kurt lichtmann

My shoe reviews   
Where to get 'em
Shoe Dangers
Salsa Music Song List
Slow Salsa Music: Beginners
Usually, you want dance shoes (1) lightweight, (2) fitting close to the foot, not much length & width outside the foot, (3) able to spin easily (suede / leather bottom), (4) good cushioning & arch support - insole can be added. It is tough to do fancy footwork in a big, heavy shoe - if you don't do fancy footwork, no prob.
    Serious dancers have one pair for classes & practice, and fancy pairs for social dance. But some people (mostly GUYS) have a thing about this: "Salsa is a street dance. I dance in street shoes, period." Even among our top dancers, I have seen some "interesting" shoes in da club - included.
funny salsa dance ithaca

Latin High Heels - Feeling daring? The open-toe, sandal high heel is pretty hot. Usual colors include bronze or black. There are numerous versions of this style, with mesh, rhinestones, etc. Dance shoes have cushioning - you need this expecially for salsa. T-strap, double T-strap or X-strap to stabilize your foot in the shoe is necessary. Generally, shoes with this look run $70 - 400. Pictured is the Dancesport Salsa 645 at $175 USD. Available in 2.2", 2.5" or 2.75" heel. This retailer has a huge range of ladies styles.
Dancing Shoes 4 U (find by ebay seller ID search) on ebay has some very nice $32.95 free shipping women's salsa shoes! AND they are in the USA! Perfect for ballroom, balboa, and tango as well. On the left, a wide heel base, AND they look great - the gold ones, the all-red ones, other colors as well. My dance partners say that they feel perfect. As usual, we bought two sizes, and returned the ones that were too small - Good return policy.
Ballroom shoes - A common choice for guys. They have all the right characteristics. 1" heels is standard. I prefer the lower heel, but then again, I am already 6 ft tall. You will always see some variation of these on the dance floor. Many various designs. Pictured: Supradance Men's Smooth 4000 at $169.00 USD from Showtime Dance

Latin shoes - You will always see someone with the 2-inch cuban heel on the salsa floor. They are also common in the ballroom world. Why a tall guy wants another 1" - 2" in height is beyond me - shorter guys, sure. Perhaps I am in the minority, but I don't like the effemiate look to these, and I don't like the way they pitch the weight forward. I prefer a more grounded movement style, but others like these shoes for same reasons. Pictured: Capezio Men's Latin Oxford at $111.00 USD - thse particular shoes are a favorite of some Dancesport champions.

Mr Tango custom dance shoes for men and women - I like these custom shoes for Salsa, Ballroom, and even Swing. Many more custom options than Stepnout (below). Lightweight, perfect fit (trace the feet!) Although intended for Tango, they are perfect of Salsa and Ballroom, and always get admiring comments. Pictured is the Milonguero. The company was founded by Jorge Nel, renowned dancer, instructor and choreographer. For about $120+, you get a great and distinctive shoe..... I won't tell you how many pairs of these I have. It does take some time, say 3 months. Nice folks. Made in Columbia, and finished in the USA. Problem? They will keep at it until they get it right. 800.936.9537 Miami FL.
Stepnout custom dance shoes made in the USA. Perhaps you like the Cap Toe or Spectator, but you are tired of the norm. Many styles for guys and gals. Very lightweight. 6-8 weeks wait. It's worth the wait. Under $150. Ask for Ginni at No custom fit at Stepnout - standard sizes only.

Character Shoes - A low heel, a modest look. Closed toe for dance floor safety and modesty. T-strap version available as well. Capezio and others make these. Very popular to start out, wide heel for balance. Suitable for ballroom as well. You can find these for under $40.00 USD.
Roberto Cavalli - These $1495.00 USD high heels are rather attractive, but aren't designed to be dance shoes. Without a T-strap, double T-strap or X-strap to stabilize your foot in the shoe, it is going to be tough to do any footwork.. And when they get stepped on (more than once) how happy will you be? They are great for photo ops, and your shoe altar, but to wear to the club?
Zilli Wingtips - Even though they are not designed for dancing (meaning heavier and bigger than optimum), you may be itching to wear these to the club. BUT, the painful reality of the irrevocable abuse your fabulous Italian Zilli spectator shoes at $1595.00 list will suffer on the dance floor is overwhelming. Better to build a display for them at the home front, and wear them for those magazine cover shots or website photos with your glamorous, gorgeous dance partner in her sexy Cavalli's (above).
D Sinclair Speakeasy Oxford - 100% Leather, Woven leather upper, Sheepskin inner lining, Leather sole, $96.99. More for the look than for dancing, but just as danceable as others above in its "look" class. Comfy? Oh, yes. Available at Amazon.

