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Good Dance Shoes: What to Look For

Updated: Apr 1

Here's a secret: I've worn street heels to teach dance and at dance socials for years. Ross and TJ Maxx are my go-to 😉 When I travel abroad I also scour the local shops and I've found amazing shoes at Brunna in Portugal and Italian-made shoes in Paris! There are definitely characteristics I look for in regular street heels as well as professional dance shoes. Recently, I've discovered one brand of professional dance shoes that are so worth it. Read below for my list of what to look for in a perfect dance shoe.

Best dance shoe (at least it's my favorite!)

After 15 years of social dancing, here's the one professional shoe brand that really impressed me. To underscore how impressed I am with this shoe and brand: the strap on a pair of $80 dance shoes from a "professional" brand broke only a couple of months after I bought them in 2015. Since then, I'd held a policy not to purchase any professional dance shoe unless I was thoroughly convinced. For years I would window shop shoes at dance congresses, in dance shops and dance studios and was never convinced. To make my choices even narrower; for dance shoes I have an extra criteria. I must be able to dance all the styles that I love, from Salsa, Bachata, Kizomba, UrbanKiz and Tango.

After years of not purchasing dance shoes, I'm at a dance congress drawn to this dance bootie:

Firstly, it's gorgeous. This dance shoe model meets all of the criteria for dancing. All of them. Including the versatility to dance Tango, Salsa, Bachata, Kizomba, Urbankiz.

In my eavesdropping, I hear the owner, Erica, speaking to a potential buyer next to me about how she manufactures them with a thin, metal lining of about a few centimeters wide in the suede shoe... which means... even more stability!

I was finally convinced. It's perfect - the best dance shoe I could find. And that day I bought a pair of professional dance shoes for the first time in years.

Stop struggling while you're dancing. If you're struggling you're not having fun. You're not looking and feeling great.

What I look for in a perfect dance shoe

  1. No platform heels: If I can't feel the floor I feel unstable. So I avoid platforms. Also, most platform heels have a sole so stiff, making it nearly impossible to bend and point your foot, which is bad technique.

  2. Wraps: The sides and top of my foot should have straps or material, creating a snug fit. This often translates into either a heel shoe with many straps or a boot-style.

  3. Appropriate heel height: Enough said. I've got to try them on and if the heel is so high that it pushes my head and weight forward, it's going to unbalance me while dancing and that's a no-no. Stilettos are too high, for example.

  4. Thin heels: Trust me. Chunky heels get in the way. Try turning in a chunky heel and stepping back into your basic and you'll see what I mean. It's clunky and not graceful and if you kick or step on yourself it hurts more than a stiletto.

  5. A sole that glides: No rubber soles. Even if I'm going to dance in flats, I look for soles that slide easily because your foot may have great grip, but your upper body is going in the opposite direction when you're turning. Your knees get the brunt of this twist. This goes for all genders and all roles (lead or follow).

  6. Cushioning! If you can find a street shoe to dance in that meets all of the criteria AND is cushioned, you've got a great deal! However, you can always add cushioning! Here's a blog post on self-care for dancers' feet.

Get some shoes that will allow you to dance all night.


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