From Han Christian Andersen’s Red Shoes to Cinderella’s glass slippers, dance shoes have often been imbued with magical qualities. So how important is it to get the right shoes when dancing the Charleston? Whilst in many dance forms just bare feet is fine, The Charleston really does require the right footwear.
The main reason shoes are so important in Charleston is so you can swivel the feet; the foot swivel is a defining characteristic of the Charleston style so non-grip shoes are a must. Back in the day dance floors were waxed and offered a lot of glide, modern dance floors and studios are smooth but not slippy. The dilemma then is getting shoes which offer some glide but not so much that you end up kissing the floor with your bum. Another thing to consider is how much support the shoes offer the foot, if you have weak ankles or collapsed foot arches you will need more supportive shoes.
So here is the low down on shoes we know and love and the pros and cons of each …
Greek Sandals – Cheap, light, strike a good balance between grip and slide. The down side is they don’t offer much support and they definitely aren’t outdoor shoes, so save them for the dance studio and you’ll perfect your swivel in no time.
Jazz Trainers – More on the grippy side but offer good support to the foot, super comfy and hardwearing.
Jazz Shoes – Light and good for swivel, again they offer limited support but one up on Greek sandals.
Toms – These fashion shoes are very popular in the Lindy Hop scene. They are a solid pair of shoes, good on swivel but the soles don’t offer great flexibility.
Character Shoes – A lot of dancer find a bit of heel is actually quite helpful. I’m a big fan of character shoes but would advise going to a dance shop and getting ones which are a really good fit, if the feet are in any way sliding within the shoes you will feel unstable.
Fashion Shoes – Well its luck of the draw but some of the best shoes people have showed up to class in have been bought in Charity Shops – Win! Often in the style of pumps or brogues the best ones tend to be made of softish leather and with leather soles which offer glide.
Well happy shoe shopping and please keep us update with your posts on shoes that work for you.