Tango Shoes for Women

by Tracy Steindel

First and foremost, your shoes should be comfortable. We somehow forget that the minute we see something shiny and sexy. So it bears repeating: your shoes should be comfortable.

In addition to general comfort in a shoe, which will vary with each person’s foot, I look for the following qualities:

  1. Smooth sole on which I can pivot easily. If the sole is too sticky, I will have to work – even stress – my ankle to pivot. Some people like leather soles while others prefer suede. Some dance sneakers have rubber soles. (And it is possible to have some shoes re-soled.)
  2. Flexible sole. Thick platforms aren’t the best.
  3. Straps to keep the shoe on my foot. Shoes without backs are extremely difficult to dance in, as you’re always stepping out of them. Likewise, it is harder to stay in shoes without some sort of strap around the ankle or over the top of the foot.

What about the heel? You do not need a tall, skinny heel to dance tango. In fact, you do not need any heel at all! Heel height is entirely a matter of personal preference. Consider comfort – can you really dance in a four-inch heel for hours? Does a little heel help you stay on the balls of your feet? Also consider your balance.

For the first few years, I danced happily in a pair of character shoes. These are plain pumps with a smooth leather sole, a strap or two over the top of the foot, and a square-ish heel of one- to three-inches. They run around $40-60 and last very well. Capezio is a common brand, and you can find them at the Dancer’s Boutique next to Trader Joe’s (www.dancers-boutique.com).

There are several varieties of jazz sneakers that would work quite nicely. I have never danced in these, but I know several dancers who do. You might ask Solveig what she thinks of hers. You can also find shoes like this at the Dancer’s Boutique.

Simple ballet flats or jazz slippers work as well, though I prefer a shoe with a little more structure and support. If you want to know more about dancing in ballet flats, ask Liz. Again, you can find shoes like this at the Dancer’s Boutique.

“Real” tango shoes come in a variety of styles:

Comme il Faut are very well known and popular, and most followers have a pair or two.

  • The designs are unique; they only make a few in each pattern so that you’re not likely to have the same shoe as anyone else in your community. To protect their designs, you cannot see full pictures of the shoes on-line.
  • The shoes typically cost around $200.
  • While the shoes are gorgeous, I have not been pleased with the quality of the pairs I own. For a differing opinion, talk to any of the many followers who own pairs and love them; Tracey, Kate, Solveig, Liz, and Gloria come to mind.
  • On-line retailers will only display photos of details of the shoes on their websites, but they will often send a full picture upon request. Try http://www.carriechelsea.com/shoes.shtml or http://www.malevashoes.com
  • Alternately, shoe vendors occasionally come to festivals; you can hope that they come with a shoe in your size that you like.

NeoTango is another popular company with stylish, sexy shoes.

  • http://www.neotangoshoes.com
  • The shoes run around $170.
  • Again, you’ll either have to order on-line or hope that a vendor shows up at a festival with shoes in your size and style.
  • I don’t know their shoes very well, but I know Liz has a pair. She can tell you more about them.

My favorite, by far, is TangoLeike.

  • http://www.tangoleike.com
  • I have had one pair of their shoes for about a year, and I have been thoroughly impressed with the quality and the comfort.
  • The shoes are not commonly available in the United States, but you can order them on-line. In Argentina, they cost around $115 US.

Tara Tango Shoes

  • http://www.22tangoshoes.com
  • I have wanted a pair of these for years – they are supposed to be amazingly comfortable! There is a cork platform that cushions your feet. Mmmm.
  • These are around $150 on up.
  • If you want to know more, ask Mira or Maria how they like theirs.

There are a few distributors that sell several different brands. You might try http://www.diva-boutique.com or http://www.guaranteedfittangoshoes.com, which has been used by Liz, Kim, Tracey, and Ishani.

There are dozens of other shoe companies out there, including manufacturers who make custom-made shoes at very reasonable prices. Gloria, in particular, has shoes from several. I’d recommend speaking with her for more information about this.

I’ve heard it said that you know you’re hooked on tango when the value of your shoe collection exceeds the resale value of your car. If you want some shoes but don’t want to spend quite that much, keep your eye out for a used pair. Sometimes dancers in the community have a pair that just doesn’t work for them. There’s also an on-line shoe exchange at http://www.felinashoes.com/shoesexchange.html.