It’s an exciting moment when you buy your very first pair of real dance shoes. It’s like going from being a person who dances to a honest-to-goodness dancer! Anyone who has shopped for dance shoes though knows that finding the right pair of shoes isn’t always easy. Different brands fit differently, and just because others love a specific brand doesn’t mean that brand’s shoes will fit your feet. I remember shopping for a pair of Latin shoes and trying on different brands. It was interesting to me to see how one popular brand didn’t fit the heel of my foot, no matter which style I tried.
If you’re in the market for a new pair of dance shoes, then please check out this guest article by Tina Lee-Almazar of Yami Dance Shoes! She provides some great insight and tips into what to look for when shopping for dance shoes. Happy (and pain-free) dancing!
Latin dance shoes come in every design imaginable – strappy, stilettos, booties, and peep-toes. They look like shoes you’d wear to a party or club, but Latin dance shoes are more flexible, unlike regular shoes.
Instead of rubber soles, Latin dance shoes and social dance shoes have soft, suede, or microfiber soles so you can execute those breathtaking spins and tight turns smoothly. The flexible foot bed lets you perform fancy footwork without restriction, allowing you to point those toes and achieve the perfect form.
Let’s say you’re ready to buy your first pair of Latin dance shoes; what’s the most important thing to consider as you shop around? For most of us, the style, the color, and the heels are some of the things that should be considered when shopping for shoes. Sure, these factors are definitely important, the shoes should suit the look you’re going for. But, the fit — this will make or break the performance of the shoes.
Dance shoes could either enhance or restrict movement. It can affect a dancer’s body in many ways. And ill-fitting shoes can be very dangerous.
The Dangers of Ill-Fitting Dance Shoes
Dancers, just like athletes, need the right gear to dance freely and safely. The feet should be pain-free and unrestricted while dancing. If the shoes are too tight, the dancer won’t be able to stretch, point, and take a step without pain. The material could chafe the skin, causing everything from small cuts and bruises to callouses.
Landing on your feet may lead to injury because of how the shoes impact the dancer’s feet. You could sprain your ankles or, at the very least, suffer from painful arches, which will keep you from performing your best. Ill-fitting shoes could also lead to common foot disorders like bunions, hammertoe, mallet toe, and bone spurs.
How to Tell if the Shoes aren’t the Right Fit
Did you know that about two-thirds of people wear shoes that are either too tight or too loose? Although Latin dance shoes should fit like a glove, there is a fine line between a snug fit and a tight fit. The most common fitting issues in shoes are:
- The toe box is too narrow
- The toe box is not high enough
- The shape of the shoes does not fit the feet
- The height of the heels causes pain in the arches and balls of the feet
- The uppers are too narrow
If you cannot stretch your toes, if they overlap each other, or feel like they’re being jammed in a tight space, then the shoes are too tight. If you have to move the toes forward because they keep turning towards either side, you’re wearing the wrong shoes. There should always be tiny slices of space between each toe. The shoes should have room for the toes to stretch forward and move around.
If certain areas of the fit start chafing because the material is too taut and no amount of breaking in could soften the material, the shoes are too tight. If the forefoot feels like it’s jammed to the shoes and you can barely take a step without feeling pain, the shoes are too tight, or it’s the wrong shape for your feet.
What to Look for When Buying Dance Shoes
Snug Fit, Never Tight
Dance shoes should fit like a glove. It should be snug but never uncomfortable. The thing with Latin dance shoes is that the materials tend to stretch, they feel comfortable when new, but as you break them in, the fit will loosen.
Dance shoes, even when broken in, should fit snugly. But it shouldn’t dig into the skin nor have pressure points that cause cuts or bruises. The feet shouldn’t slip or slide; they should be grounded and balanced. If you have narrow or normal feet, you may have to go a size or two smaller than your average street shoe size.
Check the Shape and Style
The style of the shoes, as well as the shape, should fit your feet. If you have narrow feet, for example, then choose Latin dance shoes or social dance shoes with a slim design. If you have wide feet, you may have to order bigger than your usual street shoe size. Some dance shoes have orthopedic features to support high arches, low arches, and so on.
And here’s the thing, while some bachatera or salsera prefers a certain brand, not all styles will suit all foot shapes. Just because a certain shoe style fits a person with wide feet doesn’t mean it will fit your narrow feet or high arches. A T-strap looks good, but it’s not the best choice if you have a high arch. Strappy heels look great with party dresses, but the shoes could pop out while dancing if you have short toes. Yikes!
It’s challenging to find a style that works, so it’s essential to get to know your feet’ shape first and foremost. It’s also helpful to ask the brand rep of the shoe company first, especially if you’re buying online and unsure what shoe style fits your shape.
A Flared, Short Heel to Start
Dancing in high heels looks effortless for Beyoncé, but real life just does not work that way. When in heels, much of the body weight is concentrated on the balls of the feet. The longer you dance, the more agonizing the heel pain will be. It takes a long time and a lot of practice to become comfortable dancing in heels.
If you love the look of high heels, you can certainly dance in them, but you have to train for it. We suggest starting with a 2 to 2 ½ flared, short heel to start. When you’ve become comfortable dancing in short heels, you can work your way up to 3 to 4 inches and beyond.
Suede or Microfiber Soles
One of the most apparent differences between regular shoes and dance shoes is the soles. Regular walking shoes have rubber soles, while most dance shoes have suede or microfiber soles. The material provides the right slip and traction; it lets you make those sweet glides and tight turns on the dance floor. The suede or microfiber soles also give more control as you move around the dance floor. Rubber soles tend to be too grippy; it’ll be hard to glide or turn if the material adheres to the floor.
Open Toe or Closed Toe?
It depends on the dance style. Open-toe dance shoes are best for Latin dance styles that require toe pointing and articulation of the feet. We’re talking about salsa, rumba, swing, etc. Open-toe shoes are perfect for these dance styles because they provide a flattering leg line and offer freedom of movement. For ballroom dancing, it’s traditional to wear closed shoes. Dances like waltz and foxtrot don’t require a lot of toe pointing; these are smooth dances, so closed shoes won’t feel too limiting.
In-Person or Online Shopping?
You can buy Latin dance shoes at a physical store or online. Whatever works for you, be sure to measure your feet first so you’ll find the perfect size. Sizing will vary from brand to brand, so it’s necessary to measure your feet using a tape measure and compare different models.
More Shoe Shopping Tips
- Always check the return policy before making a purchase, especially if you are buying shoes online
- If you are suffering from a foot disorder like bunions or hammertoe, opt for orthopedic shoes or shoes that are designed specifically for your foot problem
- If you have wide feet, you might need dance shoes in your average shoe size or one to two sizes bigger than your usual shoe size
- Dance shoes with a roomy toe box are more comfortable for dancing, and ideally, the shape should match your foot
- Find a brand that suits your shape
Comfort is a must when shopping for a pair of social dance shoes. That’s why it’s essential to take your time, shop around, and compare to find a style and brand that suits your specific needs. Latin dance shoes come in various types, but not all of these styles work for certain people. These shoes aren’t exactly cheap, so it helps to be as selective as possible to find the perfect fit.
About Yami Dance Shoes
Yami Dance Shoes is an Atlanta-based shoe brand that specializes in comfortable Latin dance shoes and social dance shoes. We offer a full line of intuitively designed, shock-absorbing dance shoes because every dancer deserves comfy dance shoes at a fair price.
Tina Lee-Almazar is the head writer for Yami Dance Shoes, a brand that specializes in Latin dance shoes and social dance shoes for men and women. When she’s not writing, she is busy gardening and cleaning after two toddlers.