Let’s talk about getting fancy: it starts with your feet and can make or break an outfit. That’s right, I’m talking about shoes.
In this post, I’m going to talk about shoes/boots that are traditionally considered “women’s” shoes sd(Kevin will write to you about traditional “men’s” shoes in another post). One of the many amazing things about our dance community is that it’s big enough to support full-time Lindy Hoppers who are in the business of swing – they realized that there was a need for shoes, clothing, and accoutrements and they have created some beautiful pieces for us.
First things first: There’s a fabulous Facebook group dedicated to all things Dance Shoes and you should definitely check it out. It’s a great place to talk about shoes and to buy and trade shoes that you’re no longer using.
FACEBOOK GROUP: Women’s Swing Dance Shoes Hunt!
As someone who tries to be an educated consumer, I think it’s important to spend your money wisely. For example, I would rather support a shoe or clothing company run by a Lindy Hopper than a general company because I want them to be successful. I want people who are making attire for “us” to be supported by “us.” Ya feel me? On top of that, they get it — they know how the Lindy Hop community dresses, what it’s like to spend a night dancing up a storm, and know how important a killer pair of dance shoes are.
That’s why I need to give a shoutout to Saint Savoy shoes and the owner and designer, Rani Patricia. I love Rani’s eye for design, she puts a ton of love and care into her shoes, AND she’s a Lindy Hopper (just like you and me). Her shoes are exceptional quality and come in some of the most stunningly beautiful colors. Of all of the shoe companies in our community, I think Rani is making some of the most high-quality heels made in the world of dance today and deeply cares about the happiness of her customers.
There’s no “right way” to do this, as it all comes down to what best makes you feel fabulous, but there are recommended times for flats vs. heels.
When I train or compete, I’m in flats. I need to be able to pound on my feet over and over again while I’m working on my rhythm or training my jazz and I don’t want to spend time thinking about how I’m connecting to the floor. When I compete, I do so in flats because it’s what I’ve spent my time training in AND I need to feel grounded and stable while my adrenaline is up.
That being said, there’s nothing like a gorgeous pair of heels, and it’s totally possible to compete in them. Just check out two of my favorite Lindy Hop followers that I see compete in heels: Sarah Breck and Jenn Runyan. They’re powerful, graceful, and clever.
Sarah Breck competing in heels
Jenn Runyan competing in heels
As I’m sure you know, not all heels are created equal. In our community, we’re lucky to have amazing companies run by Lindy Hoppers who understand what makes a great pair of heels. Not only should they make you feel amazing when you put them on, but they need to be comfortable as well. For me, a perfect pair of heels need to be supportive, durable, comfortable on my skin, and a “conversation-starter.” If I’m going to wear a pair of heels, I want people to notice!
Perhaps you love the look of heels, but feel like they’re too high or not terribly sturdy. I totally felt the same way, until better, more dance-friendly shoes were made. There are some great lower heels that are 1.5 inches or lower, like the gorgeous Saint Savoy RIVIERA (available in several colors), which have a 3.5cm/1.38” heel. The height and construction of the shoe makes it a fabulous choice to help you feel stable and fancy.
I personally also love the look of a higher shoe, like the Saint Savoy GRACE, which is a 6cm/2.36” heel. Not too high and oh-so-gorgeous. My favorite is to pair these with black jeans – from casual to fancy at a moment’s notice.
Word to the Wise: The shoes you wear will make you feel and dance differently so don’t be afraid to bring your shoes to class or practice so that you’re more comfortable on the division dance floor!
You might also find that a different side of you comes out as you change your footwear. I personally feel like a completely different dancer in heels than in flats, and even I use a different set of variations when dancing!
There are lots of great shoe brands available to Lindy Hoppers these days, and Saint Savoys are a personal favorite. In the hopes of supporting more of our community members, here’s a list of some of the companies I know about. I’m choosing to list only the brands that I know are made by Lindy Hoppers, and “**” by the companies I personally wear and love.
I’m guessing if you’re reading this, you’re already hooked, and a pretty committed Lindy Hopper. You’re probably even a lifer like me. Let me say this: it’s so totally worth investing in your feet. Not only will excellent shoes look and feel great, but they’ll be so much better for your body and overall physical health too. I cannot impress upon you enough that great dance shoes can make a world of difference!
So I want to know, what are your favorite shoes? What do you look for in a great pair of dance shoes? And if you knew that the shoemakers were listening, what would you want them to consider when making future models?