Most of us get up every morning, get dressed and put on a pair of shoes. Not a big deal, we've done it most of our lives. Sometimes we change shoes to match the activity we are involved in at the time. Going to play tennis, put on tennis shoes, etc. Why then, you might ask, would someone do an article on shoes? The answer to that question is very simple, the shoes you wear to Ballroom dance can make the art of dancing more comfortable and easier to accomplish.
Ballroom dancing is dependent on a lot of things but one of the most important is being able to move across the floor without slipping or sticking. If you are wearing rubber soled shoes or your shoes are sticky, then your movement will feel awkward and stilted. The smooth dances (Foxtrot, Waltz, etc.) have precise foot placement with little foot swivel and the Latin dances (Rumba, Cha Cha, etc.) have a lot of foot swivel action. The movement of the body while dancing will cause natural foot swivel with the proper shoes. For this reason it is important for you to own a good pair of shoes for dancing.
If you change shoes to play golf or tennis, then why wouldn't you change shoes to enjoy the sport of Ballroom Dancing. Ballroom Dance Shoes are light weight, very flexible and have suede soles and heels. This allows you to move easier and with more control. Just as a good pair of athletic shoes help you to perform better in the sport they were made for so do Ballroom Dance shoes.
Now that you have decided you would like to check out getting some shoes for dancing. What do you look for? First, do not look for just "dance" shoes. They must be Ballroom Dance shoes not performance, tap or any shoes with a rubber sole or heel. As I stated above both women and men's shoes have suede soles on the bottom. Since Ballroom shoes are never worn off the dance floor they should last you 4 to 5 years. You should also purchase a metal wire shoe brush for cleaning the bottoms of the shoes. You should clean your shoes each time you dance to remove any wax or dirt buildup. Please do not do this on the dance floor, however, because you leave the dirt for others to pick up on their shoes. It is a good idea to purchase a shoe bag to carry your shoes and shoe brush.
Women's Ballroom Dance shoes should have a steel shank in the heels which normal heels do not. This means the heel will not break when you take the heel leads required in ballroom. There are two types of shoes, pump or open toe. The pump is normally used for Smooth and the open toe for Latin. The shoes you purchase depends on what you are more comfortable wearing. I would recommend, however, if you are only going to buy one pair of shoes that you buy the open toe because they have a strap across the top which is more comfortable in the long run. The heels are normally 2 - 2½" though you can buy a shorter heel if you are more comfortable with them.
Men's shoes are available in leather, patent and perforated finishes. Patent leather are hot and can stick together which can cause you to stumble or fall. Perforated finishes can stretch over time. My recommendation is to buy leather shoes because they last longer and don't stick. Men's heels are normally 3/4 to 1" (anything higher is normally for Latin only).