Whether it’s for casual dancing or you’re headed to the competitions, the perfect salsa dance needs the perfect salsa shoes, and in this article we’re going to take you through everything you need to know about salsa shoes before you start looking for that perfect pair.
What makes a good pair of Salsa Shoes?
As salsa is a type of Latin ballroom dance, salsa shoes have a lot in common with other ballroom dance shoes, although shoes for salsa do have some key characteristics to look out for.
Salsa Shoes Need a Leather or Suede Sole
Like ballroom dance shoes, salsa shoes should have a sole made of either leather or suede to enable you to step and spin with ease.
For beginners, the slipperiness of a leather sole can take a bit of getting used to. Some early dancers wear slightly scored leather soles to provide a small amount of traction while they’re learning.
You don’t want too much traction though. Shoes with too much grip can cause the feet to stick to the floor which risks serious injury if your feet stay in one place while the rest of your body follows through with the motion.
Which is better – leather or suede? Both provide excellent surface traction for dancing although suede soles do require some upkeep as they tend to collect grime and also wear slick after a bit of use. Cleaning your suede soles with a specially designed suede sole brush will help keep your suede soles in pristine condition.
Salsa Shoes Need to Provide Flexibility and Support
A good pair of salsa shoes needs to provide enough flexibility to allow your feet to move naturally with the step, but at the same time the shoe needs to support your heel and arch and keep your foot firm and stable and prevent injury.
Salsa shoes don’t require the same degree of flexibility as some other dancing shoes but you will want a pair with some give.
Leather or firm synthetic shoes provide better all over foot support than shoes made of canvas or other cloth.
Salsa Shoes Need Inner Cushioning
Salsa shoes are generally more padded than other types of dancing shoes. Good cushioning not only protects your feet from injury, but also provides shock absorption to protect your ankles, knees and hips while you dance.
The best salsa shoe will provide cushioning throughout the entire shoe inner and not just across the footbed area.
Salsa Shoes Need a Moderate and Wide Heel
While salsa dancing, your weight moves around the foot – from ball of the foot to the heel and back again. A raised heel makes this movement easier, helping to correct your weight placement and smoothly alter your posture.
For men and women, a 1” to 2” heel is ideal.
For men’s salsa shoes, some dancers prefer to wear a wedge style heel. This provides elevation of the sole while still retaining the full foot contact with the floor to better judge your step. Other men will happily wear a Cuban heel or standard style of ballroom dance shoe with no problems.
To allow for comfortable and firm weight placement, the heels on women’s salsa shoes should be wider than a standard ballroom shoe, so look for a wide heel or a flared heel.
Salsa Shoes Need an All-Over Secure Fit
A well-fitting salsa shoe is imperative for performing your best dance as well as providing the stability and comfort you need for foot health and safety.
With so much back and forth movement, a salsa shoe needs a snug fit all over the foot, and especially in the heel. For this reason, many salsa dancers prefer a closed heel rather than a sling back strap.
Shoes with buckles or laces are preferable to slip on shoes for both men and women’s salsa shoes.
What Are The Best Salsa Shoes?
Some salsa dancers recommend training in a pair of dance sneakers or jazz shoes, before moving onto salsa shoes while you’re still learning. However, other recommend putting on a pair of genuine salsa shoes from the beginning. When you’re learning your steps, you’re learning how to move and balance. Changing from one set of shoes to another forces your feet into a different balance which can impede your learning. So, getting into a good pair of salsa shoes from the beginning is your best way to start your dancing out on the right foot.
In this section, we’re reviewing the best shoes for salsa dancing available in 2013, looking at all of the features that makes a good salsa shoe as well as shoes that offer excellent value for money.
These salsa shoes from Capezio will suit beginners and pros alike. The Katusha features a flexible sole and suede outsole. The heel is wide and centered to provide maximum stability and the inner is fully cushioned, providing excellent comfort and shock absorption to protect the feet.
These shoes ensure a perfect fit with an adjustable ankle strap and T-bar, and the buckle is also self-locking so you can get in and out of them quickly.
Katusha are the perfect balance between sophisticated elegance and value for money. They are available in several colors are come in a medium width.
Pros – Self-locking buckle very useful for quick costume changes.
Cons – Rhinestones might not be suitable for some professional competitions.
Capezio’s Ashley are excellent shoes, engineered to the unique movements of the salsa dance. Ashley follows the natural flexibility of the moving foot while the multiple interwoven straps, T-bar and adjustable ankle strap provide a secure and comfortable fit. Ashley also has a leather sole for perfect traction.
The lining of this salsa shoe is particularly impressive, with a unique dual layer memory foam construction allowing articulated cushioning around the entire foot that adheres perfectly to your foot every time you put your shoes on. There is also a slightly thicker cushion point under the heel for extra support.
The lining is also made of moisture absorbent, anti-fungal material to ensure maximum breathability, comfort and foot health.
Ashley features a 2 inch flared heel and is available in cinnamon tan, in either medium or wide width.
Pros – Excellent cushioned, memory foam lining with unique moisture controlling properties
Cons – The added padding on the heel may alter the comfort of the fit for some dancers.
These men’s salsa shoes from Stephanie are an excellent option for any man wanting a professional standard of dance shoes at a value for money price.
With soft black leather uppers, these shoes feature a flexible split leather sole for maximum maneuverability. They also feature a unique five hole lace deign to ensure a perfect fit across the top of the foot, as well as a padded insole for comfortable cushioning. The sides are also perforated to allow for breathability and moisture control.
The 1” heel gives enough leverage to support the full range of salsa movements without being too high to impede sensitivity to the floor while dancing.
Pros – perforated leather sides
Cons – soft leather upper can mark and wear easily
Nina is an elegant salsa shoe from Sansha, perfectly matching performance with a discount price. Nina features a suede sole with a flexible footbed. The Nina is fully lined and the delicate satin finished straps, with an x-strap ankle provide a comfortable and secure fit. The heel is 3” which makes these salsa shoes a touch higher than standard salsa shoes, but more experienced dancers should accommodate easily.
The Nina is available in tan or black. These shoes do run very narrow so consider ordering a size up from your street shoe size.
Pros – discount salsa shoes
Cons – Tight, narrow fit. Heel may be a touch high for beginner salsa dancers.
This salsa shoe from DanceNwear is a perfect option for beginner dancers or those looking for a pair of authentic but cheap salsa shoes to practice in.
This enclosed shoe, with a suede sole and synthetic upper, provides excellent stability and support. The covered toe is also a good choice for anyone teaching a beginner to dance and wanting that extra protection on their toes.
The buckle strap provides excellent fit, adjustable to just about any foot shape and the lining ensures a comfortable and cushioned support.
Available in black or tan, DanceNwear offers this salsa shoe in a good range of sizes from 4.5 to 10. For most feet, this comfortable salsa shoe will run true to street size.
Pros – Cheap option for a good pair of practice shoes
Cons – Synthetic uppers might not offer the durability of a leather shoe and are not as breathable.
Whatever style of salsa you’re dancing, there are a pair of salsa shoes out there to give your feet the security and comfort and maneuverability you need. With our must read guide, now there’s nothing standing in the way of you finding your perfect salsa shoes and dancing your way to exciting new heights.