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How to Choose the Perfect Pair of Dancing Shoes for Your Salsa Classes

Every seasoned salsa dancer will attest that the dance's magical allure is rooted in its heart-thumping beats, sensual moves, and intricate footwork. Still, they'll also tell you that your choice of footwear can profoundly affect your performance. This guide is here to help you navigate the vibrant world of dance shoes and ensure that when you step into your salsa class at Salsa Dance LA, you're set to dance your heart out.

The Importance of Proper Dance Shoes

Why can't you just wear your regular shoes to your salsa classes? Well, you can, but you'll soon discover that your old faithful pair may not be the best dance partner after all. When it comes to dancing, especially salsa, wearing the right pair of shoes is like turning the key to a whole new world of movement and comfort.

Balance and Stability

Salsa involves a lot of quick turns, spins, and fast footwork. Dance shoes are designed to offer the balance and stability that these movements demand. The shoe soles are typically made of suede or a similar material that provides an optimal amount of friction with the dance floor. Too much grip can hinder turns and spins, while too little can send you slipping. Your regular street shoes, on the other hand, are designed for grip and can often stick to the dance floor, making turns difficult and potentially causing knee injuries.

Flexibility and Comfort

Another vital aspect is the shoe's flexibility. Dance shoes are designed to be flexible and move with your foot, giving you the ability to execute footwork accurately and comfortably. Regular shoes are not designed with this level of flexibility in mind and can restrict movement.

Protect Your Feet

Lastly, dance shoes are designed to protect your feet during the hours of dancing. They are padded in all the right places to provide cushioning where you need it most, allowing you to dance longer without discomfort.

Choosing Your Perfect Pair

Finding the perfect pair of dance shoes may feel overwhelming at first with the many styles, brands, and variations available. But don't worry! Let's break it down together.

1. Style: Ballroom, Latin, or Practice Shoes?

Dance shoes come in various styles, and the most common ones you'll encounter are Ballroom, Latin, and Practice shoes. When you're choosing shoes for salsa, you'll want to lean towards Latin Dance Shoes or Practice shoes.

Latin Dance Shoes are designed for Latin dances, which includes salsa. They typically have a higher heel (2-3 inches for women, and 1-1.5 inches for men), and they are strappy and open-toed. This design allows for a greater range of movement and flexibility.

Practice shoes, on the other hand, have a lower heel and closed-toe design. They are generally more comfortable for extended periods and are great for beginners who are still getting used to dancing in heels.

It's crucial to try different styles and find what works best for your foot and your comfort.

2. Fit: Like a Glove, but for Your Feet

Dance shoes should fit more snugly than regular street shoes. They should hold your foot firmly in place to offer stability and control. When trying on shoes, do a few dance steps to make sure your foot doesn't slide around in the shoe. You want your toes to be near the end of the shoe but not cramped. Remember, the shoes will stretch a bit with use.

3. Material: Leather vs Synthetic

When it comes to the shoe's material, you'll generally have to choose between leather and synthetic materials. Genuine leather shoes mold to your feet over time, providing a custom fit. They also tend to be more breathable. Synthetic shoes, on the other hand, may not mold to your feet, but they are often lighter and more affordable.

4. Sole Type: Suede or Leather

The sole of the shoe is also a critical consideration. Suede soles are ideal as they provide the right amount of slip-and-grip balance you need for salsa dancing. They glide across the dance floor during spins and turns but also offer some resistance for stability. Leather soles can also be a good choice as they offer similar features.

Where to Buy Dance Shoes?

There are several places to buy dance shoes, both online and in physical stores. However, as a beginner, it is recommended to try them on in person. This way, you can get a feel for the fit, comfort, and style that suits you best. As you gain more experience and know your preferences, online shopping can offer more variety and competitive prices.

For anyone in the Los Angeles area, we recommend visiting the store at Salsa Dance LA, where you can try on various styles and get expert advice from experienced salsa dancers and instructors.

Taking Care of Your Dance Shoes

Once you have your perfect pair, it's important to take good care of them to prolong their life. Here are some quick tips:

  • Use a shoe brush to keep the suede soles clean and maintain their texture.

  • Only wear your dance shoes indoors, specifically on the dance floor. Wearing them outside can damage the soles and the upper material.

  • Let your shoes air out and dry after each dance session. This helps to prevent the build-up of moisture, which can degrade the materials over time.

Remember, no matter how perfect your shoes are, they won't make you a great dancer overnight. That's where we come in! Join us for salsa classes at Salsa Dance LA, where our experienced instructors will guide you through the exhilarating world of salsa dancing, with or without your perfect pair of dance shoes.

