take a pounding.
When the time comes that you decide to invest in a good pair of dance
shoes, shop around a bit. Prices and styles vary and the selection is
almost endless. Prices can range from $30-50 on the low end to well
over $200 on the high end. Dance shoes are designed not only to be
best suited for dancing, but to enhance the overall aesthetics of your'll simply look better out there on the floor.
Many of the features of dance shoes serve practical purposes. The
ankle straps are not just eye-appealing, they actually help your feet
stay firmly in your shoes. Some of the pump styles have elasticized
rims on the uppers which 'hugs' the shoe to your foot. The heels are
different heights and widths, depending on the style of dance they're
designed for. The soles are typically suede, which gives you the
ability to literally 'glide' as you dance across the floor, and are
especially helpful when doing turns and spins. To preserve the life of
these suede soles, dance shoes should never be worn outside. Two other
accessories that will extend the wear of your dance shoes - a carrying
case for transporting them, and a sole brush to lift the nap of the
suede every couple of weeks or so.
One final note - dance shoes (or any other shoe, for that matter)
should be tried on in the late afternoon or evening, when your feet
are typically at their largest. You'll be requiring a lot of your feet
over the span of your dancing experience...treat them right, dress
them properly and you'll have a great foundation on which to build a
lifetime of ballroom dancing.
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