There are no rules when it comes to buying swing dance shoes but it’s super important that your shoes are comfortable. Spend time to find the correct size because you don’t want your foot to move too much in the shoe but also want to avoid rubbing. Leather shoes breathe better and will typically last longer than synthetics, but are a bit more expensive. Shoes that are made for swing dancers usually have a leather or suede sole.
Flats or heels
Most dancers prefer to dance in shoes without heel or a low heel. We wouldn’t recommend dancing in shoes with a heel higher than 5 centimeters. If you feel super comfortable dancing in heels you could consider purchasing higher heels for the dance style Balboa, which keeps you dancing a bit more on the spot. If you consider buying heels make sure the shoe is closed or has good straps because you don’t want your heels to come off during the dance 🙂 For balance purposes I wouldn’t go for thin heels.
Finding the perfect sole for every dance floor is hard and quite personal. Some dancers prefer a bit more sticky shoes with a lot of grip but for other dancers it can’t get slippery enough. Wooden floors work best for most dancers but aren’t always available. Your options basically are: rubber, leather or suede soles.
For me a rubber sole works on a really slippery and even floor but it will sometimes hinder my ability to turn or slide. It can work for faster dancing where you can use the extra grip to push yourself forward, away from the floor. Rubber shoes usually don’t work for a bit more lazy dancing where you don’t lift your feet so much. Your body might want to turn while your foot stays in one position. This can never end well 😉 Rubber soles often start out sticky, but get a bit more slippery as they wear down.
I like to dance in shoes with leather soles on almost every wooden floor. Leather soles will be quite slippery but the wooden floor usually creates the right amount of grip without losing the ability to turn or slide. The more slippery it gets the more your muscles have to work. If you keep your feet underneath yourself this usually works nicely.
Suede shoes usually give you a bit more grip than leather but less than rubber. This is also the only sole that you really shouldn’t wear outside in the usual rainy weather in The Netherlands. Water will not have a positive effect on your suede soles 🙂 When you use a small steel brush (sold at Praxis/Gamma etc for approximately €2,-) you can brush your suede soles when they get too slippery. You can also buy street shoes and have a shoemaker glue a suede sole onto them (they usually recognise it if you call it ‘dance leather’).
There are new brands of shoes made for dancers, or even specifically swing dancers, popping up each month. Below you can first find a list of my current favourites and then a list of every other brand I have ever heard of 🙂
- Slide & Swing
Affordable €115 – €135 (sometimes on sale: €70), made by and for swing dancers, leather shoes and soles, store in Barcelona, shipping within Europe for approximately €25, friendly customer service and they often have a stand at Lindy Hop events.
Young french brand, leather shoes, colourful, up to size 41 or 42, boots and derbies, €159 – €179
Simple cotton sneakers. Make sure you pick a model without structure on the sole for all your spins and turns. They have a nice ‘one for one’ initiative: with every product you purchase, TOMS will help a person in need.
Nice sneakers for dancers with narrow to normal width feet. Rubber sole that will get more slippery with use but also suitable to bring them to a shoemaker and add a suede sole.
- P.mela Swingin’ shoes
Pamela Gaizutyte creates a (very) limited amount of handmade leather shoes together with a cobbler in Vilnius, Lithuania. I think her idea is to create a new collection of shoes every season. Price: €220. Sold three collections so far: Swing Paradise limited edition, Be Clumsy/Be Brave and Autumn Romance). Pamela is an international swing dance teacher who tested the soles and boots with other swing dancing teachers and friends. I’m not sure what the status of her next collection is because the website is temporarily offline. You can follow her on Facebook or Instagram or sign up for her newsletter via firstname.lastname@example.org
https://www.facebook.com/swinginshoes/ / https://swinginshoes.com/ / https://www.instagram.com/swingin_shoes/
- Aris Allen – https://arisallen.com/
- Bounce Shoes – https://www.facebook.com/BounceShoes/
- Chloe Hong – http://fromchloehong.com/
- Dance Store – https://dancestore.com/
- Remix Vintage Shoes. More expensive (mostly because of shipping). They aren’t officially dance shoes, but they all have leather soles – www.remixvintageshoes.com
- Rita’s Shoes – https://www.facebook.com/ritasdancingshoes/
- Saint Savoy Shoes. Men and womens. Leather is a bit hard on some of the styles, so will take a while to break them in. Suited to an average or narrow width foot. – www.saintsavoy.com
- Savoy Cats. Mens and womens. Leather is a bit hard, so will take a while to break them in. Will last long – www.savoycats.com
- SuAli Swing Shoes – http://infosuali.wixsite.com/suali
- Swingz Begoña Cervera Lindy Shoes. This company made Flamenco dance shoes before they started selling womens shoes for swing dancing so the leather is very thick and a bit hard. They take a bit longer to break in. You can pick a model and then choose your own heel/fabrics/colours. – www.swingzlindyshoes.com
- Tranky Shoes. A newcomer, these are Italian-made swing dance shoes. – https://www.facebook.com/trankyshoes/