Things to Avoid When Choosing Dance Shoes

While we've discussed the essential features to look for in your perfect pair of salsa dance shoes, it's equally important to note the pitfalls to avoid. Here are a few points to keep in mind:

1. Avoid Street Shoes

As mentioned earlier, street shoes lack the specific design elements needed for dancing salsa. Their rubber or plastic soles can grip the dance floor too much, impeding your ability to perform swift turns and footwork. Street shoes also often lack the padding and support that dance shoes provide.

2. Avoid Ill-fitting Shoes

A shoe that's too large or too small can wreak havoc on your dancing. Shoes that are too big can cause your feet to slide around, affecting your balance and making you more prone to injuries. On the other hand, shoes that are too tight can cause painful blisters and restrict your foot movement.

3. Avoid Non-adjustable Straps

Look for shoes with adjustable straps. As your feet swell during dancing (which is entirely normal), you'll need the ability to adjust your shoes for comfort.

Upgrading Your Dance Shoe Game

After dancing salsa for a while, you may want to upgrade your shoes to suit your evolving needs. You might consider shoes with higher heels, different styles, or advanced features.

1. Custom Dance Shoes

As your dancing progresses, you may find that you want a shoe tailored to your specific needs. Many companies offer custom dance shoes, allowing you to select the style, material, heel height, and even the color.

2. Consider a Second Pair

If you are dancing frequently, consider investing in a second pair of dance shoes. Alternating between two pairs of shoes can prolong their lifespan, and it also gives you a backup pair in case of sudden damage or if you just want to switch up your style.


Choosing the perfect pair of dance shoes is an essential step (pun intended!) on your salsa dancing journey. It can significantly enhance your comfort and performance, transforming your salsa dancing experience from enjoyable to absolutely fantastic.

Remember that the best shoe for you is one that fits well, offers excellent support, and feels good on your feet. So whether it's your first salsa class or you're a seasoned pro, make sure to wear the right dance shoes and let your feet do the talking on the dance floor.

Join us at Salsa Dance LA to not just find the perfect pair of dance shoes, but also to immerse yourself in the enchanting world of salsa. From our friendly instructors to our inclusive community, we promise a dancing experience that you'll never forget.


1. Are dance shoes necessary for salsa classes?

While it's possible to dance in regular shoes, dance shoes offer advantages like balance, flexibility, and protection for your feet. They are designed to enhance your dancing experience and are highly recommended.

2. What makes a good salsa dance shoe?

A good salsa dance shoe should offer stability and balance, be flexible to allow a full range of foot motion, and be comfortable enough for prolonged use. A suede or leather sole, an adjustable fit, and a heel height that you're comfortable with are other essential features.

3. Are Latin dance shoes and salsa shoes the same?

Latin dance shoes are designed for various types of Latin dances, including salsa. They typically feature a higher heel and open-toe design, providing more flexibility and range of movement, making them suitable for salsa dancing.

4. How should salsa dance shoes fit?

Salsa dance shoes should fit more snugly than your regular shoes. They should hold your foot securely without causing discomfort. Your toes should be near the end of the shoe, but not cramped.

5. Can I wear my salsa dance shoes outside?

It's recommended to wear your salsa dance shoes only on the dance floor. Wearing them outside can damage both the sole and the upper material of the shoe.

6. How do I care for my salsa dance shoes?

You can prolong the lifespan of your salsa dance shoes by cleaning the soles with a shoe brush, allowing them to air out after each use, and wearing them only on the dance floor.

7. Where can I buy salsa dance shoes?

You can buy salsa dance shoes online or in physical stores. If you're in the Los Angeles area, you can visit our store at Salsa Dance LA.

8. Can I wear practice shoes to salsa class?

Yes, practice shoes are an excellent choice for beginners or for those who prefer a lower heel. They typically have a closed-toe design, providing more protection for your feet.

9. Are dance shoes worth the investment?

Investing in a good pair of dance shoes can significantly enhance your dancing experience. They offer the right balance, flexibility, and comfort, enabling you to fully enjoy and perform your dance movements.

10. Can I customize my dance shoes?

Yes, many companies offer custom dance shoes. You can select the style, material, color, and heel height to suit your specific preferences.

11. Should I buy more than one pair of dance shoes?

If you dance frequently, having more than one pair of dance shoes can be beneficial. It allows you to alternate between them, which can extend their lifespan. Plus, it's always good to have a backup pair.

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