The soles of men’s and women’s tango shoes should have a leather or suede sole.
This enables you to pivot and slide smoothly while providing traction enough so you won’t slip.
Tango shoes need to be comfortable, so you’ll ideally be looking for shoes that have a soft lining, preferably leather.
As long as your foot is comfortable and the padding does not impede your flexibility nor your sensitivity to floor contact, the choice of lining thickness is generally personal.
Flexible Thin Soles
Tango Shoes Should Have Thin, Flexible Soles
A thin sole is important as it enables you to feel the ground, assisting with your balance and foot placement. This is important for men but particularly important for women’s high heels. The sole also needs to be flexible to enable it to move with the natural contours of your feet and your rhythm.
In regular ballroom dance shoes, the sole will be supported by a steel shank (flat metallic strip) to provide arch support. In Argentine tango shoes, this shank is considerably shorter to enable greater shoe flexibility.
Other Factors When Choosing Tango Shoes
Heel Cage and Straps
Your choice between an open or closed heel cage is a personal one, and most beginners worried about the security of their feet will choose a closed heel cage and or a closed toe. Open cages are still secure, especially with thicker straps. Some shoes have a combination style cage.
All straps should fit snugly but not bind or cut the feet in any way.
Your toes should actually stick out past the front and there should be no give anywhere in the shoe. If they are smooth they should be super tight, to the point that if you kick with all your strength the shoe does not come off.
Do You Need Practice Tango Shoes?
Most tango experts recommend practicing in the same shoes you’ll be wearing to your Milonga, and don’t recommend practicing in flats, low heels or fitness trainers.
Balance is an important part of learning the tango and switching between low and high heels impedes your balance training. Besides, the high tango heel is a pillar of the tango dance tradition.
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