Are you new to the world of adult education dance classes and wondering what to do about shoes? You are not alone. I wore sneakers to my first dance class and soon found out that I needed special ballroom dance shoes that would glide across the floor.

What Are Ballroom Dance Shoes?

Ballroom dance shoes are specialized shoes that are designed to give the dancer support, comfort, grace and ease of moving safely on the dance floor, and to provide style. They must be sturdy enough to withstand the pressures and wear and tear from a variety of dance patterns. Most dance shoes have a metal shank to support the arch of the foot. The best ballroom dance shoes are comfortable, durable, and made of high quality materials.

There is a range of quality in dance shoes on the market, you should look for a shoe that is carefully engineered and manufactured. They provide the dancer with good balance and steadiness because of the way the heel placement is designed.

Why Do I Need Special Shoes to Dance?

Do your feet hurt? Do you have flat feet and require arch supports for comfort? Those are two good reasons for wearing ballroom dance shoes. The best ballroom dance shoes are made of soft, flexible leather. They should be flexible and supple to allow for intricate dance steps and provide support for your arches. They should have a suede sole and heel to provide just the right amount of glide on the dance floor, smooth flowing movements, and good traction.

The soles of dance shoes are thinner than those of street shoes. Sneakers can be dangerous because the tread on the soles can stick to the floor, causing the dancer to fall or injure a knee. Some street shoes with leather soles are too slippery, and  could also cause an injury or fall.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Does Every Dancer Need Ballroom Shoes?

No, ballroom dance shoes are not a necessity for every dancer. For beginners who are just experimenting to see if they want to learn to dance, it is not essential for them to spend the money for dance shoes until they are certain that they want to continue to dance. You can dance in street shoes, but must be cautious that leather soled shoes are not slick on the bottom. You don’t need special dance shoes if you are an occasional social dancer and are not sure you want to make an investment in them. But, like many other things in life, once you try them, you’re likely to wonder how you ever got along without them!

However, if you are considering dancing in competition, or dance regularly, you will probably want to equip yourself with dance shoes for the type of dancing that you do. Purchase the best ballroom dance shoes that you can afford. They will provide you with the ability to perform all the various dancing techniques more smoothly, gracefully and safely. In addition, you will be dancing in comfort and style, and protecting your feet as well.

If you want to look good on the dance floor, you will want to purchase ballroom dance shoes. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes in your dancing!

What Are The Different Kinds Of Ballroom Dance Shoes?

There are six basic types of ballroom dance shoes:

  • Men’s Latin Shoes
  • Men’s Ballroom Shoes
  • Lady’s Ballroom Shoes 
  • Lady’s Smooth Shoes
  • Lady’s Latin Shoes
  • Unisex Practice Sneakers





Men’s Latin dance shoes have a one or two-inch heel and can be made of black matte black or patent leather. You will rarely see them on the social dance floor, but they are worn at Latin dances and in Latin dance competitions.



  Men’s ballroom shoes are always flat black or patent leather Oxfords with a one-inch heel. If you are only going to invest in one pair of dance shoes, this type would be the best. They are good shoes for beginners, social dancing, and standard dancing in competition. 




                                         LADIES’ BALLROOM SHOES

        There are many varieties of women’s ballroom dance shoes. The best ballroom dance shoes for women who are new to the dancing scene are “Character” shoes, pumps that have a 2 or 2.5 inch heel, closed toes, and an ankle strap. Some of them also have a strap from the toe to the ankle strap to provide extra support. This style can be used for a variety of dances. It is more cost effective for a woman to begin with one pair of ballroom dance shoes, then progress to other styles as she becomes more skillful at dancing.

Ladies’ Ballroom Dance Shoes have closed toes, 2 or 2.5 inch flared heels, and some have a strap around the ankle. They are used for dancing in International Ballroom competition and must be flesh-colored or dyed to match the color of the lady’s dress in all types of dances except Latin. The dying process for satin shoes is easy, and many professional dancers dye their shoes to match their costumes themselves. Social ballroom dance shoes can be a variety of colors, and have an open or closed toe, 2 to 3.5 inch flared heels, and might have an ankle strap.



Ladies’ smooth dance shoes are a combination of ladies’ ballroom and Latin shoes. The body and heel can be like either a ballroom or Latin shoe,  but the sole is flexible like the Latin shoe.


Ladies’ Latin dance shoes can have open or closed toes or be sandals. They have a 2.5 or 3-inch flared heel. This style of shoe can be used for both International Latin and American Rhythm dancing. Competitive Latin dancers must always wear flesh-colored satin Latin dance shoes. However, social Latin dance shoes may be made of leather or fabric and are available in a variety of colors and styles.




