This is a question I am asked a lot. What should I wear to my first dance class, or, when should I buy shoes for dance, is it necessary?
Whether you are dancing salsa, bachata or any other kind of dance, my advice always is based around how much you intend to dance.
If you have completed more than 6 weeks of dance lessons and you intend to continue going regularly to dance lessons or dance regularly at the social evenings and parties, I would definitely suggest to you to buy some dancing shoes.
In the beginning of your “dance journey”, while you are learning the foundation steps, it is perfectly acceptable to wear something you already have, preferably with a smooth sole to make your movements (and spins) a little easier! After a certain point, you decide to make the commitment and you’ve caught the “salsa fever” – it’s time to make the plunge!
What are the benefits of dance shoes?
This pair of shoes is a special pair of shoes, a designated pair that you will ONLY wear during the dance class and the dance party. While salsa may have been born barefoot and on the beach, these days wearing proper dance shoes is a must for the regular dancer!
Why do I need them? Well, when you go to the gym, do you need to wear proper footwear for help you run or train better? The answer is the same for dancing – dance shoes are MADE FOR DANCE.
They are designed to give you comfort, support and endurance during dancing. You are spending long amounts of time on your feet and you need something that will also reduce the risk of injury.
Dance shoes have a flexible sole which give you full range of motion with your feet, and have a sole made of suede or leather that will help you spin with ease.
In Salsa, dancers are transferring the weight quickly from the ball of the foot to the heel, and back again. Salsa shoes will help you to achieve the correct stance and elongate the back, it will also lift the weight slightly towards the front of the foot, while still evenly distributing the weight across the foot. The cushioning and support helps to support arches, absorb shock and alleviate pressure.
Shoes do need to fit like a glove – too small and they will cause you pain, too big and they can be dangerous or cause a wobble when spinning or dancing!
Ladies Shoes & Heel Height
Our favourite topic! We are lucky because with dance shoes we have just about every colour and every style. Choices include open toe, closed toe, t-bar, strappy, sparkles, patterns, ankle boots, and high to low heels.
Ladies - if you can wear heels, please dance in heels!
If you are not used to wearing heels you can start small and build up. After you choose your pair, you should test them out in the classes before the party and bring a pair of lower or flat shoes for relief if you need it. Remember if you only only wear heels in the party all your steps will feel different and you be tired quickly.
The best choices for ladies are with a flared heel, which will give you height but also stability. And by the way ladies, if you’re going to a Lady-Styling class assume that you will be wearing your heel, to be safe bring some lower practice shoes with you as well if you need them.
Most manufacturers let you choose your heel height and width so check out when you are buying if you can. Buying in the store is great for try-before-you-buy, but buying online is great for bargins, always check the quality and bonus for free returns in case the size you choose isn’t quite right. I recommend having one practice pair and one for parties (and build up from there!).
For the gentlemen, life is a little easier!
You will just have to check that your shoes follow the requirements listed about and are of a high quality for longer lasting use.
There are many choices out there, we want to see your style.
I recommend a normal pair for practice and a pair for parties which are a lot more fancy.
Men can usually get away with your normal “street shoes” for longer (no sneakers) but if you want to grow as a dancer and reduce risk of injury definitely invest in a good quality pair.
Bonus tips for the guys – no Cuban heels, these are mostly reserved for performers and ballroom.
Tips on Shoe Care
Avoid getting the shoes wet, shoes made of satin and shoes with suede soles can be ruined by stepping on or spilling water and other liquids.
When the suede on the soles start to become flat and shiny, you will need to use a brush to clean and raise the suede again to give you a little texture and floor grip, you can do this with a suede shoe brush.
You can also purchase some heel protectors that will prolong the life of your shoes by preventing the heel wearing down so quickly.
Let your shoes air out at home when you don’t need them, we tend to get very hot while we dance.
Article and copyright written by Rhian Saunders