The Worst Dance Shoes Ever

The variety of dance styles—Tap, Jazz, Ballet, Ballroom, Latin, Country, and others—each favor a different dance shoe. My thoughts are focused on the partner dances, primarily Ballroom, Country, and West Coast Swing since I am most familiar with those. Regardless of style, the best dance shoes have several qualities in common.

Dance Shoe Fit

Don’t settle for bad fit just because they’re dance shoes, and you really like dancing. In the world of shoe selection, width is just as important as length. Choose a shoe that allows the entire ball of foot and all of your toes to contact the floor. Don’t squeeze your toes into a shoe and expect to dance well or comfortably. After all, quality dance movement makes the most use of the ball of foot—much more than the heel—and finally, the toes. So, don’t cheat your feet out of a good fitting shoe.

Dancing in Heels

The saying about Ginger Rogers doing everything thing that Fred Astaire did, except she did it backwards and in heels first appeared in a Frank and Ernest cartoon. She denied saying it herself, but explained that she practiced in a low heel and filmed in high heels. To some degree, heel height is specific to the dance style. The Latin or Rhythm dances are often danced in heels 2” or higher because those dances expect the weight to be more forward over the ball of foot. Smooth dances typically make use of a 1”-1.5” heel because many movements start with a heel strike and spend more time moving from the front of heel to back of ball. Flat shoes or tennis shoes are popular across a broad variety of dances from ballet to hip hop. The point here is that different dance styles are better-performed in different heel heights.

Regardless the dance, the worst dance shoe is one worn too long, for the wrong dance, or that causes injury. Once upon a time, I wore shoes that were too small and developed a toe injury that plagued me until I had minor surgery at the end of the dance season. Presently, I’m managing Achilles’ tendonitis from wearing a flat shoe because the shoe was popular and looked nifty. Don’t be like me. Make your shoe choices based on fit and function, not style or popularity.


Bryce Greene