European Ballroom and Latin Dance Shoes, as created by the master shoemakers, are constantly evolving. The top ballroom dance shoe companies who have a long tradition of innovation, consult with the world’s best dancers to meet their needs and desires as well as take inspiration from the latest looks in popular European footwear.
Innovation: driven by the pros…
When any of our dance brands want to introduce a new dance shoe style, it must be flexible and light but strong and supportive. Dancers want strappy looks, but they also want a well-crafted piece of sports equipment that is strong enough to take the force and power that a professional athlete can bring to the dance floor. On top of those demands, the best dance shoes meet these demands while still looking like a work of art. Despite these constraints, we still see innovation and new concepts that are being enthusiastically embraced by dance professionals and enthusiasts.
Gel Padding: no longer an upgrade
Gel padding in the insole of dance shoes offers comfort and protection for the bottom of dancer’s feet. No longer an upgrade, gel or foam padding has become standard on most elite styles.
Both men and women can choose to upgrade the sole on International Dance Shoe’s competitive styles to an “XG” sole (which is likely an abbreviation for eXtra Grip). A specially crafted rubber insert is embedded into the traditional chrome leather sole for better grip on slippery floors.
Introduced a few years ago, International Dance Shoe’s (IDS) men’s Contra Pro, continues to be embraced by standard dancers for it’s innovative sole. By extending the sole of the shoe around the inside edge of the big toe, a drag strip reduces friction allowing for smoother lines.
The Contra Pro also has a rolled heel that extends the sole slightly up the back of the heel to facilitate smoother floor connection. This feature has now been extended to the men’s Rumba and the ladies Heather standard practice shoe (full shank) as well as the ladies latin equivalent the Heather Split with a flexible sole.
Men also have more choice than ever before with new colours and materials. Freed of London has made their popular Kelly shoe available in more colours and Port Dance has a new line of casual men’s dance shoes, that make a great men’s practice shoe or to the perfect pair of dance shoes to go with a pair of jeans at non formal events.
Women also have a new style that could be classified as following this new trend towards the “casual dance shoe.” This suede adjustable width dance shoe compliments a pair of skinny jeans with the latest look in fashion foot wear. However, it only looks like a street shoe, as it has the proper construction, support, chrome soles, strength and weight expected of premium dance shoes. A zipper on the back not only adds to the striking design, but allows the dancer to slip in and out of the shoe easily while still maintaining the desired lace configuration.
Practice Shoes: more popular than ever
It doesn’t matter if you are a pro, a teacher, or a social dancer. Practice shoes are a becoming a must for teaching, classes, and of course practice. However, despite the continued popularity of the basic black practice shoe like the best-selling IDS Heather Split, the trend towards choice, variety, and expressing your individuality is becoming prevalent.
In addition to patterns of lips, dogs, and splashes of colour, practice shoes are also now available in animal prints, a burberry-type print and for a more suitable evening look, eye catching sequin and specialty sparkling luxury materials are also options.
In addition to their previously introduced choices for their Heather Split, International Dance Shoes has also created a line with four different hand painted styles featuring the skylines of London, Tokyo, New York, and Shanghai. These special designs are available on the Heather and the Heather-split.
Individuality & Customization
Another way that dancers are customizing their shoes is by upgrading the soles to a coloured sole or a glitter sole. The most popular coloured sole is the red sole which has also been spotted as a trend in fashion street footwear.
In competition, the red sole looks very striking on the right style and adds some colour and attention to the feet while still maintaining the long-legged look that the tan and flesh satin provide. Dancers can also have their name in gold letters on their shoes, in addition to the more traditional made-to-order options that can be applied to dance shoes like material, width, heel style, and heel height, as well as the custom stoning and beading work that truly turns your dance shoe into the aforementioned ‘work of art’.
The trend is certainly towards glitz and glamour, as we are seeing a lot of gold and silver shoes at European competitions. This trend will eventually influence the styles of social shoes (non-competition) we will see this year, but right now glitter and metallics are hot.
The number one trend should always be fit. The best shoes are the ones that fit the shape of your foot best, and we will continue to offer shoes that meet the needs of all dancers. That means in addition to the trends discussed above, we have different heel heights, open and closed toe boxes, and shoes for wide feet, narrow feet, and sore feet (including bunions).