Women - For salsa I recommend women buy competitive international Latin shoes. The “salsa” shoes sold at general dance stores are often of a relatively poor quality. The shanks and straps often break and they don’t always have the flexibility needed to point your foot. Salsa dancers work their shoes hard and need sturdy and comfortable shoes. If you buy some "Very Fine" shoes for $70, keep in mind they won't get anywhere near the wear you will get with a $140- $160 pair of quality dance shoes. If you can't afford these shoes, look for leather soled, closed toe heels with an ankle strap. The heel should be no higher than 3". The ankle strap must keep the shoe attached to your foot as you spin. If you are looking for comfort and function, then check out my section on practice shoes.
Men - Men wear a wide variety of shoe styles for salsa dancing. When buying shoes keep in mind it needs to stay on your foot as you kick and spin, have a suede or leather sole, and enough flexibility to allow you to easily point your foot. Some dancers choose to wear a lightweight leather soled men's dress shoe which can be worn on the street so that they don't have to carry an additional pair of "dance shoes" with them to the club.
If you do decide to wear these street shoes
to dance salsa, make sure your shoes do not
The welt is a strip of leather or other material around a shoe. It is sewn to the outside of the bottom part of the uppers and then bent outward and sewn onto the top outside of the sole. If the shoe is sewn directly to the sole, the part of the sole that sticks out around the shoe can be referred to as, "the welt".
Most women dance salsa in open toed shoes. The welt can catch under her toe nail and painfully rip it off. This has happened to me (multiple times) and many of my female friends. The guy meanwhile has no idea that anything has happened. Many of the women hide what happened, because they don't want to make him feel bad for unintentionally hurting her. Then the clueless guy wears the shoes out again and hurts more women. Gentlemen, don't be that guy!
Dance shoes are not made with welts because welts interfere with dance technique. They make it difficult to feel the floor and limit your ability to lean from side to side. I have heard some male dancers describe it as "dancing on snow shoes".
I recommend you buy a shoe designed for or at
least modified for dancing. Ballroom or Latin Dance Shoes are great to wear out salsa
dancing. They look sharp and you will dance
better in them! Some men take a pair of casual
shoes (like sneakers) to cobblers and have
them adapted for dance. Ask the cobbler to
shave down the bottom enough to make the shoes
flexible and suede them for you.
Don't stop on this page. Make sure you have visited the Latin Dance Shoes pages for the rest of the info. and resources you should have for salsa shoes including where to get them, or go for shoe modifications or care!!!