Unisex practice sneakers are used for all kinds of ballroom dancing.  Practicing the steps and patterns taught in the lesson is essential when taking ballroom dance lessons. While most dance students in adult education ballroom dance classes dance in street shoes or their dance shoes, serious dance students who are studying in professional ballroom dance studios sometimes wear practice sneakers when practicing.

Like men and women’s ballroom and Latin shoes, practice sneakers also have suede soles. They are designed to prevent injury to dancers’ feet. Practice sneakers are padded, have a flexible arch, and frequently have holes for ventilation. However, practice sneakers are not allowed when performing in competition.

Practice sneakers made from breathable leather that provides ventilation for increased comfort are frequently worn by professional dance instructors, who are usually on their feet for long periods of time.



What Are The Best Ballroom Dance Shoes For Me?

Your choice of a ballroom dance shoe depends on the type of dancing you do, your budget, and the style of shoe you prefer. You can expect to pay approximately $50 to $150 for a good quality dancing shoe, but discount ballroom dance shoes are available online. It is recommended that you purchase the best ballroom dance shoes that you can afford, as they will give you many years of good wear and provide better support for your feet.

Custom ballroom dance shoes can be special ordered if you have a condition such as wearing an unusual size shoe, have one foot bigger than the other, or require orthotics or special shoes.

What Are The Best Brands Of Ballroom Dance Shoes?

There are many brands of ballroom dancing shoes. Moderately priced shoes include: Capezio, Bloch, Very Fine, TD Dancewear, and Bluebell, as well as others. High dollar shoes are usually worn by professional and competition dancers. These include: Aida, American Classic, Dance Naturals, and SupaDance, and DanceLite, to name a few.

For details on these and other brands, check out https:/

Where Can I Buy My Ballroom Dancing Shoes?

If possible,  you should  purchase your first pair of ballroom dance shoes in person to be sure of a good fit. Then, once you know your size, subsequent pairs could be ordered online if you prefer. In larger cities, you can buy ballroom dance shoes in specialized shoe stores that cater to dancers. Moderately priced ballroom shoes are available on websites such as or If you have a foot that is difficult to fit, custom-made dancing shoes should be purchased in person from a local dance shoe supplier, if you are lucky enough to have one in your city. They are also available online, but this may be risky, as dance shoe sizes do not run the same as street shoes, and correct fit is essential in dancing shoes.

How Do I Know What Size of Ballroom Dance Shoes to Buy?

You will need to check the website for the brand of shoe that you are considering. Not all ballroom dance shoes are sized the same way; different manufacturers use different sizing systems. The correct fit is essential. Ballroom dance shoes should fit snugly, with the toes at the top of the shoe. In Latin ladies’ shoes, the toes should hang over the tip of the shoe slightly.

Ballroom dance shoes are sized differently than street shoes.  The best way to be sure your ballroom dance shoes fit properly  is to take a measurement of your feet, then check the sizing chart on the website of the manufacturer of the brand of shoe you have chosen.

Fitting ballroom shoes is different from fitting street shoes The toe should be shorter and the shoes should fit more tightly. Some sources recommend purchasing a shoe that is a half size smaller than what you usually wear because leather shoes stretch. They should fit snugly, but without slipping on the heel or pinching the toes. They must not be too tight, or they will cause blisters.


How Much Do Ballroom Dancing Shoes Cost?

There is a spectrum of prices, depending upon the quality of the shoes. While low cost ballroom dance shoes are available online for around $30, the better brands of beginner’s shoe prices hover between $50 to $100. Moderately priced shoes range from $100 to $150. Prices for the exquisite high end ballroom dance shoes worn by professional dancers begin around $150 and go up from there.

How Do I Care For My Ballroom Dance Shoes?

The most important thing to remember is to never wear your dance shoes outside. The rough surface of the street or sidewalk will get the suede soles dirty and damage them. Most dancers carry their dance shoes in a shoe bag and change when they enter the ballroom. Shoe bags can be purchased online or in shoe stores that cater to ballroom dancers.

Like any other shoes, your dance shoes should be polished regularly. In addition, to protect them from cracking, you should occasionally apply a silicone conditioner. Use a metal-bristled brush on the suede soles of your dance shoes every time you wear them to remove any dance wax or dirt that has accumulated on them in order to prolong their wear.


