1. COMFORT IS KING.
2. SLIPPERY IS LOVE, SLIPPERY IS LIFE.
3. FRICTION IS THE ENEMY.
4. WEAR WHAT YOU LIKE AND CAN AFFORD.
So, let’s say you’re new to “the Lindy Hop” and wind up at a social. You’ve donned your sneakers and you’re ready to get on the dance floor. But, you’re struck by terror when you see that everyone is wearing different types of shoes. There’s a pair of sneakers like yours, a lot of flats, Converses, Keds, and several intimidating pairs of leather shoes that seem to just glide across the floor. Did you bring the wrong shoes? What shoes should you bring?
Should they be:
• slippery or sticky?
• period-appropriate or modern?
• expensive or cheap?
Before anything else, your dancing shoes should be comfortable. No one wants to wear shoes that hurt their feet when they’re walking and the same is true for dancing. Dancing shoes should have good padding on the soles and they shouldn’t rub your ankles raw nor should they give you blisters. If you’re afraid that they will, wear ankle socks.
Slippery shoes are your friend… if you have some experience. If your shoes are too slippery, the dance floor will be like ice underfoot and you will fall on your face. If your shoes are too sticky, the stress of moving, turning, and spinning will go straight to your joints and, well, that’s how you get benched. The ultimate enemy of dancers is friction.
The slipperiest shoes have leather soles and the stickiest shoes have a patterned, rubber sole – think of converses or sneakers. You can make a pair of sticky shoes slippery by slapping some felt onto the sole. This is a great way to work up to your first pair of bona-fide leather-soled shoes, however, you can’t use them for walking because you’ll destroy the felt.
As for “appropriateness”, it’s up to your style. However, if everyone else has their glad-rags on, it makes sense that you should break out that pair of good-looking shoes. If it’s just for social nights or practice time, wear shoes that are comfortable and don’t glue you to the floor. Don’t worry about your practice shoes getting dirty, that just means they are well-loved.
Now, you don’t need to go out and buy a pair of expensive shoes right away. That’s a straight path to disappointment and buyers’ remorse. Dancers should “grow” into fancy shoes. When you first start dancing, you won’t have any idea what are “good” dancing shoes and what are “bad” dancing shoes. Put in some hours on the dancefloor with your new felt shoes, ask the veterans of the scene, and don’t be afraid to make a few mistakes.
You’ll be a pro in no time. That’s it from me, hoppers! See you next time.
Article by Phillip Harvey