Tango Shoes? Yes, Please!!
For the first 38 years I was quite happy to buy one pair of black and one pair of brown shoes for each season and I would wear them until they begged to be put out of their misery. I considered spending money on shoes to be a complete waste when I could be doing plenty of other fun things with the money. Then I picked up that little innocuous hobby called dance.
Now, don’t get me wrong I still buy my one pair of black and one pair of brown shoes each season and continue to wear them into the ground. They reside in a pile in the back of my closest in loneliness and despair just yearning to be pulled out and appreciated. It is sad, but true, that I do not love and nurture my street shoes. Instead, look to a corner of my bedroom and you will see glossy red and black, silky bags. They are stacked in their own special container and hang from hooks on my walls. Each bag containing treasure. Yes, treasure! A pair of black and red leather open-toed sandals with a 4” stiletto heel. A pair of black suede and polished leather closed-toe with a 3” elegant, slender heel. Black and silver sparkly sandals! High heels, low heels, practice shoes, open-toed, close-toed. One pair I would actually enclose in a glass box and display on my mantle because they are too elegant to wear (and because they hurt my feet like you would not believe). As much as I love all these shoes, in reality, almost all were a mistake to buy. Why you might ask? Let me share…
I started my dance career in Ballroom so my first shoe purchases were a ballroom practice shoe with a 1.75” heel and an open-toed sandal with a 2.5” heel. Very plain and, of course, black. From there I have purchased many different shoes and styles and heel heights and have formed some of the following opinions and in the process discovered my own personal shoe preferences. I do have trouble with my feet so this has had a major impact on my experiences.
Ballroom shoes are extremely flexible with a very thin sole that conforms to your foot. Almost feels like you are dancing in bare feet. This gives you the sensation of being in extremely close contact with the floor. A feeling that makes my steps smoother and without bumps. To begin with I preferred using my ballroom shoes for dancing tango. But with the many new options available in tango shoes I am happy to transfer my allegiance. I had found in the past some tango shoes to be very stiff and hard and reduces my floor contact. I sometimes felt my steps were disjointed because I hit the floor too hard or too soon. Tango shoe quality has improved with time and there are many more designers and vendors to choose from now. Heel size has become very important for me. I have in my collection 3.75”, 3”, 2.75”, 2.5”, 2” and 1.75” heels. Anything above 2.5” causes increased pain in my feet. The higher the heel, the more pain I feel. If you have foot problems, please keep this in mind. Open-toe or closed-toe is another important consideration if you have foot problems. Closed-toe can increase my pain levels if there is no stretch to them. Too constricting equals pain. I have one pair of low heeled shoes which I find hard to wear because they are also closed-toe (beautiful red and black leather, sob, sob). Can I walk across a room in a comfortable, relaxed, balanced way or do I wobble and are my steps ending short and hitting the floor hard. Am I forced onto my heel to much. If I can’t walk in a pair of shoes then I can’t dance in them. In general you can find ballroom shoes to be less expensive then tango shoes and can be delivered within a week. If funds are a consideration and you also are not sure how far you are going to travel with tango, then they are a good beginning option. As you advance though you will find yourself searching for that elegant and unique tango shoe that was made just for you!
Websites I have used are listed below. Do a search for ballroom shoes and you will find many, many more. I was told when purchasing my first ballroom shoes to buy the open-toed ½ size less then my normal street size. This proved true for me and the shoes fit perfectly. However, for tango shoes, I use my normal street size. It might take one or two purchases before you figure this out for yourself.
Before buying on-line, check the yellow pages and find a dance shoe store in your town. You can go in and
try out sizes and styles and you might even find what you want on the spot.
Here in Tucson:
2934 E Broadway Blvd
Tucson, AZ 85716
They have revcently improved their selection. Rusty loves his pair of London Freed ($120) that have a tastefully stitched in piece of elastic in the side walls right over the arch that allows the shoe to flex better giving you more mobility in the foot (something you will become sensitive to very soon) and it is a very nice looking dress shoe – so you get both a comfortable shoe for practicing and a classy shoe for the milongas all in one!
There is a map here:
If you tell them that you are a student of Learn-to-tango.com you will get a 10% discount!
Star Dance Shop: Reasonably priced and has a Tango collection. Have brought a number of ballroom shoes from them and have been very satisfied. Haven’t tried their tango shoes yet.
DanceShoes 4U: Reasonably priced. Have not purchased yet, but only because I have not found a style, heel, size combination.
DanceSport Shoes: Middle to high end prices and selections. Have purchased from them and they are satisfactory.
Champion Dance Shoes: Middle to high end prices and selections. Have not purchased from this site.
Dance Shoes 4 Less Lower Priced good quality dance shoes.
Be aware that some of these sites order their shoes from Argentina or other countries so expect 4-6 week shipping delays.
Mr Tango Shoes by Jorge Nel
Jorge Nel shoes can be purchased ready made or custom made. I have been very happy with the last couple of shoes I have ordered from him. Jorge Nel is a regular vendor at the annual Tucson Tango Festival!
Yolanda’s collection includes a full line of ARTESANAL, COMME IL FAUT and NEO TANGO
women’s and men’s shoes, and fabulous all leather, swede and exotics
fabrics pratice sneakers from FABIO”S of Buenos Aires, also for men & ladies.
Turquoise are tango shoes designed and handmade in Istanbul by a team of dancers and shoemakers committed to creating comfortable, light, and beautiful footwear for dancers around the world.
Like the creators of Turquoise shoes, I believe that the most fruitful competition is not the one with others, but with ourselves: working on our chosen endeavor to attain utmost excellence. Turquoise follows this philosophy by continually perfecting their designs.
Turquoise Web Site
As with anything, finding your personal shoe style can be quite a fun journey but an expensive one. Take a look at what other people are wearing and ask them what do they like or dislike about their shoes. Tango does have a “look” to it and the shoes are an important segment of that “look”. However, Tango does come down to the dance. Keep in mind that you might find a fabulous, sexy looking ‘fashionable’ shoe that people will comment on as you walk across the room. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can dance in them well. My preference leans more to the fabulous dance then to the fashion statement. Although, my heart craves that beautiful, elegant deep blue with the sexy high heel and the soft leather straps that wind up you lower leg. Oh, well!
If anyone has a source they would like to share, a story or a personal comment please feel free to
Amor y luz to everyone!