General Dance Discussion > The Reason For Suede Soles

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by Rustguard, Dec 5, 2012.

  1. Rustguard

    Rustguard New Member

    Firstly hello/hola to all, This is my first post. I couldnt find a introduction thread anywhere.

    When I first started dancing, a mentor of already well over 20 years experience explained to me that the idea of suede soles was to pick up the wax off the floor; that way you had the same surface on your shoe as the floor so you could get a neutral slide. He said, "when you go to a different ballroom you then brush the old wax off your shoes, so it can pick up the new wax off the floor, and because you had the same texture on your shoe as the floor you could achieve the same neutral slide" He told me that "some floors are faster or slower than others; so this way a competing dance couple could achieve a more standard slide whether the floor was faster or slower."

    To me this made very practical sense, but in the fifteen years since I have started dancing (I no longer know this gentleman) I have never met someone who is aware of this.

    Because of this I only brush my shoes if I feel the slide is too slow or fast.

    My question is-

    Has anyone else been taught this? or heard this?

    I Have never heard any other reason to use suede and from an engineering point it seems to make sense
  2. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Hi Rustguard, I don´t know what you mean with suede soles in this respect. I thought that the chemical properties of the used tanning substances are responsible rather than the microscopic structure of the leather surface. I for one use chrome leather soles because they are compatible with a great range of lipophilic substances as for instance waxes.
  3. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    Waxed floors have become something of a rarety, haven't they? Most people expect that the rough surface of suede soles can be brushed to remove dust and dirt, and to retain the rough surface. On a typical smooth, clean, floor, the friction of the leather is the most sort-after property, and if the leather is allowed to compact and go smooth (or worse, shiny) then slips and falls become a real risk.

    Wax collects in the suede, though, and provides a nice, even feel (and no wear - it's just about impossible to wear the soles out, but the uppers will still fail, of course), although some wax finishes can leave a greasy layer on the floor (parafin wax does), that can make correct foot placement critically important. A badly placed heel lead on a waxed floor can easily leave you having involuntarily sat down.

    I regularly use a studio that applies far too much wax, and it actually builds up in great flakes on the soles of the shoes, completely clogging the suede. I have to remove it, after dancing, with an old blunt kitchen knife (used like a scraper), before brushing. Once shoes have accumulated wax for any period, you can't ever restore the original 'fluffy' surface of new suede, and the shoes are largely useless on any floor that hasn't been waxed.

    It's a shame that beeswax has become so expensive, because applied sparingly, and then well buffed, it hardens, but provides a wearing layer that has lovely feel, but which isn't picked up on shoes to any material extent.
  4. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    Suede allows them to slide without being TOO slick. Though I will always take a shoe that has more slip than stick. I already destroyed one knee from my foot sticking on a turn and it's not an experience I care to repeat. I've only been on one floor I know of done with a heavy coat of modern floor wax and it turned into a snow field because everyone was baby-powdering their shoes to make them slicker.
  5. Rustguard

    Rustguard New Member

    Its exactly as I said. but as there are always many myths circulating, I have always wondered if this is true.
    selecting suede has nothing to do with chemical properties, but with friction and co-efficiencies, to be technical.

    Unfortunately yes, as studios branch out into warehouses and community centers you take what you get, but here (perth AUS) the good ballrooms and hotel ballrooms, some town halls are still waxed

    Yes, I refer back to your first line. I think people who know how to wax a floor well have become something of a rarety, haven't they? :(

    Oh dear hope it is ok now. I myself prefer a fast floor too.

