An Introduction to Dance Shoes

What shoes do I wear to come dance?

When you decide to come dancing, you do not have to feel like you must buy shoes, because then you must buy a whole new outfit! Just kidding. Because if you give a mouse a cookie… Really, when you decide to come dancing, all you need to do is come dancing! The best shoes to wear are a pair with a smooth sole. Most men’s business shoes and some ladies’ heels have a leather or smooth sole. You do not want to wear flip-flops, open-back shoes or athletic, rubber-soled shoes; these will fall off or stick to the floor and hinder any turning, both of which can result in injury.

When should I buy dance shoes?

When you begin to dance regularly (more than once per week), we recommend investing in dance shoes. Dance shoes are designed to provide support to the foot, while allowing the body the freedom to move across the floor and to turn without sticking to the floor. If you are only dancing sporadically, even a very affordable pair will be beneficial to avoiding injury and allowing the best technique you can.

How do I choose dance shoes?

There are shoes for smooth dancing, like waltz, and rhythm dancing, like cha cha. For social dancing, we recommend just buying one pair that will allow you to do both types of styles. However, your gender will determine the recommended style.

If you intend to dance a lot, you can purchase practice shoes. They are intended to provide extra support without the heel height or extra decoration.

Practice Shoes
Practice Shoes


Gentlemen: Guys, the main difference between your smooth and rhythm shoes is the height of the heel (½” for smooth, 1½” for rhythm) and that the higher heel is angled in on the rhythm shoes. If you are only dancing socially, we recommend you purchase a pair of smooth styled shoes. Guys, you have it a little bit easier, in that you can pick a pair mostly based on the look and comfort of the shoe. Just make sure the shoe fits snugly.

Men's Rhythm and Smooth style shoes
Men’s Rhythm and Smooth Style Shoes


Ladies: Ladies, if you are only dancing socially, we recommend you purchase a pair of rhythm styled shoes. These shoes are generally open-toed, can have a strappy design, and lots of sparkle, if you choose. The height of the heel is up to you, but we recommend starting with a shorter (1- 1 ½“) heel. The higher the heel, the more pressure on the ball of the foot, and the more tightness will develop through the Achilles tendon and the plantar fascia.


Ladies' Rhythm and Latin Dance Shoes
Ladies’ Rhythm and Latin Dance Shoes


The benefit of the rhythm style shoe is that it allows the foot to fully extend and connect to the floor, creating lines and the body action that is so beautiful in rhythm and Latin dance, while also allowing the lady to move in her smooth dances. Smooth shoes are generally closed toed and some ladies prefer them over rhythm shoes.

Ladies smooth ballroom dance shoe
Ladies’ Smooth and Standard Dance Shoes

Why are dance shoes so expensive?

Dance shoes are so expensive because they are carefully engineered, with better heel placement to improve balance and steadiness, than a regular street shoe. Ballroom dance shoes in general are also made much better; after all, the shoes must be strong and remain securely attached to the feet at all times. A broken shoe or a shoe that comes off the foot during a dance can cause serious injuries, so the quality assurance for dance footwear is more demanding than that of street shoes.

Dance shoes are available anywhere from cheap pairs ($30) at online distributors, such as lightinthebox.com, to expensive pairs ($200+). We recommend spending about $100 on your dance shoes. Quality suffers drastically with cheap pairs, but social dancing does not require the durability of the most expensive pairs. A well made pair of dance shoes can last for years, while more affordable shoes tend to wear out more quickly. Local and online retailers offer a variety of styles and prices to fit your budget and feet!

How do I know what size I wear?

Generally, your dance shoes size will be a couple sizes down that your street shoe, especially if the shoe is made of leather, which will stretch over time. Your dance shoes need to fit snugly, and in the case of open-toed shoes, your toes should extend slightly past the sole of the shoe. The fit is very important and can be difficult to determine without trying on a few pairs, so we recommend heading to your local dancewear shop to find your perfect pair!

Local shoe retailers

We sell shoes from Showtime Dance Shoes. Check out their catalog at http://www.showtimedanceshoes.com/.

Bloom Dancewear in Huntsville
3050 Leeman Ferry Rd SW
Huntsville, AL 35801


Pinterest Shoe Inspiration

Now that you have your shoes, join us for ballroom dance group classes and our weekly social dance. Check out the full schedule here. For questions, contact us here or call us at 256-469-8299 or email at dance.rocket.city@gmail.comSee you on the dance floor!