Sansha Salsette III - my current all-purpose favorite - for teaching and long hours of club dancing - all dance styles. Suede sole is standard. Great internal memory foam cushioning. Mesh uppers breath, and help make the shoe very lightweight. Insane low price: $25. Of course, I have a second pair with hard leather soles, treated with floor wax. Sizing: a men's street 10 to a Sansa size 15, way more than their suggested equivalent.

Dance Sneakers - Bloch, Capezio, Danskin. Not super spinny, but you can get a leather sole put on at a good shoe repair place These Bloch Boost DRT's also come in black (guys?), and other colors. They have plenty of cushioning & support, maybe too much? Some of these dance sneakers put you so far off the floor, you don't even know there is a floor. If you are short, you will be taller. Slight disadvantage: if you are tall, it will make you lots taller.
Jazz shoes: Lots of ladies have had a decade plus of previous Jazz classes, and own a beat pair of jazz shoes. These Sansha JS3's have a split sole, wth a suede bottom! A mere $13.00 !?!?! Super low to the floor, ultra lightweight, ultra ast footwork shoe. The Lycra and Spandex form closely to the foot, and has a great look. Protect your feet! Your feet take a beating in salsa. Add a top quality memory foam or Spenco rubber insert. More? Wear Thorlo walking socks WX13 - great padding, moisture wicking (yes, you CAN get black Thorlos). Are you TALL? Why wear shoes that are going to make you tower over your partners even more? Sizing is a pain: I wear a solid men's 10 - the SJ3 size 14 finally fit me great.
Oxfords - the wingtip is a type of Oxford. Typical oxfords tend to be heavy, with thick soles, not optimized for dancing. Many these days have a rubber sole. It may be possible for your shoe repair expert to replace the rubber sole with leather or suede. Yes, I've done that on a pair of beloved shoes. It worked out great. They are a bit heavy, but they have the LOOK for those special occaisions! I guess these $1830.00 USD Berluti Rapiécés Reprisés are a bit overkill for the club, but how could I not include them?
Penny Loafers - A laid-back looking shoe, BASS Weejuns are the classic Carolina Shag shoe as well. Although not particularly suited to Salsa, if you tend to slide around the floor, these could work for you.,
Tango Shoes - Some women like laced tango shoes,noce chance of them slipping around on the foot. Others prefer the hot look of high heels (with fish-net stockings, tight short dress, etc.). Lycra material looks way cool for men or ladies. And you don't need to polish it! World Tone Music (NYC) has them. Also Showtime Dance Shoes, Georgia.
Spectator Shoes - not just for swing. You will find these on the salsa and tango floor as well. There are plenty of versions of the famous Odford variant Spectator aka Wingtip aka Co-respondent shoe. You don't need to spend $574.00USD for these sexy Harry's Of London specs. Aris Allen makes some nice $80 specs for dancing, Supradance as well, etc.
Moschino - at $595.00 USD, these are pretty, but not so good for salsa. They don't hug the foot enough for footwork: no T-straps or X-straps to hug the foot to the shoe. And of course, there is the emotional pain of these pricey little numbers getting tromped on all night long. Nice for a picture of you and your drop-dead gorgeous dance partner in some amazing lift of dip on the magazine cover....
Cap Toe Shoes - a type of Oxford. Admitedly, an excuse to picture these Brown Saint Andrews Co-Respondents at $600.00 USD. Wear these with dark brown pant & dark brown shirt, gold tie - and you are a fine-looking dude. But these pair are a bit big and heavy, and susceptible to permanent scuffing while dancing in the club. But they are great for photo ops.
Basketball Shoes - Not so good for salsa: they are engineered to grip the floor. They take up a lot of dance floor space, and they aren't meant to flex. But indeed, people show up for salsa dancing wearing these.
Running Shoes - Not so good for salsa: they grip the floor,
If the treads are worn down smooth, maybe tolerable. otherwise, they are floor-grippers and bouncy.
Motorcycle Boots - Not recommended (for obvious reasons?). But I have seen them on some top notch latino dancers in the club. For the rest of us, these boots don't lend to fast footwork, that's for sure. They are BIG and HEAVY, and the chances of stepping on our partner's feet, or on the feet of other couples, is enhanced, as well as the ensuing pain and guilt. Imagine dancing with a lady wearing the footwear shown below......
Flip-Flops - Some people love to dance salsa in beach thongs. Well, rock on dudes and dudettes. What can I say? I wouldn't recommend flip-flops, however - loose fitting, no support, not spin-worthy, etc..
Canvas tennis shoes -If you like bopping around in your favorite old keds tennies, you will probably show up at salsa lessons in them as well. But, they are not a great choice for salsa: they grip the floor somewhat, If the treads are worn smooth, maybe ok.

