Monday, January 23, 2012

From walking to dancing without changing your shoes.

For dancers who like to wear suits, yet don't always like to look like they are strictly wearing their shoes for dancing.

I tend to always wear a suit and tie when I dance, and, over time, I've come to the conclusion that I don’t like changing any part of my outfit when traveling between the car to the dance floor. Too much fuss! I’ve been asked by more than a few people about what footwear can best be used on days where you just want to be dressed up for walking about town and also be used for dancing... well, here is a bit of a dance shoe revue 2012, in order of what I'd most likely wear on the dance floor to what I'd least likely wear.

Price range is around $300 
Perhaps the best all around shoe you can find for working through the day, hitting the town, and then dancing. A good all day dress shoe. Allen Edmonds is one of two companies left in the USA that makes shoes the way they were made in the 1930s and 1940s. The other company is Alden. You can walk around in them all day and transition straight to the dance floor with no worry. I choose them over any other shoe when it comes to dancing for their sheer utility. One of the beautiful features of these shoes is that classic footbed with cork underneath. Over time this provides a custom imprint of your foot in the shoe. Just like Granddad used to wear.  Keep the uppers polished now and again, and have them resoled when you start seeing cork through the soles and these could last you a decade or more with good rotation between other pairs. 

Price range is around $100
One of the shoe companies that has put out more misses than hits in the last several decades. They tend to cause my feet to ache more than the Bostonian or Allen Edmonds ever will. This has been due to the footbeds of their shoes not truly forming to my feet. They feel very hard after a long day of wear and their cushioning inside is no replacement for a footbed that forms to your feet. Not too heavy, and okay as a dress shoe that can be worn dancing; yet, because of the materials used, the uppers and the soles tend to wear out faster than Allen Edmonds.

Bostonian (First Flex)
Price range is around $85
Bostonian used to be one of the higher end names back in the day, but the blush has fallen off that rose when it comes to quality of materials and construction. However, when it comes to a good beater dance shoe with which you can pound the pavement, there is no better dress shoe that lasts like a sneaker than the shoes made by Bostonian. One caution: this is a shoe that has an upper which doesn't appear to be a very nice porous leather. As a result, the uppers tend to crack after a few months of wear, so even polishing doesn't really give them that nice patina that it gives to better shoes. They also tend to cost as much to resole as they cost to buy a new pair. Still, when you really need a pair of shoes that can be walked in and danced in, and you don’t want to make a hefty investment, go for Bostonian. They have very hard rubber heels as well, so feel free to do heel slides.

Price range is around $110
This company's shoes look like they walked out of the 1920s, and have soles that are great for dancing. This makes them a good shoe if you are the sporadic dress shoe wearer who wants a really snazzy pair for dancing, but I don’t recommend them for daily wear as the uppers will wear out as fast as the soles if you are as abusive to dress shoes as I am. If you buy them, just realize this shoe isn’t really worth a resole. 

. The soles are great for dancing.

Price range is around $165
I was excited when I saw that Re-Mix was finally releasing a new style for men. I wasn’t excited about the fit. A bit too loose in the heel for my liking, and the construction is a little lower than that of dress shoes within the same price range. They are pretty light and have a leather sole and heel that are great for dancing. They have a very prominent arch support that also made my feel a little off when compared to the other offerings in which I was more at home with dancing and walking. More of a show shoe than a go shoe.

Price range is around $75
A shoe that I attempted to walk in before I decided I don’t want to wear them anywhere but on the dance floor. Specifically made as dance shoes, they are very lightweight and a standard among the top-notch dancers on the scene. I’m not a pro, yet I dance a lot so I bought a pair. They are fast on the floor, yet I have fickle feet that need a bit more support and a better footbed than these provide. I stopped wearing them when I started wearing Bostonians for dance purposes. Aris Allens are light weight, good for dancing but can’t take the walking. 

Price range is around $90
I remember when they released their Balboa shoe and it was a craze for everyone to have a pair back in swing’s revival. Like the Aris Allens, they are strictly dance floor shoes. They have a good classic color scheme yet are definitely not for anything but dance floor use as the uppers and soles will tear apart easily if taken on frequent sidewalk jaunts. The lifespan is short as the soles are much like a sponge. The soles will soon show how much dancing you’ve done as the color wears off the edges. Light weight, and  good for dancing, but not for walking.