Never underestimate the power of the humble shoe.
It can make or break your dancing technique, especially if you’re just starting out.
When it comes to finding the perfect shoe for Latin dancing, one size doesn’t fit all (pun intended).
It’s fine to wear everyday shoes, if you don’t want to fork out the cash for dance shoes while sussing out your commitment level. There are a few rules to follow though, since not any shoe will do. In fact, the wrong choice can kill your relationship with dancing before you’ve given it a chance to flourish.
If you’ve been stomping around your class like a baby elephant learning how to walk, your shoes could be to blame.
As a general guide, it’s best to stay away from:
Save these shoes for a night out with your friends, but don’t bring them to class. The last thing you want is to trip mid-pivot as your shoe slides off your foot. You need a shoe that is secure and won’t fly off as you shake your thing.
In most social situations, these glamorous shoes can feel like a girl’s best friend, because of the high level of support they provide. But don’t be fooled, this can be deceiving. When it comes to Latin dancing, platforms are your foe, not your friend.
You need to be able to bend and move your feet, which is tricky to do in platforms, since the soles are hard and inflexible. It’s also difficult to accurately gauge your foot placement, since the bottom of your shoe hits the floor a lot faster than your foot – which throws off your timing and balance.
Thongs and strapless sandals
Not only are these shoes too casual for Latin dancing, they also lack the right traction for spinning and provide zero support to your feet as you move around. This puts you at risk of twisting your ankle or tripping. And you’re better off not exposing your toes in beginner classes, especially if your partner is struggling to navigate their way around the dance floor without stepping on your feet.
Chunky shoes (heavy boots, running shoes etc.)
If you’re wearing heavy shoes, spare a thought for your partner, whose toes may fall in the line of fire. Spare a thought for your dancing technique too, which is compromised by your inability to glide across the floor like a swan. Chunky shoes restrict movement, making it impossible to master the many pivots, turns and weight shifts that characterise Latin dancing.
These shoes also have too much grip, which can cause your feet to stick to the floor and lead to injury.
How do you strike the right balance?
The perfect latin dance shoe must be supportive, but not so supportive that it restricts movement. It must be flexible, but not too flexible that it soars off your feet during your first sombrero.
In our next post we’ll show you how to find the Goldilocks of the shoe world, to help you start off on the right foot.
If you are thinking about starting latin dance classes you must read our Latin Dance Styles 101!
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