    Talc while good for emergency floor stick; would be a nightmare on waxed floors. I imagine it would turn into grinding paste? never seen it done. Though used it heeps at salsa venues. Also I know if you use it on timber floors, being so fine it works it way into the grain of the timber. If re-coating and you don't throughly clean it out, it turns into a big mess! Its always the salsa and tango crowds doing the powder thing, ballrooms seem to sort their floors out before the dance lol
  6. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    I wouldn't know, I only dance ballroom and almost never socially, but it was the only competition I've done where the floor was a permanent part of a building and not purpose built for dancing. So whoever was responsible for keeping it in order was thinking clean and pretty, not suitable for dance. (Still a fun comp.)
  7. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    I've never heard that explanation, either. Suede just provides the perfect amount of traction for ballroom dancing on a typical floor, because it allows you to slide without being too slick.
  8. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    Yes, it makes a disgusting mess, and takes hours to sort out. The only thing I ever put on a floor (and this is only if it is not waxed, but too fast) is pure soap flakes, and then very sparingly. They perform very like wax, but do no lasting damage either to the floor or the shoes of the dancers.

    The biggest problem with the studio I mentioned that overwaxes its floor, is that is then allows people on to the floor in street shoes, and they walk a whole lot of dirt from the street with them. That turns into a horrible dark paste, and it is not uncommon, after a session with a whole load of little girls dancing (they seem to be losing their hair faster than me), to find matted hairs, dirt and sequins and goodness knows what else caked onto the bottom of my shoes. Ugh. The only broom on the premises is 30 years old, almost bald and only a foot wide, and they could usefully invest in a decent scissor mop and require the instructors to sweep the floor (it isn't large and would take >1m) before and after every session. As it is ...
  9. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    The original " name " for them was " Non Skids ".. point being, they gave traction on " fast " floors .
  10. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    How times change.. I remember the day when , one was not allowed to use anything but "dance " shoes .

    The best floor treatment is Parafin wax.. a good buffing once a week is all the floor needs .And, PLEASE, NO polyurathane !!
  11. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    How times change.. I remember the day when , one was not allowed to use anything but "dance " shoes .

    The best floor treatment is Parafin wax.. a good buffing once a week is all the floor needs .And, PLEASE, NO polyurathane !!
  12. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Ive seen them come in Sneakers !!
  13. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    I certainly agree about the polyurathane, but I'm not really sold on parafin wax - it's cheap, but it is an oil product derivative, and ends up greasy and will never be absorbed into the fabric of the floor. I much prefer traditional beeswax, on a floor finished, ideally, with shellac. The beeswax hardens (parafin doesn't), and if you buff the parafin to the point that it isn't slimy, you might as well have used something else in the first place.
  14. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Never had that experience, with any of the floors ( and thats a bunch ) in studios Ive owned.
  15. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    I think this is related to quantity. The studio I'm writing about has a moulinex cheese grater, and wax beads that come in 1kg drums. The cheese grater is filled up, and then you walk around the floor, cranking the handle, and out come flakes of wax, left for dancers to tread into the floor with the soles of their shoes. Backward walks leave visible marks in the wax, as the heel tip is drawn through it, and heel turns leave circular swirls. This is too much, methinks. As the floor starts to get a bit 'dry' it becomes slippy, but the only way to slow it down, again, is to get the cheese grater out.
  16. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    :eek:. Never in all my " dance " yrs ,have I ever heard anything so stupid ! .

    No wonder you have the perception.
  17. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    Actually, the best finish for a floor is none.
    danceronice likes this.
  18. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Moot point.. having danced,competed, on some of what was considered the " best " in the UK for e.g. ( Hammersmith Palais, and the B/room above the Odeon in Brighton , are 2 of many) both had been "treat ", with P.wax. and buffed thereafter .(cant speak to current standards ).

    So, as they say, speak as you find.
  19. Riplash

    Riplash Member

    In my limited experience/opinion consistency in the floor is way more important. Meaning if the floor is slow it is slow throughout, and if it is fast--well it is fast throughout. I think one of the cool things about suede soles is that it is "forgiving" in that it averages all the floor surfaces much more than any other shoe sole that I know of.
    But regardless of whatever sole your sole is made of. One thing that bothers me is uneven floors.--Meaning in some places the floors are really fast or slick, then later you find some place where the floor really grabs your shoe--and body. That is far worse in my opinion than the floor being fast or slow.


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