Best Salsa Shoes Reviewed & Rated
Any athlete in their field knows that they must have the right shoes to make their performance perfect. High-quality sneakers and athletic shoes can make or break a runner’s record, can make the difference between gold medals and three weeks of blisters. Athletes aren’t only relegated to sneakers, however, and anyone who’s just finished a salsa routine will tell you ballroom can be as high intensity as any other competitive sport.
So when choosing a salsa shoe you have to be as discerning as any sports coach or competitor. Whether you’re looking for a suede-soled competition grade shoe, a comfortable pair of dance sneakers your instructor will allow on a sprung floor, or a simple pair of practice heels you can wear to any respectable competition without breaking the bank, you have to make sure to buy high quality shoes that will treat you right.
- Ellie Lucille
- 2” flared block heel
- Leather and Satin
- Naturalizer Danya
- Criss cross design
- hook-and-loop backstrap
- Delicacy Angel-62
- Smooth Sole
Choosing specific shoes for Salsa involves a lot of inspection as to what you need out of your own salsa work. There are some central rules for choosing a salsa shoe, however, that are constant no matter the type of shoe you’re getting. One of the main reasons you can’t dance salsa in your regular heeled sandals is the soles. When buying for salsa’s footwork and spins, you must be careful to buy shoes with smooth soles. These soles give the right balance of slip versus grip and limit strain on knees and hips.
On the foundation of the smooth soles, you should look for something lightweight, foot fitting, and with a heel height between 1 and 3 inches for women, and 1 and 2 inches for men, based on your comfort level and experience. A good salsa shoe will also have heavily cushioned insoles, to allow for the bouncing and footwork demands – not to mention tiring competitions where dancers may complete multiple routines in a night.
10 Best Salsa Shoes
1. Ellie Lucille
With a slightly padded leather insole, and a short 2” flared block heel, the Lucille pump boasts a very high comfort level, even for those reporting dancing repeatedly through an evening. The satin t-strap holding the shoe in place just tops off an already comfortable and secure shoe.
The Lucille Dress pump, with its high comfort levels, has been said to have excellent for use on the competitive scene and for home use, at weddings and other social events. Opting for the synthetic sole instead of a suede or leather version greatly increases the versatility of the shoe.
Cost and Value
These Ellie shoes pumps are highest rated for comfort and one of the cheapest on our list. The low cost puts it below some of the formal dance shoes compared here, so the value is weighed against the subdued style and the lack of proper suede soles.
True to size
Leather and satin
Stabilized block heel
Casual wear possible
Comfortable quality materials
Non dance-grade sole
2. Naturalizer Danya
Naturalizer specialise in good looking, flashy shoes that will definitely draw an appreciative eye on the dance floor. The style is backed up with a comfortable leather insole and a slight platform to make the heel more manageable, so the flashiness doesn’t outweigh the function of the shoe.
Designed for all-night comfort in this heeled sandal, the cushioned insole will also provide the support and bounce needed for you in a busy salsa routine. It also allows for breaking in, moulding the shoe around your foot and dance needs the more you practice in them.
Cost and Value
Naturalizer brand name comes with a slightly higher price than the other heeled sandals featured here, but that name brings a comfort promise and a large customer base to lay your trust on.
Laser cut straps
Strong, tight stability
Adjustable back strap
Comfortable cushioned insole
Not for salsa
Weight is heavy
3. Delicacy Angel-62
Leather and suede are the two best materials for salsa shoe soles, and leather will give you a slightly stronger support and more versatility. Although the cheaper price on these shoes mean it’s synthetic leather, customers promise a strong amount of slip that will take the pressure off knees and hips as dancers engage in high-intensity salsa routines.
Short Salsa Heel
2” is the preferred height for salsa shoes, especially for beginners or people who wouldn’t wear a lot of heeled sandals elsewhere. Although some will go an inch higher, the 2” kitten on the Angel-62 is really perfect for the majority of dancers.
Cost and Value
This shoe is cited as ‘best value’ for a reason, the second cheapest item on this guide and certainly the cheapest of the top half. Paired with the highly salsa-suited aspects of the shoe, it is certainly the best value for money on the list, though the cheaper materials may make for quicker wear and tear than the non synthetic shoes on the list.
Soles are smooth
Appropriate 2” heel
Glamorous black or silver
Dance-suitable and versatile
Short usage life
Heels are unstable
4. Sansha Salsette
There’s no replacing a high-quality suede sole for latin dancing, if you’re willing to shell out for a formal dance shoe. Even though this sneaker will be relegated to the training floor, the suede shoe will completely free the dancer from knee and hip strain after hours in the studio.
The strong support and form-fitting style of these shoes will completely spoil you for the transfer into the more glamorous competition shoes on dance nights. With a short heel, the arch support will create an incredibly comfortable shoe that facilitates jumps and footwork across the dance floor.
