Tango Shoes & Salsa Shoes

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Salsera-danij, Nov 4, 2007.

  1. Salsera-danij

    Salsera-danij New Member

    Is there really a difference between the two??

    Im new to Tango so I have no idea!

    I know the heels are different but is it just style or do Tango shoes provide some type of different stability than Tango shoes?

    Thanks,
    Danielle
  2. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member


    Think of it this way-- buying shoes at this point in time would be like buying a competition dress, when you dont know how to dance .

    I know -- ladies LUV buying shoes . But-- see if your desire to continue, is as strong, in a couple or so months .
  3. Salsera-danij

    Salsera-danij New Member

    Well...it has been a couple of months since I started learning and I am still sticking with Tango.

    I have already racked up a collection of Salsa shoes in the last 4 years and I just want to know if there is a difference between the two shoes.l
  4. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    If I understand the construction of latin shoes correctly- then a latin shoe will pitch your weight forward a little, like a tango shoe will. In that respect, they wold have a similarity. Style-wise they are very different. Salsa shoes tend to have chunkier thick Louis heels. The more popular tango shoes right now have very skinny stiletto heels (and unfortunately, most have very little padding).

    Its been my experience that I can keep a forward but upright axis easier in shoes with 3 inch heel or lower. After that, I'm further forward than I like to be for the more athletic dancing I prefer though there are certainly plenty of ladies who wear them high and dance athletically, just see youtube.

    Also- tango shoes come in the suede or half suede bottom variety and a full leather sole that can be worn on the street. I think most salsa shoes are suede bottoms- so you can't wear them on the street.

    I think for the first couple of months, your fine in salsa/ballroom latin shoes, till you see what you like or don't like. And if you have the option, take the time to try on some different Tango heels to see what you like before buying. Better to think it through than blow $180 on a pair of COmme Il Faut you don't end up liking in the end.

    Here's a tango shoe blog (yes- indeed) - and you can start doing research for a while to get an idea what type of shoe might suit you in the long run. Believe me, I spent way too much money before I figured out what shoes worked best for me. Some shoes are built better than others and balance (of the shoe) is very important. If you are running around in 3" heels, you definitely don't want unbalanced shoes to add to your difficulties.

    http://www.tangoshoedivas.com/shoedivas/
  5. Salsera-danij

    Salsera-danij New Member

    Thanks for the reply, its is very helpful. The thing is, all of my salsa shoes are 2.5 inches. I keep them that short because im either the same height or taller than a majority of the guys I dance with. I have not seen a tango shoe that did not have a very high heel....what to do!?!?
  6. Twirly

    Twirly New Member

    I'd say you should consider going up to 3". Then you can get really nice shoes from Comme Il Faut and Neotango, for example. It's not that much higher and it makes a huge difference in what you can get. Of course, 3.5 would be even better - many models, usually the nicest, come only in 3.5 or higher - but I can see that's pushing it!
  7. Me

    Me New Member

    Welcome to the DF! :D

    Comme il Faut (and other shoe companies who copy the style) have stiletto heels as high as 4 inches. I do not know how accomplished your tango is, but if you do not dance tango regularly and practice daily, I would recommend that you not wear these shoes. You need to develop serious strength in the feet, ankles, and calves or you will hurt other people.

    I don't think I started the Comme il Faut fad in this area, but I did notice after wearing them consistently some of the other dancers began wearing stiletto tango shoes. Many of the men have been complaining about it, and the phrase "I got spiked" is becoming more common. In short, not all of the women who bought the pretty shoes have enough control over their bodies to dance safely.

    I was at a very crowded milonga not too long ago where not all of the couples are taught to mind line of dance. Many times that evening I would step back, and either feel a foot already there, or feel a foot pass underneath my heel. I had enough control over my tango to not press my heel into the floor, and this keep me from injuring whoever was behind me. (This is in contrast to some of the other dancers who either fall back onto their back steps or step with the entire foot.) I also was able to, even if big adorno were lead, keep it tight, which kept me from clipping other dancers with a flying stiletto. I hope this doesn't sound like bragging, but I was not responsible for any of the tango injuries that evening... and actually, there were several. Almost all of the injuries were caused by ladies' spike heels. I suspect almost everybody was stepped on at some point, but the "reported injuries" were the ones caused by the stilettos because they hurt more!

    You have to be so careful when dancing in those things. When I was first learning tango I was wearing ballroom Latin shoes, and missed a gauncho big time. Drove the heel straight into my instructor's shin. He had an enormous hard welt (with a cut on top of it) for at least a week. If I had been wearing stilettos it would have been even worse!
  8. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    A myth perpetuated for many yrs-- suede is leather -- the only harm over a long period of walking, street side-- dirt--. People then raise the Q-- but what about water/rain ?-- answer-- havent seen any shrinking cows of late .

    The " nap " on the shoe, can be brought up, with a good stiff brush.

