Dancing shoes: What to wear on your feet?

When starting out, any light, comfortable soft shoes will do for dancing (so maybe not your Doc Martens). As long as they don’t fall off, you’re good to go. After you’ve been dancing for a little while and you decide it’s something you want to keep doing, it might be time to think about getting a pair of dancing shoes.

The club holds a limited number of second hand shoes which are available for a donation to the club. Talk to Kristin at club next time we dance. I’ve had my second hand shoes for six years now and they’re still fine.

There’s a range of dancing shoes to choose from. Photo: Loralee Hyde

Shoes for women

Women have a couple of choices for dancing shoes. There are ballet style pumps with an elastic draw string. These are easier to put on than shoes with laces and cheaper to buy.

Ballet style pumps Photo: McPhee’s

Then there are ghillie style pumps with long laces which feel more secure on the foot because of the laces. You don’t have to worry about your foot slipping out as it may do with the elastic pumps.

Ghillie style pumps Photo: Loralee Hyde

You can get both ballet style and ghillie style shoes with built-in cushioning. If you have minor foot problems or dance a lot and get sore feet, then the extra cushioning makes these very comfortable.

Alternatively you can use a variety of insoles for cushioning, and/or any orthotics you may have.

Shoes for men

Blokes generally use the ghillie style pumps with long laces that criss-cross over your foot and then wind round your ankle. These are a bit of a pain to put on but once on, they are very comfortable and feel much better to dance in than ‘normal’ shoes because they are light and soft.

Ghillies Photo: McPhee’s

These can also be had with built-in cushioning for extra comfort, or you can customise standard ghillies with your own cushioning which you cut to fit.

Jazz shoes for all

Some people prefer shoes that have a little bit more support than dance pumps can offer, or need a small heel if they have a tendency to achilles problems. Jazz splits offer both support and a small heel.

Jazz shoes Photo: Loralee Hyde

Where can you buy dance shoes?

Pumps (ballet and ghillie style) are available locally from McPhee’s, where Elaine Rowse is happy to answer any questions. If you would like to try on some shoes you can make an appointment to visit her in Karori. Phone 04 476 0139 or Ph/Text 021 587 315 or email

Jazz splits are available from Gubbs Shoes in Wakefield Street, Wellington and also from Dance Stop in Queen’s Drive, Lower Hutt.

You can of course also buy shoes online from other suppliers, but it can be hard initially to find the right shoe without trying them on.

Many thanks to Club President Kristin for a lot of the information in this article. She is definitely the person to talk to about dancing shoes.

Secretary: Robert Vale

Robert Vale
3 March 2022

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