Cost and Value
These shoes ring in as a little more expensive than some of the cheaper shoes on our list, in return for being specially designed for ballroom dance and the kind of movement that salsa will demand from you. High quality material and design both come together to raise the price point, though of the dance sneakers on our list, these are by far the cheapest, and best value for money.
Men and women
Dance floor heel
Long hours comfort
Great affordable price
Suede soles and body
Closed mesh construction
Sizing runs small
5. Honeystore Mary Jane
Not only are the heels the right height for salsa, the subtle flare and relatively blocky bottom will provide greater stability without sacrificing the style.
Excellent Dancing Soles
The first heeled sandals here with the suitable slippy sole that will provide the amount of slip versus grip a competition salsa dancer will need.
Cost and Value
The balance between style and function in these shoes raise the price point a little, among the top three most expensive shoes in the list, especially once you only consider the shoes you could wear in competition. These shoes have also been reported to degrade quickly, so you may not get as many uses out of them as a more robust pair not designed specifically for dancing.
Color, style variety
Perfect heel height
Supportive block heel
Closed toe and T-strap
High stabilizing control
Non-traditional Latin shoe
6. Capezio Rockit
Extra ankle support, a high achilles notch, a padded toe box, strong arch support. All coming together to create a secure shoe fitted snugly to your foot and keeping you protected through hours of dance training. The heavy support won’t hinder movement, however, as it will be balanced out by the flexibility of the split sole and mesh build.
Ventilated and breathable
The mesh and suede body and the large perforated arch will create a light, breathable product will keep your feet feeling fresh and comfortable even if you’re put through a high intensity training session.
Cost and Value
Capezio is a known brand for dancewear, and can be trusted to deliver a high quality and high value product - but it also puts these shoes as one of the highest in the list, price-wise. The value is also raised by the fact that these shoes could suit practice for ballet, hip hop, and many other dancing practice. If you’re someone likely to use these shoes in multiple mediums, they become very high value for money, but if you’re exclusively looking for salsa shoes, these fall lower on the list, especially with their non-slip soles.
Foot, ankle support
Helps back support
Versatile training styles
Breathable lightweight mesh
Not for salsa
7. Capezio Jazz
Someone looking to avoid the discomfort of high strappy heels during a salsa routine will find great comfort here. Despite looking like simple leather slip ons, these jazz shoes have a stable heel cup and a good amount of arch support so you can still pull off the footwork demands of your routine.
It can’t be said enough that the ability to slip on your shoes is important to salsa dance. Although this shoe throws off the trappings of a lot of other demanding or potentially uncomfortable ballroom shoe styles, it keeps the most important requirement; the slippy sole.
Cost and Value
Although this shoe varies it’s price so much by size it’s hard to compare it to other shoes on this list, it seems to lie as pretty average in comparison. This makes sense when considering it’s value - the lack of accessories or exciting additions means you’re paying well for a few very high quality aspects; good quality leather, dance-centered design, and strong foot support where you need it.
Men and women
Simplified shoe style
Supple and long-lasting
Sizing runs small
8. Touch Ups Jane
Traditional strappy shoes will always look in-place on a salsa dance floor, and these shoes show a suitable amount of foot without sacrificing support, a buckled ankle strap and x-straps from the arch securing the shoe comfortably.
These are shoes designed to support not just dancers, but people wearing these shoes for hours on end without pause. The insoles are clearly well made and the cushioned style will give a dancer the support they need for a full night of competition dances.
Cost and Value
These shoes aren’t charging for dance-oriented design, putting them as among the cheaper members of the list. This is good on many fronts - the strap and heel style, and the heel height, are still well suited to latin despite not being designed for it. However, the shoe does have a synthetic non-slip sole that is going to be less comfortable for someone looking for serious salsa spin routines.
First time dancers
Stabilized low heel
Long wear comfort
Multiple secured straps
Great affordable pricing
Limits salsa dancing
Average quality construction
9. J. Adams Mary Jane Oxford
Although the Mary Janes won’t have the same level of high-slip as dedicated dance shoes, the vegan leather soles will give you better chance to pull off salsa spins than leather-soled shoes designed to grip the floor.
Snug fit with secure ankle strap
Even if straps are more traditionally, the partially closed shoe and buckle ankle strap here will create a very secure dance shoe that sits snugly on your foot while you dance. Not only that, but the heel is relatively wide despite being a kitten heel, increasing that stability.
Cost and Value
These Oxfords are another versatile shoe where you’ll be paying for more than just a once-weekly wear. On the scale of this list, these are relatively middling, not charging for dance-centric design but still higher enough in price that you’re getting high quality material and modern style.
