When trying to choose the best tango shoes as a beginner you may get easily confused. All the movies you’ve watched have elegant ladies dancing in high heels, mastering the most complicated movements, but when you try to do even the easiest turn in those, your whole routine turns into a mess.
However, you don’t want to keep dancing in your socks, no matter how comfy they are. You need to bring out the femme fatale in you and she does not wear comfy socks, but these heels you can’t yet rock on the dance floor. I know, I’ve been there too and it is frustrating. Good news is that with a little patience and the right shoe choice, you’ll get there. Yes, you’ll get El Tango de Roxanne right.
If you are already a professional and the heel height is not a concern anymore, you might be wondering about other key features that make your choice just a little more difficult than it has to be. What is the appropriate type of support for your foot arch? How can you spot the well balanced shoes that will offer you the equilibrium you need when standing on one foot? What is the best kind of sole? What is the best material to choose from? Which one will prevent sweaty feet?
If you’ve ever wondered about any of these key features, here’s a list of five shoes that I believe will satisfy your needs:
#1: Nude Metallico by Comme il Faut
My number one recommendation is the Nude Metallico by Comme il Faut and it couldn’t come from anywhere else but from the heart of tango, Buenos Aires, Argentina. It’s a beautiful and elegant pair of leather shoes, my preferred material when it comes to tango. Featuring an open toe box and a closed heel cage, this choice will probably offer you just the right amount of freedom you need, while remaining secured to your feet.
The closure system is a subtle leather strap. As the sole type, Comme il Faut chose the leather sole which I personally would have opted out for too since it slides better and it is sturdier than a suede sole. Their website talks about the secret of their hand-crafted shoes which lies in the stunning design, in the quality of their materials and in their dedication to the art of craftsmanship.
They are available in sizes 34 to 41 (European), 2 to 7,5 (British). If you’re ever in doubt about shoes sizes, here’s a very useful tool I use whenever I buy shoes from other countries. The heel height is medium (7,5 cm or 3 inch), which should work just fine for both beginners and professionals.
The nude colour I chose fits well any outfit; however, there are more options available, just as elegant as this one. They are very simple shoes, without any extra-accessories, which is an important feature to look for in tango shoes. Even if they may look nice, any extra pompon, flower, bow, etc., get in the way of dancing, as they can get stuck in your dress, or your partner may get his clothes destroyed by them.
#2: Tangolera A8B Nappa Nero Lucido
Here’s another pair of medium heel shoes, this time from Tangolera. They are designed by shoemakers working for a family business located in Rimini, Italy, so you’ll get high end Italian shoes made by people who love and respect the craft of dance. Yes, the owner of the company is himself a tango dancer.
The upper is entirely made from Nappa leather which also covers the heels and the double heel strap. Nappa leather is a type of soft, full-grain leather, an exceptional durable material that is easy to clean. The insole features the anti-inflammatory plantar Bandolera NO MORE PAIN© system. The outsole comes is made from Buffalo leather. Upon request, you can also have these shoes made from Vero Cuoio.
They are available in sizes ranging from 34 to 41 (European). The heel is medium (7 cm), but they also have the same model available with a slightly higher heel (9 cm), so the choice is up to you and your level of performance. The sole width is normal. They come in an elegant black colour with no added accessories.
#3: Alessandria - Mirror 80 by Tangolera
Shiny shoes for a shining star on the dance floor! These Italian dancing shoes are made from Vero Cuoio which means “Real/Genuine Leather”, offering a high quality experience to the dancers who choose to wear them. If you worry about sweaty feet, this material has you covered as it will let your skin breathe and prevent your feet from sliding inside the shoe due to humidity.
Vero Cuoio will also mean that your shoes will be your best friends for a while, as they are design to last. As they are part of the Tangolera brand, they also benefit from 4 mm of extra foot bed padding especially designed using the NO MORE PAIN © memory foam system. The upper, the heel and the double ankle straps are covered in little shiny “mirror” jewellery pieces that will make your feet stand out in the spotlight.
They are available in sizes ranging from 34 to 41 ( European), the standard heel height is 80 mm, but you can have them custom made with a 60, 70 or 90 mm heel. The width is medium, but again you can choose to have them crafted with a narrow or wide design.
This beautiful pair of tango shoes comes from Italy too. The Tamara model from La Rosa del Tango, features a nude and black leather upper with a secure ankle strap. The design elegantly combines leather with very subtle glitter material created for emphasising your feet on the dance floor and in the stage lights. You can choose to have their sole done in Vero Cuoio or Buffalo suede.
They also let you choose the amount of padding you want, 3 mm or 6 mm, you heel height from 60 mm to 90 mm and your heel shape, flared or stiletto. I personally recommend a 6mm padding, with a medium 70 mm flared heel for maximum stability.
#5: biella rose copper glitter 90 by tangolera
And here I go again recommending a pair of shoes from Tangloera. What can I say? They really know their craft and the shoes they make are made for tango! Another luxurious, yet fairly affordable creation is the Biella Rose Copper Glitter model.
Their upper is made from soft Italian microglitter leather that will take the shape of your foot once you start wearing them and their insole comes in suede leather with leather lining, of course benefitting from the innovative NO MORE PAIN © cushioning system.
The outsole is also made from natural leather covered with a removable protective film. As a little gift, this pair comes in an Axis Tango Italian satin shoe bag you can use to carry your shoes to and from rehearsals and shoes without damaging them.
They feature a 90 mm steel rod heel that may seem a little high, but it is extremely stable. However, they are also available in 70, 60 and 80 mm heel design. They come in sizes ranging from 34 to 41 (European). The width is medium, but upon request you can have them made in narrow or wide design.
Whether you choose high end luxury shoes that will stick with you for a lifetime, or you choose more affordable models, which will still serve your needs perfectly, you will have to adapt them to your own routines and level of performance. Be the Cinderella of your own story and choose only what best fits your requirements as a dancer. We’re picky people and we should not make compromises when it comes to the quality of our dance act, nor to the health of our most beloved possessions, our feet.
As a pro tip, whenever you get the chance to test your shoes before buying them, test them by walking backwards. In the end that’s how you’ll be using them most of the time, right?
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