Dancing is considered a sport for many people and as such, it is important to have the right footwear. Having danced for an entire year using the ‘wrong’ kind of shoes, I can tell you that it makes a world of difference to have the proper footwear. This short guide will discuss common injuries due to improper footwear, types of shoes and how dance floors can affect the type of shoes you choose to wear.
Using incorrect foot wear is a double edged sword. For one, it puts a tremendous amount of pressure on your knees and joints. Most shoes, that beginners wear, such as sneakers or casual shoes, tend to stick to the floor. This friction causes pressure during spins and other types of moves. Secondly, shoes influence your dancing style! It may be hard to believe, but take a look at people who wear running shoes to class vs. those that wear jazz flats or dance sneakers. These dancers exhibit very different body movement. If you are trying salsa for the first time, then any type of footwear is okay, but if you are seriously considering lessons, then give some thought to the types of shoes you can wear.
Dance shoes, like any type of sport equipment, comes in many different styles. It is up to you to find what you feel most comfortable wearing and using on a day to day basis when dancing salsa. I personally have a pair of smooth rubber casual shoes and two pairs of pumas with suede bottoms. The following are some of the styles and where you can purchase them.
Dance sneakers can be easily recognized by the split sole design. There is no support in the middle of the shoe to allow the foot to bend freely while dancing. Due to its design, there is more support in the front around the toes and ball of the foot and the back near the heel of the foot. Purchase: online, dance store or at salsa congresses
Jazz flats are a good choice for wearing to practice as they feel light, have good arch support and slide across various surfaces. They are relatively inexpensive compared to other types of shoes, but be warned, that may not last as long due to their construction. Purchase: online, dance store or at salsa congresses.
Many vendors, such as BalloShoes (http://www.balloshoes.com) specialize in salsa footwear that is comfortable for dancing. These shoes have the right type of cushioning and a suede sole bottom for easy movement. With proper care, these shoes can last for a few years. Purchase: online, dance store or at salsa congresses
“Augmented“ Casual Shoes is a category of shoes that most salseros do not use, but I personally like. The approach may not provide the lightest footwear, but will provide a larger variety of styles of equal or better construction to most dancing shoes. It basically involves finding a good pair of casual sneakers and getting a shoe repair store to machine the bottom of the sole and replace it with a suede bottom. This will typically run $40-$50 plus the cost of purchasing the shoe itself. Keep the receipt handy, as sometimes the shoe repairman will not be able to machine grind the sole of the shoe easily. In order for the suede to be applied, the sole of the shoe must be perfectly flat. Some hard rubber can not be machined properly in order to glue on the suede.
Purchase: shoe store + show repair store
Sometimes, especially in crowded clubs, or a night on the town, you may want to be prepared to dance salsa, but not have to carry your jazz flats. In these cases, having a pair of casual dress shoes are a life saver. There is not specific brand here, just go shopping and check the soles of the shoes. They should not contain any thick rubber and have a flat smooth leather sole. Try to avoid rubber soles at all costs since they will stick to most floors.
From congresses to clubs to socials, every floor will have a different level of grip. Although footwear plays an important part, good dancers will be able to adjust their styles to varying floor conditions.
Wood Floors, provide the best environment for salsa dancing. In most venues, such as salsa socials, wooden floors provide the right level of grip and comfort for all types of foot wear. Some venues, where there is a lot of outside food traffic tends to create dusty wooden floors. In these cases, dancing with suede shoes is near impossible and it will be too slippery.
Concrete/Gym Floors are hit and miss. Some floors are quite good in terms of grip, others (when not properly ventilated) tend to stick to your shoes and make it difficult to move.
Carpet floors which many dancers at congresses dance on restrict movement a great deal. Carpet will also wear out your suede bottom shoes rather quickly. It is best if you use shoes with leather soles on hard carpet.
There are many other points to consider when going out dancing and the type of floor you will encounter. Bars and clubs may not be as welcoming to suede bottom shoes, so it might be a good idea to wear dress shoes with a bottom that can slide. Socials may be hot and heated, so if the floor is linoleum or concrete, rubber soles will stick. In these cases, dance shoes are a must. On the opposite side of the scale, some wooden floors may be really slippery because of dust etc.. so wearing dance shoes will make you look like a ice hockey player.
A rule of thumb is to always leave a good pair of dance shoes in the trunk or frequent a venue where you know how the floor will be like. Experience pays off in these circumstances, so ask other dancers – “how is the floor there?”. Most people will tell you if it is difficult to move or is not of a good quality.
Hopefully this guide has educated you on the different aspects to consider when choosing footwear.
– Salsaria Team