    So-- walking to your car, from the studio, is not going to do any permanent damage .

    way to clean bottoms -- damp brush with a tad of soap, rinse with very damp cloth, leave over nite to dry .( have done it for yrs )
  9. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    Shoe height is IMO, not so much a big deal. There are plenty of tango shoes out there that have lower than 3" heels- it is NOT a requirement of the dance to have 3"+ heels regardless of how pretty they may be! Part of the thing the higher heels (over 3") do becasue of the way the heels are placed (further back) towards the backside of the shoe rather than under your heel, is make you more forward weighted. If you wear a lower heel, then you may have to work a little harder if you want to do apilado style (heavy forward lean in close embrace) than you might if the heel is already placed to make you very forward. My understanding of latin shoes (with the flared heels) is they are placed to make you a little forward weighted, though probably not as much as a very high heel tango shoe will.

    If you have balance issues, a spike stiletto may not be right for you just yet but whenever you try on shoes you really don't want to wear ANYTHING that will INCREASE any wobble you might be dealing with in your own balance. If you try something on that makes you wobble or increases any problems you have, don't even bother with it. You won't "get used to it"- you'll only regret it.

    My suggestion is to buy a pair of shoes that you 1)like 2)that is comfortable and that 3)feels stable when you are on one leg (ie- you may wobble a little, but the shoe doesn't add to it) and just be aware that you may have to work a little harder to keep your weight forward in the lower heels and keep from rocking back on your heels while walking backwards.

    The lady at Diva-Boutique has some pretty lower heel shoes at fairly reasonable prices. Her 2" designs are about 2.25" or 2.5" measured up the back and they are well made though she can run a little on the slow side with shipping.

    Also- Tara Tango also has some lower heels. She measures up the back as well so if you are looking at shoes on her site and it says 3" heel, that means measured up the back. They are about 2.5" or 2.75" up the center of the heel.
  10. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    To each his own.

    yes- suede is leather- of a particular sort. Water on the bottoms makes permanent marks and in my past experience, packed down shiny spots that are near impossible to bring back up, not to mention that trying to dance in suede that is wet is like trying to dance with sticky tape on your shoe bottoms and they stay that way for HOURS. I don't personally recommend walking around on the street in suede bottoms shoes, but certainly a short walk from studio to car won't need more than a quick brush up to clean them. Part of the taboo, I think, is that with ballroom, you don't want to bring any dirt and mess from the streets in to the nice ballroom floors and the suede works better for ballroom dancing. I like leather better for all the pivoting and so forth in tango.

    Wearing packed down suede isn't such an issue for tango (but then why not just get a leather bottom). I keep both kinds on hand to accomodate the floor I'm on and so prefer to keep them in the condition I need them for the use I want them for. I want suede bottoms for a particular purpose (slick floors) so I don't like them to get packed and slick. I'll switch to leather bottoms when I want slick shoe bottoms.
  11. Ampster

    Ampster Active Member


    What I've observed:

    Heel Construction:

    Salsa: Lower, Chunkier styles used, e.g. Roma, Coppa heels.

    The salsa style movements (even if weight forward) require that the weight be supported equally, thus going into the heel, necessitatins a lower, wider heel. Facilitates the Cuban motion (Hips). If the heels are too high, this would be hard to do.

    Tango: Higher, Stiletto style heels.

    Tango movements have the women on the balls of their heels a lot. On occassion, they land the heel, but do not do heavy weight stomping/stop-gom movements [like in salsa], so the heels can be tall and thin.


    Sole:

    Salsa Construction: Softer, flexible

    Better for the floor, and more suited for for the Salsa Stop/Go, Cuban motion movements. Points very well.

    Tango Hard, stiff

    Designed to be worn outdoor and to be danced in. Formed Hard and stiff to help support the woman's weight as she is on the balls of her feet a lot, most especially when she dances in any of the close embrace styles.
  12. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member


    I was not advocating walking around for hrs in the rain-- or walk to the studio, in rain ( from or o/side ) --just trying to clear up the myth that water, of any quantity ( on sole ) will ruin shoes ( obviously, not ladies white satin etc., ) and more specifically, mens .

    I also did say-- leave for 24hrs to dry naturally.

    --- The point of " non skid ", is for control---.As you may, or may not know, there are numerous amounts of pivoting actions , as well as pivots, in the Pro. division of Standard and Smooth .----- but, choice is good .
  13. TaintedMantis

    TaintedMantis Member

    Oho boy...the spikes must have hurt.

    But tell me, as a ballroom dancer, I'd like to know what the difference is between the ballroom pump and a tango shoe. I swore to myself to wear my ballrooms instead of my latins because the last time I did Argentine Tango in my latins, I got stomped on by big clumpy shoes on both my big toes by the same guy in that one session - bruise in one nail of my right big toe and a broken nail on the other (it didn't hurt as the nail was a little on the longer side, but still, it was a shock!)
  14. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    I will be glad to give you my impressions. I danced ballroom for 10 years before I took up Tango.

