In Dance World, we know a lot about shoes. People often ask us for guidance and tips for keeping dance shoes in good condition.
Ballroom shoes can be an investment, and whether you dance professionally or socially, we can help your shoes last longer. Here are our 5 golden nuggets of advice on how to keep your ballroom shoes in tip-top shape!
Top tips for keeping dance shoes in good condition:
1. Do not wear ballroom shoes outside
This should go without saying but dance shoes are indoor shoes. A suede sole will pick up dirt and moisture very quickly from any surface it comes in contact with. If you wear your ballroom shoes outside, even only a short distance across the car park to your car, you will pick up far more moisture and grime than you’ll find indoors. Suede soles become waterlogged, peel off and you’ll need to replace them far sooner if you treat them as outdoor shoes. If your suede soles do become damaged they can be easily replaced by a cobbler. You can buy replacement suede soles here.
2. Air dry ballroom shoes after wear
When you dance you sweat, this includes your feet! Make sure that you properly air out your dance shoes when you take them off. It’s easy to forget and throw them into your bag with the rest of your gear but air-drying your ballroom shoes will make them last so much longer. Sweat is wet and moisture will cause your shoes to degrade. It can discolour satin and leather and unsurprisingly can make for a pretty smelly shoe. Excess moisture can also cause soles to peel prematurely. We recommend ensuring you have a mesh shoe bag with you to carry your shoes home in. Then allow them to dry in a well-ventilated space out of direct heat and sunlight, i.e. not on a radiator. Make sure you store the shoes in a clean dry spot between wears.
3. To maintain the grip use suede soles
If you flip your ballroom shoes over you’ll probably notice that the sole does not look quite the same as your normal trainers or boots. Most ballroom and Latin dance shoes have suede soles. A suede sole allows the shoe to glide along the floor without sticking or sliding. Suede soles wear quite rapidly, however, and become shiny and smooth. Once this happens the shoe has no grip and will no longer glide but slip. To maintain the grip of your suede soles you can brush the soles with a wire brush. Once the wire has brushed a texture back into the suede you should have sufficient grip to dance on. Be careful not to accidentally brush or catch the upper material; a shoe brush can cause a lot of permanent damage on satin, leather or any other fabric. You should ideally brush suede soles after every second use on an indoor surface.
4. Wear heel covers to prolong the life of your ballroom shoe
Heel covers are an easy-peasy way to prolong the life of your ballroom shoe. Heels experience a lot of wear and tear. By simply covering them with a plastic heel cover you can drastically limit the damage. Not only will this limit the stress on your shoe, but the covers can give you extra grip on the dancefloor.
5. Look after your feet
You only get one set of feet in this world so look after them! Make sure to have your dance shoes correctly fitted. Wearing shoes either too small or too large causes stress on your body. This can result in all sorts of issues like tendonitis, bunions, and shin splints. This is not something you need to deal with so make sure you don’t have to! Most dance stores offer appointments for specialised shoes and the staff in niche retailers generally know their stuff. Trained staff will ensure you find the best shoe for you.