If you’re just dancing occasionally and don’t want to invest in ballroom dance shoes, it is not a necessity for you to do so. However, once you’ve felt the comfort and seen how gracefully you glide across the dance floor wearing properly fitting dance shoes, you’ll wonder how you ever got along without them! And you’ll be one happy hoofer, indeed!


  1. Very interesting post! I had no idea there were so many ballroom shoes or why they were so important. I actually thought they were just regular shoes. Now I know why those women dance so well in those heels. Oh always thought the women’s shoes were so pretty. Thanks for the info!

    • Hi, Melissa.
      Glad you enjoyed learning about ballroom shoes and the difference between them and street shoes, the ones you usually wear. The reason they can dance so well in heels is because of the special heel, that flares out at the bottom to provide more surface area and there is a special way the heel is attached to the shoe to help with balance. None of those things are on the regular heels that women wear. I actually fell down during my high school reunion dance because I wasn’t wearing the right shoes. They were gorgeous strappy sandals with about a 2 and a half inch heel, but they were spikes, and slippery on the bottom. My foot went out from under me, and down I went! Dance shoes have suede soles to allow you to glide without slipping. I was one embarrassed dancer, I must admit!

  2. Hi Carol,
    I didn’t know there are so many different dancing shoes. I love Latin dance and it’s hard to dance in high-heel shoes. It’s better for me to dance in sneakers. Do you think they are good for Latin dance? Now I know I need to buy good Latin shoes. Thanks for this great information.
    Best regards.

  3. Hi, Maja.

    Real Latin ballroom dance shoes have a flared heel that’s wider at the bottom to give you better balance and control. The heel is engineered and placed in a location on the shoe that provides for better balance as well. While they look like regular high heeled sandals, they are much safer to dance in than street shoes, not only because the heel is engineered for safety, but also they have suede soles, which allow you to glide without slipping. I do not recommend that you dance in heels in street shoes because it’s too dangerous.

    I actually fell down at my class reunion dance wearing high heeled shoes that were not dance shoes. They were gorgeous strappy sandals, but had a spiked heel. That slid out from under me, and down I went, much to my embarrassment! Everyone stopped dancing and asked me if I was OK.

    Dancing in regular sneakers is dangerous for a different reason. The soles do not glide, and may stick to the floor, causing either a knee injury from the sudden stop, or a fall if the toe sticks to the floor. I do not recommend dancing in sneakers unless you wear the special practice dance sneakers that are designed for dancing and have a suede sole that will allow for gliding on the dance floor without slipping.

    I would suggest you go to a dance shoe store and try out both ballroom Latin shoes (which I believe you can get with 2 inch heels) and the dance sneakers. Try dancing a few Latin steps in both types of shoes to help you decide which is best for you. The sneakers might not be as pretty as the Latin sandals, but they might work best for you. You’re the best judge to know what’s best for you.

  4. Hi Carol
    Thank you for this informative and well-researched post about shoes. As a dance teacher, it’s good to be able to direct my students to a site that is letting them know about all the difference choices of shoes they have. There are even some teaching shoes available that are a bit like Oxford shoes but usually made with more breathable leather so they are good for teachers who are wearing them for most of the day.
    I like your point about the ballroom shoes needing to match the dresses and would add that satin ballroom shoes (or ballet shoes) are very easy to dye and most professionals will dye their shoes in this way.
    Thank you once again and I will be back to your site soon.

    • Hi, Gail. Thanks for your comments. I enjoy sharing information that is helpful for new dancers. I have incorporated your comments about the teaching shoes and dying satin shoes into my post. Thanks for the suggestions. Carol

  5. Amazing website
    I never realized you should purchase special shoes to do ballroom dancing until reading your post, I never learned to dance but I do wish I would have now. I really enjoyed reading about ballroom dancing, I just might one day get the courage to take dancing lessons.


    • Hi, Jeff.
      Thanks for your kind remarks about my website. My goal is to provide information and encouragement for people who would like to learn to dance. I didn’t learn to dance until I was 35, and I learned by taking an adult education class. It was so much fun, I got hooked!

      If you read my post “Why Ballroom Dancing”, you’ll learn about my journey into dancing and discover that you’re never too old to learn. I had a friend who was taking an intermediate dance class with his neighbor so he could dance with his daughter at her wedding. He agreed to be my partner in the beginners class, and that’s how I learned.

      I would be happy to pay it forward and do that for you if you were close by. I will be putting instructional videos on my website demonstrating various dances, as well as information on how to learn to dance, so check back with me from time to time.

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