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Salsa Dance: Let’s talk about Salsa dance shoes and how to choose them [Most FAQs]

Updated: Mar 9, 2020

Salsa Dance: Let’s Talk about Salsa dance shoes and how to choose them [Most FAQs]

One of the most common questions we get as Salsa Instructors is about what shoes to wear. Mostly it’s ladies that ask first, the men never seem too bothered about what they’re wearing, which is sometimes frustrating.

Salsa dancing is all about being connected to the floor, by what? Yes, your feet! And if your feet are in big heavy walking boots I’m guessing you can’t feel the floor, let alone bend your feet or turn properly. Which is why you need Salsa dance shoes!!

There are many health implications from not wearing the correct dance shoe on your feet. But what is the correct dance shoe for Salsa dancing and where do you buy them?

We’ve compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Salsa dance shoes

I’m a Beginner, do I really need dance shoes?

Let’s talk about salsa dance shoes. Why should you invest in dance shoes when you’ve only just started?

Well actually, for the first few lessons don’t worry about hurrying out to buy new shoes. Just wear something soft (so you don’t hurt your dance partners’ feet) and something comfortable which is not too grippy and not too slippery and is secure on your foot.

My classes are held in a dance studio, do I need dance shoes?

Most Salsa classes are held in nightclubs or community centres so you should be fine in a street shoe. However, if your class is being held in a proper dance studio with a sprung dance floor they may actually ban street shoes in the studio, so it’s best to call ahead and check. It is most likely that you will need a pair of soft suede soled shoes from Day 1. And definitely no stiletto heels for ladies.

Which dance shoes should I buy?

The choice of dance shoes is immense. The best advice is to find something that will not grip to the floor, but equally does not slide so much that you will slip over, something that will stay on your foot and not slip off, something that is flexible so that you can move your foot with ease and something light so that if you step on someone else’s foot it reduces the damage that you do.

So you want: Non-grip, Non-slide, Secure, Flexible, Light.. easy right?

Can I wear Jazz Shoes for Salsa dancing?

Once you’ve completed a Beginner course and decided to continue then it’s definitely time to get thinking about dance shoes. Our first recommendation is a pair of Jazz shoes.These are just one option for your dancing needs and will depend on how much or little support you feel you need.

Jazz shoes don't have much support, not like a dance sneaker, but they do help you feel in contact with the floor more, allowing you to spread the weight over the ball of the foot.

There are several styles of Jazz shoes, with full or split soles and rubber or suede soles. We recommend a suede sole with a rubber heel (split or full sole is fine, but if you have strong arches go straight to a split sole).

A split suede sole, (not the rubber sole) is best for Salsa dancing (rubber is more grippy and we use that in other dance styles).

When men start Salsa dancing they will probably be wearing hard outdoor shoes which hurt when you tread on the ladies' toes, so getting a pair of Jazz shoes is a must have affordable option for your salsa dancing feet in our opinion!

Don’t forget you cannot wear a suede sole outside in the street, you must change into these once you are at the dance studio, and never get the suede soles wet or sticky.

Aren’t Jazz shoes just for male Salsa dancers?

We actually recommend ladies to have a pair of jazz shoes for practice sessions and dance workshops when you don't want to be in your dance heels the whole time.

However if you’re not used to ever wearing a completely flat shoe you might find it a little strange at first being so flat. We also recommend a number of stretching exercises that will help your feet feel flexible enough to be in flat shoes.

A Jazz shoe is too flat (low) is there any alternative to Jazz shoes for ladies?

Latin (Ballroom) practice shoes are a great alternative to jazz shoes for Ladies. They offer a soft leather upper, suede sole and a solid Cuban heel around 1.5”.

They are very comfortable and you should be able to practice for hours before getting sore feet. Having a small heel but not too high (under 2”) will help to keep you in the right position for the Salsa footwork and turns.

They are also a halfway-house to the higher heels you might wear later for going out socially so will help train your feet towards wearing a higher heel.

A Jazz shoe is too soft, is there any alternative to Jazz shoes for Men?

A shoe that men can wear all the time (and that ladies could wear for practice shoes) is a canvas trainer / pump by Taygra. These are a Brazilian style casual canvas trainer which have a sole which slides nicely for dancing.

We at The Dance Guru also wear these as a casual street shoe because they are so comfortable. They are also an ethically run company and we recommend reading the ‘About Us’ section whilst you’re on their website.

We order our normal street size shoe for Taygra’s, although our Lady dancers have a slim foot, we know that sometimes men go up a size if they have a wide foot but check out their sizing guide to be sure.

They can be found online here: