Why do I need dance shoes? What's wrong with my street shoes?
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 local shops that carry the right shoes. In addition, we also partner with a company that offers us a great discount that we are able to pass on to our clients. Click here for the BOGO shoe coupon.
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.
Properly taken care of, a good pair of shoes will last a long time. It's like putting good tires on your car. If you are investing in your dancing, invest in shoes.
Do I really need 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 all right 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.