F A Qs

Q: What Kind of Shoes/Clothes do I Need?

A: The easy answer is shoes with non-slip suede soles, and clothes that are comfortable. Read more below.

Social Graces does not have requirements for shoes to “save” our floor like many dance studios have.  You can take lessons in street shoes.  However, after taking a few lessons, you will likely want to purchase the tools to excell!

For our group classes and private lessons at the studio, choose clothes that are comfortable. We do not have a dress code. Some come directly from work and are dressed in corporate casual; some come from the gym and are dressed in sweats. Wear what makes you feel comfortable. However, as you learn more about dance you will find that dressing the part will inspire your dancing.

Most frequently asked question is, “What makes dance shoes different from street shoes?”
Dance shoes, both ladies and men’s have non-slip suede soles, a metal shank in the arch for support, and they are very light-weight and flexible.

Ballroom Dance Shoes: Choosing the Right Style

Men’s dance shoes are typically black lace-up Oxfords with a flat heel for standard dances, and a 1 to 2 inch heel for Latin dances.

For women, form is almost as important as function, and shoe styles are as varied as dance categories — including Latin, swing, cha cha, foxtrot and waltz, to name a few.
Basic designs include open- or closed-toe pumps and sandals. Heels in women’s shoes are slim or flared and generally range in height from 1 to 3 inches.
Slim heels make turns and other moves easier. Flared heels are preferred for the Latin dances because they provide more stability.

A Word on Women’s Shoes

Women new to the world of ballroom dance may consider purchasing one pair of shoes that will work for a number dances — typically a closed-toe pump with a 2 to 2.5 inch flared heel and an ankle strap. These are referred to as standard, court or modern dance shoes.

Latin dancers typically wear open-toed shoes or strappy sandals with a 3 inch flared heel. As you become more proficient, you can add more styles to your wardrobe.

Expect to spend about $100 for a good pair of ballroom shoes.

Ballroom dance shoes come in a variety of colors. Black is the most popular. Many women choose flesh-colored shoes, which help extend the leg line, for competitions.

Ballroom Dance Shoe Construction

Non-slip soles are essential. Look for suede soles, which provide the right combination of grip and slide.

Rubber sneaker-like soles can stick to the floor and cause knee injuries, and leather soles can slide too much. Dance shoes have thinner soles than normal shoes. Most dancing shoes have a steel shank for support. The shoe material is flexible and lightweight.

For Ballroom Dancing, A Good Fit is Essential

Choose a snug, but not toe-crushing, fit. Try on several styles before purchasing. Shoes should be both comfortable and functional.

Buy in person the first time. If you can, ask your Social Graces instructor about this for guidance. An experienced salesperson can help you find the proper fit and style. Large cities, such as New York, have specialty shops. Ask your dance instructor or experienced dancers at your club where to buy locally.

Once you’ve found shoes you like and know what size you need, you can also purchase them online.

Maintenance and Repair

Don’t wear your ballroom dance shoes on the street. Rough surfaces and dirt will wear them out quickly. Carry them in a bag and put them on when you get to class or to the ballroom.

If you need your shoes repaired, call before you drop them off at your local shoemaker to be sure the shop is familiar with handling dance shoes.

Buying Latin or Standard Dance Shoes

Generally, dancers use open toe shoes for Latin and Rhythm and closed toe pumps for  Smooth and Standard.
Waltz, Tango, Viennese Waltz, Foxtrot, Quickstep are defined as Standard dances.
Samba, Cha-Cha-Cha, Rumba, Paso Doble, Jive, Salsa are defined as Latin Dance. In Latin dancing, partners perform tightly choreographed routines in which they must project energy and passion. The pair’s appearance, including costuming and shoes, is important to the success of the routine.

Women’s Dance Shoes: Style and Fit

For Latin and Ballroom dancing, women wear either pumps or sandals with a 2- or 3-inch heel. You may want to choose a lower height if you are not used to dancing in heels.

Pumps are open along the sides of the feet, have a closed toe box and are secured with an ankle strap. Sandals are strappy and open-toed. Practice shoes come in many different styles but tend to offer a lower, wider heel and breathable mesh or canvas covering much of the foot. Many students prefer practice shoes for lessons but wear a Latin or smooth shoe for dance parties, showcases, and competitions,

Most often made of leather or satin, women’s Latin dance shoes are lightweight, flexible and have suede soles, which provide the right blend of grip and slide while moving across the floor.

It’s best to purchase your first pair of Latin dance shoes in person, not online or from a catalog. When you shop, try several styles and brands. Look for a fit that is snug and hugs your foot, but is not too tight. Shoes that are too tight can cause blisters; those that are too loose can make you trip.

For Latin sandals, the woman’s toe should be as close as possible to the front of the shoe. Some women prefer to have their toes extend or hang over the edge of the shoe so that they can point their toes more easily and feel the floor.

Whichever style you choose should offer good control and look sexy. Prices range from $85 to $150.

Mens ballroom dance shoes come in several different varieties.

Dance shoes should be chosen overall for comfort, support, performance and style. Mens Ballroom Dance Shoes are critical to help prevent injury to your feet and to ensure the best possible performance. Ballroom dance shoes differ from street shoes, mainly because of the sole. Men’s soles are usually made of suede or smooth leather, which enables the dancer to glide across the floor, yet offers the right amount of traction.

Men’s ballroom dance shoes come in three different styles, Latin, Standard and Practice. The main difference in the shoes is heel height. The type of dance that is being performed goes into consideration of what type of shoe to wear.

Latin shoes

Latin shoes, which are also referred to as a Cuban heel, are used for such dances as samba and rumba. They typically have a heel that is 1.5 inches high and a suede sole. Wearing a Latin shoe is generally reserved for competition and not social dancing.

Standard ballroom shoes

Standard ballroom shoes resemble men’s dress shoes, but once again the difference is in the sole, which is made of suede. The heel is usually 0.5 inches or higher, and is usually worn for dances like the foxtrot or waltz.

Practice shoes

Practice shoes are for just that, practice. They tend to have an upper made of canvas to allow the foot to breathe and typically have no heel.

No matter what shoe is being purchased, overall comfort and fit, is an important factor. The shoe should be snug when laced, and not allow the foot to wiggle. If you choose a size or half size smaller than what you normally wear, it should offer the perfect fit. If it is too loose, you may not be able to properly grip your foot and it can throw you off balance. Being too tight, can allow injury to happen because you will lose flexibility in the shoe.

Where can I buy Ballroom dance shoes?

Unfortunately, there are few brick and mortar buildings where one can try on shoes. Amazon tends to have a good selection online.  Ask your Social Graces instructor for advice on this, and they will guide you toward several options.




Restore with Dance

“Dance is poetry of the feet.”

– John Dryden

Social Graces Ballroom Dance Studio

639 East Main St.

Berryville, VA 22611