Once you have your dance shoes, you might also want to invest in a few accessories to help carry and care for your new purchase. Below are some of the accessories you’ll find in most stores, and our recommendations.
First off, there are two accessories that I believe all dancers should have:
- Shoe bag. Ballo shoes and most ballroom shoes come with their own bags, and some brands include better quality bags than others. The bags we’d love to get with our shoes would be sturdy, dirt-resistant, and machine washable. They’d have individual shoe compartments and a separate pocket for a shoe brush, and would last for the life of the shoe. Unfortunately, most bags you get with shoes are simple thin cloth numbers with barely enough thread to hold them together, so you might want to get a better-quality shoe bag.
- Suede brush. This is a wire brush that you use on the sole of your suede-soled dance shoes. As you dance, dust and dirt gets stuck in the nap of the suede, and the pressure we put on the sole flattens the nap, making the soles very slippery. Brushing your soles removes dust and dirt from them, and fluffs up the nap to give the shoes a bit more traction.
Note: if your shoes do not have suede soles, don’t brush them. Just saying.
Other accessories are optional, and purely based on personal preference. Here are a few of the most common ones:
For the guys:
- Shoe trees. Some dancers swear by them – they help shoes keep their shape when they are stored. Others consider this more trouble than it’s worth. It comes down to personal preference – if you have an expensive pair of shoes that you want to protect, then trees might be a good idea. Otherwise, it’s probably not worth the effort of putting them in every time you take your shoes off.
- Shoe care kit. Whether you have leather ballroom shoes or athletic-looking Ballos, you need to keep them looking their best. This includes cleaning them (with soap and water, a specific cleaning solution, or a cloth and some hand cream, depending on what your shoes are made of), conditioning them and protecting them from the elements. Make sure you know what your shoes are made of, and build your own care kit accordingly.
For the ladies:
- Heel protectors. These are little plastic cups that fit over the tip of your shoe’s heel. They come in different sizes, for pointy heels and flared heels , and protect your heel tips from wear. I swear by them – my heel tips always wear unevenly and need replacing every few months. You can get a set of heel protectors for under $5, they will last you for years, and they save you spending 4 times as much having your shoes re-heeled. I would use these on all my regular shoes too, if I could.
- Shoe straps. If the shoe style you love isn’t as secure as you’d like, you can buy straps that either attach to the shoe, or just slip over the shoe and around the top of your foot. You can get clear straps, you can get them in the most popular dance shoe colours, and some come with rhinestones so you can use them to change up the look of your shoes. My personal opinion? If you need/want them to keep your shoes from flying across the room, by all means. Otherwise, I prefer my footwear to be as light as possible, so I’d skip them.
Shoe cushions, shoe embellishments, special cleaning products, anti-slip products etc. Dance shoe manufacturers are always coming out with new accessories to address specific problems or needs; you often see products such as cushions to relieve foot pain and tighten the heel cup for more stability, rhinestone-embellished clips and buckles to add more sparkle to shoes, and a variety of other products. None of these are must-haves, but knowing what’s available is useful, should you ever need these products, so have a browse!