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Dance Shoes: Partner with the Right Pair
Once you’ve picked a dance style, you’ll want shoes to match. Use Groupon’s guide to partner-dance shoes to get your career started on the right foot.
On the dance floor, gym shoes can turn into troublemakers. Even though they’re designed for activity, their rubber soles can stick on dance floors and cause knee injuries or spontaneous outbreaks of dodge ball. On the other hand, everyday women’s heels aren’t supportive enough to cushion feet for hours of foxtrotting. That’s why professional dancers wear specially designed shoes, often slipping on a new pair as they switch to dances such as the waltz and the tango.
Ballroom shoes: The most important part of a standard ballroom shoe is invisible. Running down the center of the shoe and into the heel, the steel shank offers more support than regular shoes to allow for hours of dancing. Both men’s and women’s versions of the shoe should have a steel shank and a small heel, and both are typically closed-toed. Beginning male dancers usually start with a standard ballroom shoe, due to its low heel and wide base.
Latin shoes: Although Latin-dance shoes also sport a steel shank, they feature higher heels—up to 2.5 inches for men and 3.5 inches for women. These taller, thinner heels help dancers achieve the posture they need for the tight turns and footwork of the cha-cha and the samba. Regardless of their chosen dance style, beginning female dancers should consider starting with open-toed Latin shoes with heels no higher than 2.5 inches to help them more easily adjust to the intricate steps of partner dances.
Swing shoes: Heels provide little advantage in swing dancing, which often calls for acrobatic lifts and turns. This informal and improvisational dance style calls for shoes to match—many swing dancers apply suede soles to a pair of everyday tennis shoes. But swing-specific shoes hit the market recently, most featuring two-tone, retro styles and suede or hard leather bottoms that allow for easy spinning and sliding.
Practice sneakers: These may be the best bet for dancers more interested in social than competitive dancing, or for those exploring several dance styles. Practice shoes look much like regular cloth sneakers, with flat heels and slip-on or lace-up styles, but they don’t have rubber soles. Available for men and women, these casual kicks may also be worn for most jazz and hip-hop classes.
With all dance shoes, it’s important that the fit be snug but not too tight. Dance shoes should never be worn outside the studio or their soles could become dirty, scuffed, or nibbled by squirrels when you’re not looking. Before your first class, it’s a good idea to call ahead and ask what shoes would be appropriate to wear; the instructor may be able to suggest a few brands available nearby.