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Dance Shoes

Why do I need special shoes for dancing?

You may have noticed by now that your sneakers or comfortable shoes don't seem to work very well for ballroom dancing. Most partner dances have some pivoting. If your shoes are too sticky, at best it will put a strain on your knees and ankles, at worst you risk a sprain or other injury. But if your shoes are too slippery, you will have a tough time keeping your balance on a quick turn. That's why you might want special shoes. From the perspective of the place at which you are dancing, they might not appreciate it if you wear shoes that cause too much damage to the floor or leave scuff marks.

A simple test for shoes

Spin around 360 degrees on one foot. If it's hard to get around, your shoes are too sticky. If you have a tough time keeping your balance when you get around, your shoes are probably too slippery. Of course, this assumes that you could keep your balance in the right pair of shoes. 

Ballroom Dance Shoes

Ballroom dance shoes are specially designed for dancing. The steel shank provides an appropriate amount of support, and they are much more flexible than regular shoes. They have a suede sole (known as chrome leather), which gives just the right amount of traction to allow your feet to slide around a good hardwood floor without going out of control.

Ballroom dance shoes will cost in the neighborhood of $100 and up. 

What shoes to wear where?

Unfortunately, chrome leather soles are rather sensitive to environmental stresses, like water, tar, oil, spilt beer, etc. As such, their use is normally restricted to ballroom dance venues. For such dance spots as night clubs, cafeterias with linoleum or concrete floors, outdoor dance parties, etc., a pair of leather-soled dress shoes may be preferable.

Dress shoes

Dress shoes with smooth leather soles can be adequate for dancing, depending on the floor and the shoes. Some shoes might need some scuffing up of the bottom to make them more non-slip. Dress shoes might also be somewhat stiff for dancing, and could result in sore feet after several hours. The advantage is that there is no need to change from street shoes to dance shoes and back.

Dance Sneakers

Capezio and Bloch both make sneakers for dance. They have a polyurethane split sole, which provides lots of flexibility, and they are quite comfortable. They work well for the most part for latin and rhythm dances on hardwood, but they may be too sticky for smooth dances, where you need to slide your foot along the floor, and they also may be too sticky for linoleum floors for any dance. There may also be some differences in the amount of stickiness based on the body weight of the person wearing them, so some experimentation may be appropriate.