Safe 3” heel
Versatile and modern
Casual wear possible
Synthetic leather soles
Salsa style limitations
Heel height limitations
10. Naturalizer Taimi
The 2.5 heel height is much better suited to the recommended salsa shoe style than many heeled sandals you will be able to find, without losing any visual excitement. The heel is also helped by padding along the length of the foot, which increases comfort even further.
Exciting and Stylish
Stepping into day-to-day heeled sandals open the doors to more exciting looking, modern and stylish sandals. These are no exception, especially the gold and silver styles, which are sure to draw the eye on the dance floor.
Cost and Value
These are some of the most expensive shoes on the list, which is one of the reasons the rank so low, especially paired with the lack of slippy sole which limits this shoes use on the dance floor. Nevertheless, what you are paying for with the higher price is a stunning shoe that is very versatile and attractive.
Long usage life
Suitable salsa style
Extra comfort padding
Exciting asymmetric design
Salsa style limitations
Heel stabilization limitations
Dance shoes can be incredibly finicky items to buy, the movement of each different dance style being as varied and specific as it is. Salsa demands shoes that you can spin in, with smooth soles and comfortable, snug fits, and it demands shoes that will allow for extended step work, with good support and lots of insole padding. No matter what you do, remember that dance wear needs to be as strongly considered as athletic shoes, and treated with the same consternation when you decide to buy.
Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Salsa Shoes
One of the most important aspects of your Salsa shoes are the soles. Sliding, gliding, and stopping are different on a dance floor and your shoes need to support that. Salsa dancing also involves stomping and kicking. If your shoes have the wrong outsole you will find your dance will greatly suffer.
Don’t misunderstand us here, you can wear any type of shoe to dance in. However, if you want to look like the pros and dancing is not just something you do for fun but something you work hard to improve at, the right shoes will make a huge impact. Sneakers, dress shoes, loafers, and gym shoes tend to have a rubber or polyurethane outsoles. These are great for traction, grip, and durability but on a dance floor sticking feet can lead to injury when the rest of your body is moving. These are features that you aren’t going to find in quality Salsa or Latin dance shoes.
The most common materials used for salsa shoes are leather and suede leather. There is also a variety of other soft materials like lambskin and felt, that you may find in your search for superior salsa shoes. The problem with a soft sole is the fact that they are not made to be worn outside, requiring a change of shoes when you get to your dance studio or performance venue. Most people don’t mind changing their shoes, but if this is a problem for you, you may want to opt for a thicker leather sole. Let’s take a minute and look at the pros and cons of the most common sole materials.
Overall, either Leather or Nubuck Suede Leather will help make your performance flawless. It is important to note, any shoe can be turned into a dance shoe. There are many good articles out there to describe how to switch the soles of your shoes. Making your favorite sneaker into a dance shoe is not common but it is possible. Not completely sold that dancing will be your new it thing? That’s OK too, you can also buy stick on soft material outsoles for the shoes you already own. This may save you money and give you a bit more time to decide if an investment in dance shoes is a good choice.
Dance enthusiasts everywhere will tell you that the flexibility of your dance shoe will make or break your dance. One of the most common critiques about dancers is about their feet. Toes that aren’t pointed or a kick that ends with a clubfoot is sure to lose points with the judges. Stiff shoes don’t move with your feet and can inhibit your ability to point your toes and fully flex your ankle.
The difficulty in finding the perfect flexibility is the fact that you can’t sacrifice all of the support of your shoe or you are certain to have pain in your joints and muscles and you could even injure yourself. Salsa shoes are structured to offer top levels of flexibility and provide enough support to keep you moving and feeling great.
Women’s dance shoes that have a heel have a shank that runs from the heel through the arch of the shoe. This stability and support are crucial. There are different materials used such as metal, vinyl, polyurethane, and plastic. Supporting your arch is needed to keep your feet feeling good and maintaining joint health. All women’s salsa shoes with a heel will have some sort of shank in them. How stiff you buy your shoes is up to you, keep in mind that flexibility leads to excellent kicks and flicks and less time hearing about your toes not being pointed enough.
Men’s dance shoes can be found with or without a shank. No shank means you will be able to point your toes easier and better than before but your shoe will not hold its shape nearly as well or as long. The lack of shank in men’s salsa shoes also leads to cracking leather. Typically seen in the toe and heel, a loss of structure weakens the shoe overall. When you are beginning this is a decision best left for later. More experienced dancers or people with foot problems will want to think about it sooner and discuss it with your instructor.
The other pieces of your salsa shoes play their part in overall flexibility as well. Taking the time to look at the upper material and knowing that soft bends much easier than stiff, will help keep your shoes moving with you. It is also essential to note, if you have problems with your feet, talk about it with your instructor or doctor before spending a lot of money on salsa shoes. You want to make sure to get the support and structure you need to avoid injury.
Q: What should the heel height of my salsa shoes be?