Bare Feet - Not so good for salsa: unless you are in a real "roots" kind of mood. Bare feet grip the floor, you cannot spin. it hurts more when you get stepped on, or stub your toe. It is pretty hard on the balls of your feet. In spite of all this, some people like to dance barefoot or sock footed.

Dance LIGHTLY on a clean rug to try out new shoes. Returning scuffed shoes is an impossibility!
Find out return-exchange policy BEFORE you order. Minimize grief!
Body Gear - Ithaca NY
center of Ithaca Commons.
Local to Ithaca NY. In Ithaca, try here first. Capezio, Danskin and Bloch Dance Sneakers. Ballroom & Latin shoes. Exchanges only, no refunds. Nice folks.
Dance Fashions
(800) 624-6480 catalog
Lowest prices and fast delivery
$19.95+ship for Jazz Oxfords #117.
$34.95+ship for Jazz Sneaker #214
Dancesport Shoes
Nebraska (402) 498-8700
Dancesport shoes, Supradance, Capezio,
Freed Of London, International
Lots of great classic salsa shoes for ladies
New York Dance Store
South Carolina 800-398-9562
Lots of Sanshas you didn't know existed.
Ballroom, Salsa, Swing shoes.
Minimum order $40.

World Tone Music
New York City
(212) 691-1934 catalog

Options galore and fast delivery:
Jazz oxfords $26-$60. In stock, fast delivery.
Crownsville, MD
Great clothes, too. Aris Allen spectator shoes..
Great source for wide-leg swishy dance pants,
various colors, materials!
Showtime Dance Shoes
Georgia (800) 433-5541.
Options galore and fast delivery: Ballroom, Tango, Salsa shoes for guys and gals. In stock, fast delivery.
Miami FL
Custom dance shoes for gals and guys. Exact foot tracing, most number of heel height options I have found. I am perfectly ecstatic with the numerous pairs I have ordered.
Mauston WI
(800)335-2668 catalog
Custom dance shoes for gals and guys. I am pretty happy with my pair. Ask for Ginni Hustad.

Amazing selection for the ladies - high quality shoes. Dance clothing also. Nice pic of Antonio Banderas on the homepage - I wonder if he and his dance partner in the movie wore shoes from this retailer on the set?


QUESTION: Can I mess up my feet, ankles and knees with my favorite shoes?

1. If you don't have enough CUSHIONING on the bottom, or if the shoes are too NARROW, or if you don' thave enough ARCH SUPPORT, you won't notice the pain much during the excitement of dancing, but over weeks and months, you can cause long term injury to the muscle tissue, or to the nerves between the metatarsal bones, around the ball of the foot. You will definitely notice it when you sit down, and the next day and the next, when you are just walking around. You can develop a very long-term condition (years!) known as Morton's Neuroma (swollen metatarsal nerves) - this is a NOT rare syndrome.

2. Arch support - ever hear of fallen arches? You need decent arch support. Some dancers have very high arches - arch supports will also keep some of the weight off the balls of your feet, very helpful if you dance down deep into the floor (more or less Cuban style).

3. Trying to spin in shoes that grip the floor? (rubber soles) really hard on your knees and ankles. Better to walk through those turns heel-toe style if you are wearing floor-grippers, or on difficult floors.

4. Loving the look of those too-tight shoes? Watch your toes slowly go numb - leave some room for toes, please. As above, shoes that are too tight are conducive to swollen metatarsal nerves and Morton's Neuroma.

5. You will find out soon enough if your shoe/sock combo is giving you blisters. The wounds will heal eventually.You don't need me to tell you to find other shoes, or use some preventative pads, or whatever. I suggest some slippery socks, like Thorlos. Adidas and Nike make some socks for runners that are great for dancing - padding, ventilation, moisture control, and they don't cause blisters. No more cotton socks for me. Perhaps try a trick used by many runners and hikers: wear two pairs of socks: an INNER pair (thin and slippery) and an OUTER pair for cushioning.

6. Do your heels wear down at an angle toward the outside? As the heels wear more and more, it is pretty rough on your KNEES JOINTS! Fix the heels or get new shoes.

salsa dance - author with Isabella Hanu
salsa dancers - the author with Isabella Hanu

Beach Boys Fun Fun Fun Swing Dance Kurt Lichtmann Vicki Alexander   Footloose Swing Dance Kurt Lichtmann Erica Mallare