First of all think about comfort and support. The shoes should provide you with good arch support and they also need to hold you up – especially if you are a lady. Avoid shoes with sharp edges that will press on your ankle and make sure that there are not any seams on the inside that can chafe your skin after long hours of practice.
Secondly, think about where you want to use your shoes. And by this, I mean what type of dance floor you are going to dance on, in order to buy shoes with the proper sole. Some brands offer you the possibility of custom -making your shoes and thus, you can choose among leather, suede and synthetic soles. In general, suede and leather soles are the most popular ones. If you are going to dance only on wooden dance floors then suede soles may be better for you. If you tend to dance whenever you get the chance, then there is a high chance that the floor is not wooden, therefore, you might consider a leather sole that is generally more durable. Leather soles tend to be more slippery, but are a good alternative.
Decide on the height of the heel you are comfortable with. Men’s dance shoes tend to have either 1 to 1 1/2 inch heels. Do choose the higher heel only if you have a bit of experience in dancing, as they require better balance, especially during spins and turns. Women’s dance shoes come with heels that generally range between 1 1/2 to 3 inches. The lower ones are mostly for practice or for girls and teenagers. The standard women’s latin/ballroom heels are 2 1/2 inches high. Women’s tango shoes tend to have 3 inch-high heels.
Pick the style that suits you. Women’s latin and ballroom shoes tend to be higher with a slim or flare heel and a much more flexible sole for all that fast twisting footwork. There are open toe styles and closed toe styles to choose from. From my experience as a teacher I found out that although the closed toe shoes give you extra protection when stepped on, women usually go for the open-toe shoes (sandals). With open-toe shoes it is crucial that your toes do not touch the floor while dancing, or you will end up with bruised and sore toes and toe-nails. One woman may have longer toes than another and even though both may wear the same street shoe size, when choosing the open-toe dance shoe, problems arise. Be careful as some brands give you the opportunity to buy shoe models with soles that have either a C-shape or an A-shape at their front end.
Buying the right pair of shoes from the Internet
I believe that quite a few of us Internet surfers-dancers have, at some point, bought a pair of dance shoes from the Internet. However, I am sure that sometimes we have made a wrong choice, either in the quality or the size of the shoe.
This problem arises from the fact that the photos of the shoes that shoe dealers provide may not actually tell the “complete story” about the quality of the product. Therefore, you may buy a pair of dance shoes that look great but once you have them delivered…what a disappointment!!! The product has almost nothing to do with what is shown in the photo. And by this, I do not mean that you receive something that you have not ordered. I just want to state that the photo cannot provide you with all the details needed and cannot by any means replace the sense of touch. Consequently, when you hold the product in your hands, you may feel that the raw material, i.e., leather, rubber, plastic etc., is not of high quality and you may find manufacturing flaws and defects, bad stitching, sawing, gluing etc.
In order to avoid that problem, try to buy from websites that provide detailed photos and zoom aspects of the product, so that you can have a detailed view of the shoe. Another good tip, but not always possible, is to find the shoe model that you like in a store, where you can examine it first hand and why not try it on.
The second problem concerns the shoe size. Although all the websites provide info and shoe size converters or conversion charts, shoe size converted from one country’ size may not correspond to your size. Also, certain models run smaller than street shoes and you may need to buy 1 1/2 or even 2 sizes up your street shoe size.
The best solution to that problem is to buy from websites that accept detailed measurements of your feet and either manufacture custom-made shoes, or send you the appropriate size. Another tip, though not always possible, is to go out and try the shoe model in a store that sells dance apparel and be certain about the shoes size that you need. You can also try the shoe of a fellow dancer, check whether it suits you and then order it off the Internet.
From my personal experience, I found out that once I’ve bought the shoe model that suits me perfectly, I rarely change it. I have bought 4 pairs of the same model of dance sneakers so far! If you are extremely satisfied with that model why bother changing it? Having said that, I do not mean that I will not try out new products, but as far as a specific, or similar model – of the same brand, is concerned, I can order it with my “eyes shut”. Finally, the best tips are obvious: the more experience you acquire, the fewer the mistakes; and try to read as many reviews of the product as possible, not all of them will help you, but there may be some crucial ones!
Wishing you the best of luck in your dance shoe quest!