All you need to know about shoes for Salsa Cubana

We often get questions about shoes from our students regarding shoes, both when they start, and when they become advanced. So here is a summary of a few things to consider for shoes.

It is important to note, that we are a Cuban Salsa dance school and therefore our recommendation fits Salsa and does not necessarily apply to all dances.

Should I buy dance shoes?

Comfortable shoes can enhance your dance and kinder experience to your knees and overall feel.

For Beginners, we normally recommend withholding any purchase of professional dance shoes for one simple reason: You don’t know yet if it’s just a taste or if you continue to dance for a longer period of time. But of course, it’s up to you.

As you get more advanced, we recommend choosing the right shoes that enhance your dance and feel comfortable you. The right shoes can make the dance feel more natural and easy.

Cuban Salsa is relaxed about shoes

Cuban Salsa is a dance that is part street part ballroom, and therefore the shoes of choice for dancers range from sneakers to professional dance shoes. No shoe is objectively better – What you should consider is what you enjoy dancing in and your comfort.

Sneakers / Sport Shoes

Mox High Sole Sneakers in Pure White

Sneakers are the top choice for the majority of men & women.

Some of the benefits:

  • Comfortable for long periods of dancing and supporting
  • Nice grip on the floor
  • Relatively flexible.
  • The best category of shoes to support Afro-Cuban Styling.
  • Casual and can be used in open-airs and bad floors.

Main downsides:

  • Depending on the shoe the grip on the floor can sometimes be too much and make turns more difficult. (Sometimes it becomes better as the sole wears down).
  • Some sneakers have a hard sole that is not fully flexible.

Dance Sneakers Brands

In late years a few companies created sneakers specialized for dancers. They generally perform better than the majority of sneakers and you can count on them. Two brands that stand out are Bloch and Fuego. Bloch has some lightweight dance sneakers in stores that I couldn’t find online. They are light, perform well, and are rather affordable. Fuego shoes are rather expensive and are not objectively better, but everyone has their preference in style and feel, so you can check them too.

High heels

Dance high heels are often preferred by women. It is important to choose the right one. Normal high heels are not designed for dancing. There are special high heels for dancing, they are flexible, supporting, and built for good movement on the dancefloor. When choosing one be sure to ask the store owner for Salsa shoes. Some really pretty shoes are made for Tango but their sole is not flexible enough for the needs of Salsa.

Some of the benefits:

  • Dance high heels are built for dance and a good one should be supporting, relatively comfortable, and enable you to turn easily.
  • It is enhancing what is considered to be a feminine posture.

Main downsides:

  • While they can be relatively comfortable. A long period of dancing on high heels can be taxing.
  • Dancing in high heels might require some training. Many movements can be initially more difficult on high heels. (Especially Reggaeton or Afro-Cuban styling)
  • Dance high heels are usually (but not always) built for the dancefloor. Using them on a bad floor will quickly deteriorate the shoe sole.

Tips for first-time buyers:

  • Heel size: If it is your first dance shoe, take a 5 cm elevated heel. 7 cm is the popular height for dancers but can be more taxing.
  • Color: For your first shoe consider taking a color that works well with different outfits. Most women choose either a black, silver, or golden look for their first shoes. If you buy more shoes go as crazy as you want 😉
  • Sparkle: Don’t be afraid of sparkle if you like it. What looks over the top in everyday life might look rather normal on the dancefloor where the setting is darker and everyone is dancing.

Other dance shoes

There are various types of dance shoes that are worth experimenting with. In particular, there are two types of shoes that are worth a look at: Ballroom and Jazz. They are often favored by men since women tend to go with high heels, but it’s anybody’s choice really.

They are quite handy and built for the dancefloor. Some are comfy, and some look quite snazzy (often at the cost of some comfort). It’s hard to put them all in one box though, each can be different. Unfortunately, many have a look about them that is not favored by most Cuban Salseros. They are also built for the dancefloor and their usage on other floors will deteriorate their soles usually.

Spot Sticker

A new innovation is a spot sticker which can be placed theoretically in any shoe to make it more “slidey” on the dancefloor. That way you can wear any shoe you like making it more dance-ready. It works by placing one or two stickers, normally one at the ball of the feet and optionally one at the heel.

While I own these, I have yet to try them out. So at present, I cannot give an honest review, but it is intriguing for sure. From the choice of having fabric on the sticker, I assume it will work much better for Parquet and smooth dancefloors, while it will probably deteriorate quite fast if used for street dancing.

Check out the Bloch’s Spot Stickers here.

Other shoes

You can dance to anything really as long as it works out for you and support your feet: Oxford shoes, boat shoes, loafers, etc… The nicest thing about some of them can be their smooth sole that enables easy turns. I find that many of them are quite uncomfortable though for the purpose of dance.

Shop recommendation in Berlin

Pro Danse is one great shop for dance shoes in the middle of Berlin. If you say you are coming from La Candela’s recommendation you might get a 5% discount.

Hacke & Spitze is another great option with a versatile collection.

Lastly, we can recommend Rumpf as an online dance merchandise store from Germany.