Ballroom Dancing Classes – How Ballroom Shoes Will Advance Your Dancing Faster and Add More Fun
What makes a big difference to your enjoyment and advancement in ballroom dancing classes and ballroom dancing in general is ballroom dance lessons your footwear. Just like a musician with their musical instrument, a dancer’s musical instrument are their ballroom dancing shoes.
If you are attending ballroom dancing classes in your bare feet, flip-flops, sneakers, tennis shoes, running shoes, stilettos, platform shoes, boots, slippers, dress shoes etc. you are doing yourself a big disservice in your efforts to learn how to ballroom dance.
Why? Because you are spending hours dancing on your feet and if you are wearing street shoes instead of ballroom shoes, you are practicing incorrectly and also experiencing the following problems:
Slipping on dance floor – most leather soled and some synthectic soled street shoes are slippery on a wood floor. Most ballroom dancing classes are held on wood dance floors. This is even more dangerous for beginners as beginners are generally not as balanced. You may slip, fall or twist your ankles especially when wearing high-heeled street shoes. A lot of high-heeled street shoes are not constructed well to balance the body over the heels. Turning, spinning swivelling, or any fast changes of directions becomes scary.
Sticking to dance floor – most sneakers, tennis shoes etc or shoes with rubber soles will ‘stick’ to the wood dance floor and make it difficult for you to move your feet quickly. East Coast Swing, Salsa/Mambo, Jive, Cha-Cha, Samba, Viennese Waltz and Quickstep will be particularly challenging because of the speed of these dances. You will have difficulty executing the correct technique as you will need to glide from foot to foot and articulate your feet from Heel to Toe or Toe to Heel or using the inside edge of your foot etc. In ballroom dancing, other than tango and jive, we do not pick up our feet when we move from step to step. You will also have difficulty changing directions like in pivoting, turning, spinning or swivelling and may hurt your knees when you try to use your upper body to compensate for your feet not turning.
Clunky or stomping – you feel really clumsy, your feet feel large and clunky and you feel like you are clumping or stomping through your steps. You are most likely dancing in tennis shoes. Tennis shoes are bulky so you will never be able to close your feet properly – the bulk gets in the way. This will encourage bad habits as you will always dance with your feet and legs apart even when it’s supposed to be closed in particular steps. Platform shoes also have this similar clunky effect due to the extra weight and lack of flex in the soles of the shoes. For men wearing tennis shoes you will keep running into the sides of the lady’s feet when you are trying to step between their feet. Men’s dress shoes are also clunky as they are wider than men’s ballroom dance shoes. stubbed toes or ripped toe nails – this happens to most ladies who insist on wearing open toe shoes while dancing with beginner leaders. The leaders are just learning how to lead and if they are not taught proper technique, they will invariably step on the lady’s feet. If the ladies are wearing open toe shoes, this will result in pain and quite often, a ripped toe nail. So ladies, please wear closed toe shoes when dancing with beginner men. Men – learn the technique on how to lead properly from the start and you will never step on a lady’s toes.
Ballroom dancing shoes are specially constructed so they are balanced in the right places especially over the arch and heels of your feet. They also flex in the right places and have suede bottoms.
Ballroom shoes fit your feet like a glove and there is no bulky material around your feet so you can close your feet properly. On ballroom dance floors, suede bottoms provide the best combination of glide and grip capability. Better ballroom shoes are very flexible and allow you to articulate your feet ie. ‘point’ your feet, articulate from heel to the ball of your feet to your toes or inside edge of ball of foot to whole foot or combinations thereof.
This articulation of your feet is important in developing your ability to dance and is what will allow you to develop grace, fluidity and power in your dancing. It all starts in your feet and good ballroom dancing shoes. Every ballroom dance has specific techniques when it comes to foot articulation (footwork) to show the character of the dance. Waltz and Foxtrot uses Heel Toe, Toe, Toe Heel, Toe Heel Toes etc. Salsa uses Ball Flat. Tango uses Heel, Toe Heel, inside edge of ball of foot etc.