Posted On 04/13/2017 by Juan de Dios Garcia

Dance Shoes with people dancing in the background

An evening out with my wife is always entertaining. We have a great time, but half the fun is figuring out what to wear. She usually goes through a plethora of outfits until she finds one she feels good in. And that's when the adventure begins. As the male species, I find it easy to pick a pair of shoes out. Whatever feels comfortable is usually my go to. However I've learned that the right shoe goes a long way. With my wife, we would possibly not attend an event because of the lack of having the right footwear. When asked "How do these shoes look?"  I get caught in the dilemma of answering "Those look fine. Let's go."  To which she replies "Fine?  I don't want fine. I want fabulous."  

When it comes to any sport, having the right shoe could possibly mean being more productive. Even Stephen Curry understands the importance of the right shoe. His new line may be perfect if you were being abducted by aliens, but serve their purpose nonetheless. A soccer player wears the right cleat.  The tennis player the right tennis shoe, the basketball player the right basketball shoe, the swimmer wears the right swim shoe. Get it. Swim shoe. Never mind. And the dancer should wear the right dance shoe.  Sometimes finding the right shoe could be a daunting task, believe me, it's easier than you think. If you're new to dancing or looking for your first pair, here's a list of things to think about when choosing the right dance shoe for you. 

WOMEN                                                             MEN          


  • If you're used to wearing heels, this is a no brainer. However, for those of us that don't, gradual is the key. Start with a lower heel then move up to a higher one.  Although a higher heel does elongate the leg, when just starting, a lower heel helps with balance while you learn.  2-1/2" is the avg size, but there are options for both lower and higher should you like. In addition, if you're dancing for long periods of time, you may want to invest in a lower heel. Your calves will thank you for it. 
  •  Men's shoes come in 2 different size heels. The Standard 1 inch is what you would normally find if you were shopping for a nice dress shoe. They provide good stability and perfect for everyday dancing use. A secondary 1-1/2 inch higher heel works great if you have a higher arch or if your focused on competing in the Latin dances as they help you pitch your body weight forward. That said, you may want to opt for the normal heel size as it will be similar to what you are experienced to already. 

OPEN VS. CLOSED                                         MATTE vs. shiny

  • Traditionally, an open toe shoe is designed for Latin/Rhythm or Spot dances while a closed toe shoe is designed for Standard/Smooth or Traveling dances. For dancers, an open toe shoe allows the foot to breathe a bit more. Although there is one baby toe that likes to escape every once in awhile. It doesn't hurt much, but a huge nuisance when it happens. Closed toe mimics a normal shoe and a great option if having your toes exposed is a bit weird for you. They also normally tend to run on the narrow side. So consider this when choosing your shoe.
  • Just like you have a sneaker for casual events and a dress shoe for classy events, a man has the option for both in dancing. A matte finish shoe usually works as a practice everyday pair. A patent leather shoe is much classier with its shiny look and feel (opt to get the shoe polish to keep them from sticking). A great option if you plan to join some of the studio events like Nights Out, Medal Ball, Holiday Ball, Showcase & Dance O Rama. If you had to start with one, go with the matte practice shoe. You can always opt for the shinier pair later.


  • If you are like my wife, you wouldn't mind sacrificing a couple hours of pain to look good. However, after a long day, there's nothing like putting on a nice comfy pair of dance shoes. Whatever your need, always have an option for whatever mood you're in. A comfy pair may not look the best but they certainly feel good. And a stylish pair, although look great, may be perfect for when you want to dress things up.  Who knows, you may be lucky and get a comfy stylish pair.
  • Nowadays there are a lot more options for style and comfort. There are even options for indoor/outdoor shoes if you plan on going out then taking a lesson at your local studio. Overall, you want to wear a pair that fits right and feels good. A comfy dance shoe support your feet, help you move better on the floor, can be used for almost any occasion and mold to your feet once broken in. In short, they get the job done. Stylish shoes are great if you're trying to suit up however may take more time to break in.
SUGGESTION:  Having 2 or more pairs runs standard for the ballroom dancer. A comfy pair for long nights (personal lesson, group, then party) and an elegant pair for events (nights out, ballroom competition or dinner dance). 

In the end, you want something to fit every occasion. You never know if the dance bug will hit you on a cruise, on the beach or during that work party you don't like to go to. But in the beginning, the goal is basic. Get a pair that is a good starter pair. Wherever you go, let the salesman know you just started taking lessons and you're looking for a good starter pair. You'll never go wrong with that. Afterwards, go crazy and get a pair that matches your style, the next dance event your going to or a style recommended by your instructor. Whatever the occasion you now have the knowledge to make your first choice. Now go get some dance shoes and make your teacher happy. 


Topics dance clothing, Dance Wear Tips, Ballroom Dancing, Beginner

Juan de Dios Garcia Photo

Juan de Dios Garcia

Juan de Dios is the owner of 2 Arthur Murray Dance Centers in Northern California. He spends his time training his staff and consulting for Arthur Murray Dance Centers globally. His hobbies include making gourmet ice cream and taking long walks on the beach with his wife Cari and dog Julio.