Saturday, April 11, 2015

Ballroom Tip: Men's Competition Shoes

Men’s Competition Shoes

Continuing this little series on dance shoes, today we’ll discuss men’s competition shoes.  Standard and smooth men compete in patent leathers; latin and rhythm men use Cuban heels.

Men’s patent leather dance shoes are merely a patent leather version of the calfskin shoes discussed earlier this week.  Patent leather has been treated with multiple coatings to produce its characteristic shiny finish, though the coatings also make the shoes less flexible and prone to sticking together.  This can be a problem when one is trying to close one’s feet nicely.  International Dance Shoes actually wraps the sole of their men’s shoes up onto the inside edge of the ball of the foot, so that the suede sole touches when the feet are closed instead of the patent leather.

Patent leather shoes, though, complete the elegant evening wear look expected of standard-dancing gentlemen.  They were the only footwear acceptable with tailsuits, and only black or burgundy to-the-knee socks could be worn with them.  In more modern times, though, men should stick with black socks.

When a man starts competing latin or rhythm seriously, he starts dancing in Cuban heels.  These leather or canvas shoes have the same shape around the foot as the basic calfskin, but with a 1.5 inch heel.  I always smile when I see men wearing them for the first time; they kind of tip-toe around, unwilling to put weight on the heel, and are suddenly much more appreciative of what their partners can do in their 3 inch heels.  The purpose of heels for men or women in latin is to bring the weight more forward, as this helps produce the proper hip and leg action.  This also means that switching between shoes of different heights is going to require adjusting your balance all the time, and I don’t recommend it.  If at all possible, practice in what you will perform in.

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