#Ballroom #Dance Shoes: More Than You Ever Wanted to Know

My friend David asked a good question: what makes ballroom dance shoes unique to ballroom?  How are they different from other shoes?

The answer is, of course, what makes them special is that I love them with all of my heart.

But also, they are made special, just for ballroom dancing.

Specifically, the bottoms of the shoes are covered in suede for the soles of the shoes.

This is what enables the dancer to slide smoothly across the floor while they are dancing.

Excepting that, over time, the suede gets worn smooth, which makes the shoes TOO slick.   So sometimes you have to “brush” your shoes to rough them up.  The “brush” is actually wire bristles, and you literally scratch up the bottom of the shoes in grid patterns to rough them up so they are not too slick.

Ballroom dancing shoes are in two categories, with one shoe for smooth dances (waltz, foxtrot, tango, viennese waltz, quickstep) and another shoe for latin dances (chacha, swing, rumba).  Some wear different shoes for west coast swing than east coast swing.  It gets pretty intense, the shoe business in dance world!  Primarily, the difference between smooth shoes and latin shoes is that latin shoes have a higher heel, forcing the weight of the dancer onto the toes more, while smooth shoes have a wider and lower heel (though some are still 2 or even 3 inches!) to keep the balance more evenly distributed.

I do not have any of those shoes!  I am just a beginner, and while I love ballroom dancing very much, almost more than anything, it is not a natural talent and very hard work for me.  I have also missed a lot from being sick, and so I have to keep starting over.  But that is okay with me because I love it that much.   It is so fun, and I do love it very much.

I have two pairs of ballroom dance shoes.

One is a pair of practice shoes:

You can see they have a low heel, because I cannot dance in high heels yet!   I never even walked in high heels before!

They are black, which means they are very most basic practice shoes for the very most basic beginners.

I went through three pairs of those the first year I was dancing.

Now I use real ballroom shoes, but they are beginner shoes with only a one inch heel.

Competitive dance shoes are tan instead of black because it blends in more with my skin color, so allegedly it makes my legs look longer which allegedly makes the judge give me higher points for looking more dancer-like.

That’s why competitive dancing always has brown shoes like that.

Unless it is a showcase, which is like a dance done at a competition where it is only one couple dancing instead of competing against other couples at the same time, then sometimes the shoes are dyed to match the dress.

I need a new pair of ballroom shoes, but that is not included in a missionary budget!  Also, I was ready to go up to the next size heel when we started this whole cochlear implant business.  But now I am starting over again, so I am not ready.  So I have to decide whether to get a new pair of the same thing while I start over, or just wait it out and hope for the best and get the next sized heel when it is time.

The scariest part about going up to the next level of shoes is that they are open toe.

That means when you get stepped on, it’s going to hurt.

I like my little closed toe shoes that protect my baby piggies.

So.  We will see.

For now, my dance shoes are pulled out of the trunk and are back in the front floorboard, where they should be.  It was a long year without dancing, and I missed them.  I think that’s what I will write about next.  Enjoy, because this was probably the only time in my whole life that I would ever blog about shoes.  It kind of makes me laugh, actually.  Hilarious.

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About Emily

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2009. I serve as a Chaplain, and work as a counselor. I got bilateral cochlear implants in 2010, but will always love sign language. I choose books over television, and organics over processed. Nothing is as close to flying as ballroom dancing - except maybe running, when in the solo mood. I would rather be outside than anywhere else, especially at the river riding my bike or kayaking. PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy, and currently doing a post-doc in Jewish Studies and an MDiv in Pastoral Counseling. The best thing about Emily World is that it's always an adventure, even if (not so) grammatically precise. The only thing better than writing is being married to a writer. Nathan Christensen and I were married in the Oklahoma City temple on 13 October 2012, and have since fostered more than eighty-five children. We have adopted the six who stayed, and are totally and completely and helplessly in love with our family. Nathan writes musical theater, including "Broadcast" (a musical history of the radio) and an adaption of Lois Lowry's "The Giver". He served his mission in South Korea, has taught song-writing in New York City public schools, and worked as a theater critic for a Tucson newspaper. This is not an official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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