    The main difference I found is that the weight placement in the very high heels is different. Most of the heels that are over 3" high tend to be placed further back and so pitch you forward a lot, which is helpful in close embrace styles. And though tango shoes also come in a variety of bottoms (suede, half suede and hard leather to suit your preference), they tend ot be a little stiffer. (However, some newer brands have some VERY flexible soles you can bend in half so even that may not always apply anymore. You can see examples on sites like thetangoshop.com) The hard leather ones are generally quite a bit stiffer which I am not fond of becasue of m*etatarsal problems in my feet. I like some flexibility so I have to try things on first before I buy.

    The skinny spikes are a fairly new thing, brought about mainly by Comme Il Faut, which lauched a few years ago (less than 10, I think) and which has revolutionized tango shoe styles. There are plenty of copycats now.

    I can certainly understand wanting toe cover. The spiky heels can come in open toe sandals or peep toe varieties for those who want coverage. :) I don't think Comme Il Faut does any close toe shoe but perhaps NeoTango does and I know Darcos does.

    If you want to see more traditional looking tango shoes have a look at Tara tango shoes at 22tangoshoes.com. For more modern styles, Darcos has plenty on ebaybee and you can look up NeoTango as well. You won't be able to see full pictures of Comme Il Faut online. The CiF ladies don't allow photos and you have to write the distributors for pics.

    If you want followers opinions on their experiences with tango shoe brands try www.tangoshoedivas.com/shoedivas/. There is a list on the bottom right hand side by brand and when people add their reviews and stories, they get linked to the different categories.
  15. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    You forgot to mention that Latin sandals are usually worn such that the toes are extremely exposed--in fact often the toes extend forward of the sole. Tango shoes that expose this much in the way of toes are extremely rare, if they even exist. Even peep-toes don't expose all that much toe.
  16. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Good point. All my AT shoes (all CiF's) are open toe to some degree. Even with the most open style (single band across toes/ball of foot) my toes are well back from the edge of the shoe. Often, though, the open toe/protection thing isn't so much of a critical issue once you learn to keep your feet in the right place. Unless, of course, you get a guy who isn't aware of his own feet.

    Regarding leather soles and flexibility... They'll probably always be stiffer than a latin sandal (don't know, never worn a latin sandal), but leather soles will get more flexible as you wear them more often. Getting them soaked a few times helps in this regard, as well.

    I'm not convinced that I agree with others here about heel placement being further back on AT shoes. Granted, my experience is only with CiF's. They feel a bit forward compared to my court shoes (IIRC), and the comment I've gotten from anyone who has tried mine on is how far forward the heel is. The "pitched forward" thing comes, I think, mainly from the height.
  17. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    Your foot is only so long. You can't move the heel upward without also moving it forward. Unless you're talking platforms, in which case you're also moving the toe up.
  18. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    very true- even in my open toe shoes, my toes stay just behind the line and it is true in latin shoes that the toes can go over the front...
  19. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    Not sure I can completely agree- don't know what brand or heel type your court shoes are. I have heard that the flare type heels place you forward and so some ladies don't like that for smooth, because they are looking for a slightly different weight placement (more balanced, I think) so I am no expert, just repeating opinions I have heard and my old court shoes had a curvy slim heel that went under the heel, rather than back of it and that was over 10 years ago and styles change.

    But if you will look at the difference in heel placement between a pair of 3" CiF and 3.5 or 4" CiF - the heel is a bit farther back and anytime I have ever tried on a pair higher then 3", I feel pitched too far forward for my liking.

    Can't speak for other brands on this matter, really, except Tara's, but her heels aren't stilettos. I find Tara's heel placements a little "back" as well, but I have 2 pairs of platforms from her. The Neotango's I have seems to depend on the shoe. I have one pair of 3.5" heels where the heel is pretty far back (see photo), but the 4" pair I had last year had the heel nicely up under my foot. Too bad I couldn't wear them for being too high.

    I'll try to attach a couple of pics to look at.

    If you look at the photo's, taller CiF have a different heel shape. They didn't just whack off the length of a longer heel and put it on the 3" shoe. It's actually slightly curvier and just a little more under the heel. The higher ones have less curve at the back and feel a little further back to me- could just be a height illusion...who knows. But there is usually only .25" difference in height from the 3" ones and the 3.5" ones and I don't think you can discount the effect the different shape has for such a small differece in height becasue no matter what anyone says, those 3" heels aren't ever really QUITE 3" up the back.

    Attached Files:

  20. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    *shrug* It's been a few weeks since I put on either my court shoes or my AT shoes. Could be I'm completely wrong...never really stopped to look closely at them. I know I'm always surprised by how really underneath of me the CiF shoes feel; it was one of the first things I noticed with the higher ones--I was convinced I'd never be able to wear them and walk/dance in them, until I tried it on and felt that heel right underneath me. They definitely feel more balanced (IMO) than my court shoes.

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