ah shoes…. Importantly, you do not need to buy dedicated tango shoes before you start to learn to dance. However, the shoe needs to give sufficient support to your foot, and you do need to be able to pivot freely. For this reason shoes with a leather or suede sole are important. Please avoid coming to class in sandals, wedge heels, boots, or rubber-soled shoes. If you’ve been dancing for a while, then most people will buy ‘proper’ dance shoes. It is now quite easy to buy tango shoes either online, or in London, though people also dance in ballroom shoes. There is also a dance shop in Cambridge which you can check out: Attitude.
There are three main brands of womens shoe: Comme il faut, Neotango and Gretaflora. Which you choose will largely come down to personal taste and the best thing to do is to visit a couple of shops and try on a range of styles and heel heights. You can also talk to other followers and ask them about theirs. Even with a high or stiletto heel, the shoe should feel stable when you stand and should hold your foot securely. Most tango shoes are leather and will ‘give’ a bit over time. Knowing this, it can be a good idea to buy shoes that are slightly tight across the toes and wear them in gradually. It is also a good idea to have only a small gap between the end of your toes and the top of the shoe. Tango shoes are expensive – typically over £160.00 at the moment, and it’s worth investing a bit of time to get something that fits you properly and you will enjoy dancing in. Afterwards you can look online and occasionally you may find shoes in your size on ebay.
Alternatives to tango shoes: it is possible to adapt street shoes to tango purposes. The most important things are that a) you can pivot easily (the sole is leather, or you add a leather sole over the existing one), b) that the heel of the shoes is directly under the heel of your foot and c) that the strap holds your foot in the shoe. Some people choose to dance in dance-sneakers or other flat shoes. It is possible to dance as a follower in flat shoes, though you will need to adapt how you walk – dancing relevé, or on tip-toes for a long period is not a good idea. Most dance-sneakers are not designed for tango and have hard rubber soles which can make pivoting difficult and strain your knees and ankles. Again you can adapt by sticking on leather soles, alternatively some brands of sneaker have fabric-covered rubber soles which work better.
Shoes for men should have a leather or suede sole, be light weight and soft, and have no protruding welt. The leather sole of the shoe should support your foot, comfortably, and provide some cushioning. When you start tango, any leather soled shoes will do. But dancing with a women who is wearing her best open-toe comme il faut heels is a bit frightening (for both of you) if you are wearing army boots or similar. Better not to buy anything until you decide what style you like. Typically you want the leather shoes to be slightly tight when you first try them on as the leather will stretch and shape to your feet
as you start to wear them. Tempting as it may be, it is a bad idea to dance all night in a brand-new pair of shoes. You may find that you end up with blistered feet….. better to do this gradually.
If you would like more advice on buying shoes, please do come and have a chat with us.