Passionata Dance Classes – Salsa, Bachata, Merengue, Tango and Bridal Dance

Guide to choosing dance shoes

Passionata’s Guide to Dance Shoes

Being a dance teacher, I get asked question about shoes from students about how to choose good shoes. There are some good and bad criteria for choosing shoes and to generally depends what sort of dancing you will be doing. Here is a rough guide on what to look for in a dance shoe according to the style.

Salsa, Cha Cha and Latin Styles.

Latin dance shoe - Open Toe Sandal

Latin Open Toed Sandal

Salsa/Latin Dance shoes need good arch support and a heel that is medium end with a stocky point. People usually buy heel protectors so they protect the original heel from abrasion that may cause an imbalance.Some people prefer closed toe shoes as they anticipate people stepping on their toes. Some people prefer the open toe latin sandals since they look alot nicer and a woman can accentuate her colored toe nails.

The worst type of dance shoes for Salsa Obviously are sandals, from my experience someone is better off dancing barefoot as when you do turns the risk of destroying the sandal is high. Ballet Flats are also suitable as long as they are fitted and the sole is not too grippy. Suede covered on the bottom are ideal for salsa on wooden or vinyl floors. Some people swear by jazz boots, but I think they look real ugly personally. A nice ladies shoe for salsa is a ballroom stiletto  made for latin dance competitions.


mens latin dance shoe

Mens Latin shoe with Cuban heel. Patent Leather (Shiny)

For men, They have two main styles of dance shoes, Black Leather(Matte),  Patent Leather (Shiny), or Rock and Roll shoes (Black and White). The heel may be low or high Cuban heels recommended for dancing Latin. The point of latin dancing is to push the foot down into the ground with a lot of weight so a balanced strong shoe is needed. The Ability to twist the shoe from it’s spine is also valued for pushing the feet on angles required for latin. You’ll notice the sides curve all the way around to the base for this. The bottom is suede to allow for optimum sliding and grip on dance floor when needed. A metallic scraping brush is required to maintain these shoes since dancing in a club environment is know to attract dirt residue after dancing.

Generally what to look for:

– Ladies: Look for a dance shoe that has good arch support contoured to the arch of your foot. Stocky base tapering out at the base. Suede sole. Color that you can be happy with, These shoes tend to get dirty and need to be replaced. For extra foot support use gel padding.

– Men, Latin Cuban heel, makes you look taller, Soft exterior. Choose the design you like, Black leather, patent leather or Rock and roll shoes.

Ballroom Standard – Waltz and Foxtrot, Quick step and Ballroom Tango.

Ballroom standard require more graceful and flowing movements from the ankles, Therefore the shoe is completely different from latin shoes. The dance shoe needs to be soft and easy to slide, glide and sway.

ladies standard dance shoe

Standard Ballroom shoe, High front to prevent incline of partners foot. Closed toe, Small and short heel base for reaching back.

Ladies need to look for dance shoes that are pointed with a high front to help the man not glide up onto her foot and step his weight down. Closed toe shoes look classier for ballroom gowns. The shoe is also flexible, the arch support only extends halfway, for the rest from the ball to toe area allows for flexibility to tip toe and reach.

The base is also suede for sliding on wooden floor, and the sides are curved for good stretching shapes with the side of the shoe.

Ladies need to reach backwards with their heel like a bear paw, so a short base without much stock is required.

Hybrid dance shoe for entry level dancers

Hybrid dance shoe for entry level dancers

There are hybrid shoes that can be used for both Latin and Standard too, so that women can have the best of both worlds.





mens standard dance shoe

Very Flat and flexible, little arch support and alot of flexibility to tip toe up and down.

The mens dance shoe is flat, with a soft flexible base, allowing for rise and fall, a low heel broad heel. Bottom is covered in suede and easy to maneuver and feel every bump on the ground.



Argentine Tango Shoes

Tango dance shoes are in a different category. They require a high front, Tall heels and decorative aspect. There are literally thousands of styles of tango shoe in comparison to the other dances. A shoe aficionado can spend hours and hours searching for a shoe that nobody else has and be very proud of it being complimented by other shoe lovers.

tango shoetango shoe2 tango red

Flamenco dance shoes

flammenco shoeFlamenco involves a lot of stomping so the shoe has to be study on the bottom and it is, with a heel full of nails to help it make sound, and has greater chance of destroying the dance floor. The tip and base are jam packed with nails so they can be tap shoes and produce the percussive tapping and stomps that are unique to flamenco dance.

flamenco shoes packed with nails

Flamenco shoes have nails in them on the bottom, bad news for wooden dance floors.

Samba Shoes

samba shoe

Tall stocky base, Extra ankle support, Decorative and Shiny to complement samba outfits. Samba requires a lot of fast movement and in upright position, This requires more ankle support and a very stable base on the front and back. The ladies should be able to step on the front of their foot or rest on the back heel.

There you have it, A basic guide on dance shoes, I hope it has helped you understand about dance and the functionality and practicality of their shoes. After that, the rest of the decision making is up to you with style, aesthetics and comfort.