Is there a difference between Ballroom and Latin shoes?
I often get asked by beginners if there is a difference between Latin and ballroom shoes. In fact, I remember asking this very question myself when I first started ballroom dancing! The one thing all ballroom and latin shoes have in common is that they have a suede sole. The main differences are as follows:
Lady’s ballroom shoes are often referred to as a court shoe. They are fully enclosed, usually have a stiletto-style heel commonly ranging from 2-2.5”, and may or may not have a strap or buckle. They generally do not have a lot of flexibility through the sole.
Ladies latin shoes can best be described as a sandal. They usually have an open toe, straps and buckles, and the heels are generally worn a little higher than ballroom shoes to keep the weight towards the ball of the foot (commonly 2.5-3” heels). They also tend to have more flex in the sole than ballroom shoes.
Men’s ballroom shoes are like a man’s dress shoe: Closed shoe, low heel, and laces.
Men’s Latin shoes are similar to a ballroom shoe but they have a higher heel; a block or “Cuban” style heel to be exact. They are designed to keep the weight towards the balls of the feet for easier weight changes. There is also the option of split-sole shoes, where the ball and heel sections of the sole are separated, allowing greater flexibility through the foot.
For social dancing and practice, there are many, many variations of shoes that can be worn in different styles and heights (including boots and runners!). Ladies often start with a lower heel and make their way up to a higher heel as they become more confident. Men's ballroom shoes feel just like a normal dress shoe and require almost no getting used to. They are a good starting point before moving up to the unusual sensation of wearing latin heels.