A: There really isn’t a set height for your salsa shoes. You should go with what you are most comfortable in. There are advantages and disadvantages to wearing either low or high heeled dance shoes. Commonly for Salsa and other Latin dance shoes have a one to three-inch heel.
When you look at the shoes you wear frequently, do they have a heel? Finding a no to be your answer may lead you in the direction of a smaller heel when starting dance and this would be a smart decision. Wearing a heel that is too high for your comfort level can lead to twisted ankles, sore arches, and general pain in your feet, ankles, and calves. Starting low is fine and you can work up to higher heels as your skill level progresses. Taller heels make your legs look great and help draw attention to pointed toes, kicks, and flicks, just be careful because unsteadiness in your heels can have you sitting out for quite some time.
On the other hand, if heels are part of your everyday footwear, you may be fine to start dancing in three-inch heels. Wearing high heels is not only a matter of balance but also being used to how your body moves in your shoes. Adjusting can take time if you’re an expert wear whatever heel looks best with your outfit but also keeps you comfortable and supported.
Q: What is the difference between Ballroom and Latin dance shoes?
A: For women, a Latin dance shoe will typically have an open toe and they are strappy. The heel height is usually between one and three inches, with two and a half inches being the standard for Latin shoes. The heel of a Latin dance shoe is not as sturdy as a ballroom shoe’s heel because most of the steps are performed on the ball of the foot. Latin shoes can be worn for ballroom but not the other way around. Ballroom shoes are typically closed toed and offer a sturdy heel. Often, they do not have straps. Due to the increased stability, Ballroom shoes are not nearly as flexible and do not transition well into Latin dances.
For men, a Latin shoe usually has a one and a half inch to two-inch heel. They are made for walking forward on the ball of the foot rather than the heel. They also offer a very flexible sole, making it easy to flex and bend the foot. The lack of shank allows you to point your toes with ease. For the ballroom, the heel height is typically one inch. They are also usually black with a matte finish. They are not as easy to point as a Latin shoe. These shoes are built for walking in a heel to toe motion. Beginners can wear standard ballroom shoes for most types of dance, however, as you move up in ability you will want standard and Latin shoes for competitions.
Q: How do I clean the suede sole of my salsa shoes?
A: This is a great question. Over time, as you wear your suede-soled dance shoes, the Knapp will flatten and matt together. This decreases grip and can cause accidents or falls because of the slickness of the bottom of the shoe. There are a couple of ways to clean the bottom of your salsa shoes to ensure you stay on your feet and you are able to continue wearing your favorite dance shoes.
You can clean the soles of your suede salsa shoes with a brush and vitamin E oil. Lightly brush the soles of your shoes, this will help remove wax and debris from the dance floor. Next, you will want to rub one to two drops of vitamin E oil into the bottom of one shoe by rubbing the bottom of the other against it. Do this until the oil is distributed across the entire bottom of your shoe.
Another way to clean your suede soles, if you find yourself on the dance floor with little or no traction, is to lay a damp paper towel off to the side of the dance floor. The moisture when you touch your soles to it will help you stick to the floor better, for a short period of time. This will get you through an evening but you will want to brush and oil your soles when you get done for the evening.
Finding you don’t have time to keep your shoes clean or you simply don’t want to, we have a solution for you, too. You can take your favorite salsa shoes, drop them off at a professional cleaner, and pick them up on your way to practice. This can save a lot of time and effort for those who find they are always on the go. It will cost more than cleaning them yourself but you are sure to have well cleaned ready for dancing salsa shoes.
Q: So many strapping options, which is best?
A: This is a very individualized answer based on your particular feet. Rather than try to answer which is the best, let’s look at the strapping styles and the benefits of each. You can then take a few minutes and think about your feet and past problems you may have encountered to decide which style will be the best.
- Fixed Loop – A single circle around the ankle this is a common look in women’s dress shoes. It helps to keep the shoe from flying off your foot during kicks or flips but does not provide much support. It also does not do as well as others at locking the heel into place.
- X Ankle Strap – This strap wraps around the ankle and forms an X across the front. It provides a more locked in feel while keeping your shoe firmly on your foot. These may be seen with or without a loop.
- X Arch Strap – Wrapping around the ankle and crossing and then around the arch and crossing, the X Arch Strap is great for beginning dancers. The extra support to the arch of your foot helps to keep your feet feeling great when you aren’t used to such a flexible, unstructured shoe. Important to note, this type of strapping gives you the ultimate security, keeping your shoe firmly attached to your foot.
- T Strap – Less stress and pressure on the ankle is part of why people love to wear a T Strap dance shoe. The connection is at the base of the shoe which helps to distribute pressure evenly. Many find this the most comfortable closure.
There are many other varieties in straps, we have found these to be the most common and comfortable. Try different options to find what feels best and can keep you dancing for days to come.