As the salsa dance trend continues to heat up, the search for ever-better salsa ballroom dance shoes is on. Many dancers just use regular street shoes, especially the men, but if you’re serious about your dancing and your feet, you’ll want something built for the purpose.
Your Ideal Salsa Ballroom Dance Shoes
It’s not rocket science. For salsa, tango, swing or whatever kind of ballroom dance you’re into, your shoe should be comfortable and provide excellent support, as well as offering a sturdy flexible sole. Of course, the sort of sole needed depends upon the dance surface, so if you’re going to be dancing regularly, you want to know what sort of floor your favorite spot has before investing in shoes. A serious dancer will have several pairs of shoes with soles ranging from slippery to sticky. Smooth hard leather is the most slippery and rubber with some sort of design is the most sticky. You can compensate for floor deficiencies by carrying baby powder for very sticky floors and stick-on pads or a wire brush for slippery floors.
Buying Salsa Ballroom Dance Shoes
If you want high-quality, purpose-driven dancing shoes, look no further than Capezio. Purveyors of shoes and clothing for dancers since 1887, Capezio is famed throughout the dance world for the beauty and resilience of its products. Many big cities have Capezio stores, or dance shops that sell their shoes. You can certainly buy them online, but dancing shoes should ideally be fitted for you by a professional. If you have no other choice, however, go ahead and order online, bearing in mind that you might need to go a full size higher than your normal size because your feet swell when dancing.
Here are some choices Capezio offers in the way of salsa/ballroom dance shoes:
Latin T-Strap Sandal
A classic T-strap style with an open toe in full leather or satin. The shoe is cushioned and has a non-slip suede sole and 2 1/2-inch contoured heel. It's available in black, silver metallic, suntan and taupe, and costs approximately $77 to 105.
Available in black or suntan, the pump has a sexy X-strap, is fully lined and cushioned with a 2 1/2-inch contoured heel and a non-slip suede sole. It costs $48.
Available in full leather or satin, this open-toed, slinky T-strap boasts a 2 1/2-inch contoured Latina heel, fully flexible forepart, suede sole, lining and socklining. It comes in black or bronze satin and costs $102.
Almost the same as the 2.5, but with an extra half-inch to enhance the leg. It also comes in gold metallic.
The 1 1/2-inch heel makes this a good choice for more intricate footwork where sturdiness is required. Features an open toe, T-strap, cushioning and full leather with a non-slip suede sole. Available in black, suntan or taupe and costs $69 to $95.
A very elegant, sexy shoe with thin vamp straps, but designed for forefront comfort. Upper comes in either leather or satin. Sole is suede and the heel is 3 inches. Lining is full leather with sock and cushioned footbed. Features a rhinestone crusted buckle and a snakeskin print in black leather. Also comes in champagne and light bronze and costs $96. There is also a 2 1/2 inch version of this shoe.
Custom-made Salsa Ballroom Dance Shoes
If you’re dancing regularly and feel that no shoe you’ve used has been exactly right, consider getting a pair custom made. If you don’t know of a reputable shoemaker, go to a salsa dance website and post an inquiry on the message board. Someone is bound to know of a good person in your area. The shoes will be expensive, but if you’re wearing them a few times a week, and especially if you’re looking to dance competitively, it’s more than worth it.
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Illustration from Clyde Mendes column at MetroSexual LA