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Dance shoes on the cheap

Post by Nyree MacPherson


When I first started dancing, I was going to a bar and wearing Birkenstocks. They didn’t even have a heel strap. This is not a dance shoe I would suggest. It took a few months for me to finally decide that I should ‘invest’ in a dance shoe for real.Unfortunately, I decidedly didn’t have the money for the real ones. So for all you new dancers on very tight budgets, I present to you my top 4 picks for shoes to dance in for under $20.


Chinese Laundry Shoes- ~$2/pair

Chinatown is the place to go for the very cheapest shoes. While leather is  the best material for your shoe soles, hard plastic will slide well on most floors as well. My very first shoes were the Chinese laundry slippers. they aren’t great, but they were a perfect starter shoe and they were way better than Birks. If you find yourself downtown without a dance shoe, this is a decent option.


Gaff tape- ~$10 for enough tape to last a year

Taping your shoes can be a great way to get through a single night of dancing. Your very best option is gaff tape. the fabric is soft and smooth and can hold up to a whole night. Remember to always tape lengthwise to avoid peeling.

You can get gaff tape at most hardware stores but if you visit Rotblotts on Adelaide, they have dozens of colours and extra wide tape that will cover a whole shoe width.


Used Bowling shoes- ~$10

Bowling shoes are by far my favourite dance shoes. This is the cheapest way to get a pair of leather soles. The heels are still rubber which means no heel slides, but it also means that you can catch your balance after quick spins. It also helps make sure you stay on the balls of your feet. I have picked up a few pairs in various places. Kensington Market and Value Village usually have some around and I’ve got mine for $8 each. Toronto Lindy Hop does not condone ‘forgetting’ to take off your rental shoes at the bowling alley.

Men’s Dress Shoes 

Another great option at second hand stores is men’s shoes. Even as a lady with very small feet, I have found leather soled, worn in shoes. I’ve found them for around $10.

A simple sole cushion will also make them really comfy and help fix up sizing if you have narrow feet.


Ballet practice slippers

These are great especially if you are inclined towards blues and dancing in places with nice floors. They are suede soled and fold nicely into a purse.


Having just done this, its actually really easy and the result is great! Find a scrap of suede at a local leather or fabric store, trace your sole and cut it out. Then just stick it to the clean shoe sole using contract cement. The result is great and you get to choose your most comfortable pair of shoes! Added bonus: if you use a tacky old suede piece of clothing you can get a ton of colour options!

At the end of the day, as long and your shoes are comfortable and you don’t stick to the floor too much, you are gonna be fine.

What about you? Have you found any great shoes to use before upgrading to ‘real’ dance shoes?

 by Nyree MacPherson