Ballroom Bargains – May 2015 Edition

I just missed the pre-Mother’s Day sale at Danceshopper, but they might have another special (10% off or thereabouts) around Memorial Day.

They have a LOT of Dance America items on sale, and I’ve put together a list of outfits you can mix-and-match.  Particularly if you like red.  So much red.  (They are non-returnable, so make sure you really want them!)

Another color is jade.  These items are all in size small:

Some of the items listed above are available in royal (blue), but there were fewer.  I’ve starred those for your convenience.

Two more items in royal:

A few items in oxblood:

Other Apparel Brands

Victoria Blitz Ballroom Dance Dress – Lacy Top, black x-large, $263

Santoria Paradeisos Ballroom Dance Dress, variety of sizes/colors, $209

RS Atelier Carlotta Kimono Ballroom Dress (doesn’t look anything like a kimono to me), small black, $213

Gio Mio Magnella Geometric Pattern Latin Dress in medium black/white.  Definitely a unique design! $175

Espen Edelweiss Off-Shoulder Ruche Dance Top in small or medium, $119-$135

Capezio Cap-Sleeve Rhinestoned Leotard, $38

Capezio Ruffle Tank Top, $27

Metallic Halter Dress, $29

Shoes

Freed of London Sylvia Latin Shoes in a few sizes, $77-101

Supadance 1531 smooth shoes (better for wider feet), in a couple of sizes, $105

General Sales:

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Ballroom Bargains, January 2015

I frequent various dance apparel and shoe websites in my free time (or to procrastinate…ahem), and was inspired by my good friend’s Lululemon blog (old dance friend, actually!) to pass on those deals to you.  I don’t know if this will become a regular feature or what, but we’ll see how it goes.  Please let me know if you have any luck with these, or insider knowledge about other websites!  Also, shop responsibly 😉

Women’s Dance Shoes:

Freed Holly Latin shoes at Danceshopper. Marked down to $59 from $119, in a wide variety of sizes. I have never tried these, personally, but my first two pairs of Latin shoes were Freed, and they were pretty good and cheaper for the UK brands.  This seems like a steal!

Capezio Lorelei Latin/social shoes at Danceshopper.  Marked down to $70-ish from $250.  They’re kind of crazy, but maybe you want them for a performance or social dancing.  Not generally recommended for competition purposes, but if you’re a unique person, do you!

Capezio Jemma Latin/social shoes at Danceshopper.  Marked down to $70-ish from $209.  I think the white/silver ones are pretty nice for social dancing or maybe even for competitions if you are super super pale.

IDS Tanya Latin shoes at Danceshopper. Marked down to $77 from $119. I think this is a solid brand, though I’ve never tried them.  Very basic but pretty criss-cross-strap Latin shoe, works for competition.

Supadance 1029 from Danceshopper. T-strap Latin shoe, comes in a variety of colors, sizes, and heel heights, priced from $87-$115.

Ray Rose Monsoon in size 8 (UK), 3-inch heel, from Back Bay Dancewear.  $60.  Very specific, but an awesome deal on a great shoe. Normally 2.5-3-times in price.

Freed Valencia practice shoes, slip-on style, 1.5-inch Cuban heel, from Danceshopper.  Marked down to $59 from $118.  I have a similar model that laces up instead, Roma, that I like a lot! I’m on my second pair of those.

Supadance 1227 oxford-style practice shoes.  $104- $118 from $139. Some really nifty patterns!  I’ve never seen stingray patterns on ballroom shoes.  Hmmm really tempted to get these myself!….but, poor grad student who spends too much money on ballroom already 😦

Werner Kern Laura standard court shoes from Back Bay Dancewear, $79.  Haven’t tried this brand, but I’ve heard good things.

Supadance 1012 standard court shoes with instep strap, from Danceshopper.  $104-$126 from $149. These are pretty popular, but I prefer the diagonal strap of the 1004s. The security of the strap is really nice.

Supadance 1008 standard elasticized court shoes with round toe, from Danceshopper. $110-ish from $149, only comes in smaller sizes.  I had a pair of these and they were nice, just weren’t the right fit for my foot.  They’re quite popular.

Supadance 2003 standard pointed-toe court shoes with wraparound strap, from Danceshopper. $110-ish from $149, smaller sizes. These are a newer model, I think.

Women’s Dance Clothing (prices aren’t all listed because they are highly variable):

Zdenka Arko slitted smooth/standard skirt, M/L and red or yellow, from Danceshopper

Espen Salberg long-sleeved ruched crossover top, from Danceshopper

Espen Salberg halter-ish top, from Danceshopper

Lulu Couture Black Swan long-sleeved drapey top, from Danceshopper

Santoria Kinanu black and white top, from Danceshopper

Arc Crystal Halter Top from e.K.Clothing, $19, L turquoise color only

Sheer Overlay Halter Top from e.K.Clothing, $18, comes in larger sizes but runs small

Boy short dance pants from e.K.Clothing, $5!!! ESSENTIAL and they come in all sorts of colors to match your dresses

Santoria Miolenae Buckle practice trousers, from Danceshopper

Gaucho pant from e.K.Clothing, $18 in a variety of sizes and colors

Chula ruffled Latin skirt from e.K.Clothing, $23 in fringe sizes

Embossed lace dress from e.K.Clothing, $27, medium in black/jade.  Good syllabus USA Dance-friendly option with no sparkles.

Tulle Standard/Smooth Dress from Light in the Box, $62 from $155, variety of colors and sizes.

Men’s Stuff! (I don’t know much about these, but here are some links anyway.)

Freed Latin Competition Shoes, from Danceshopper.  Marked down to $69-80 from $138. Wide variety of sizes, though it looks like most of them are wide-width as opposed to regular-width.

Freed Standard Practice Shoes, from Danceshopper.  $69 from $138.  Lots of sizes.

Satin tie from e.K.Clothing, $4, in a variety of colors, to match your partner’s outfit or just add some general schnaz.

General site links:

Danceshopper.com sale section. US site that should have quick shipping on in-stock stuff and I believe you can still return sale items just kidding, clearance is FINAL SALE, so make sure you want it.  I ordered some men’s shoes from here recently that got stuck in customs for over a month, but I don’t think that’s normal?

Dance-shop.com clearance (from the UK and limited sizes, but great deals and it doesn’t take as long to get to the US as you might think.  I’ve gotten shoes in a couple of weeks before.  Keep in mind the exchange rate and shipping.)

DuoDance – (UK) They claim that their sales will end, but there is ALWAYS a sale going on.  Also, relatively fast shipping for overseas.

Light in the Box (China?) sells all sorts of stuff. Quality is probably all over the place, but they have some pretty good designs and are very inexpensive.  I bought a bridesmaid’s dress from them recently, and it was of surprisingly high quality and quite cheap.  I think things take a while to get made and ship to the US.  They have some insanely cheap costume dresses (under $100) that you could use for collegiate comps.  I would probably not get shoes from there, though.

VE Dance (US). Vince and Daisy are local, very nice, and have established themselves as makers/importers/makers/whatever of quality bargain dancewear – it’s less expensive than the luxury brands but very nice stuff.  And thus super popular among collegiate dancers and recent graduates.  They also travel quite a bit, so you can try on stuff in person.

Dancesport.co.uk (UK) sale shoe section and sale apparel section. Lots of good stuff, clunky-looking website, but very helpfully organized by size.  Haven’t ordered from here, personally, but I’ve heard they’re good.

Cherry Culture sale makeup – they sell mostly NYX, which is a great bargain brand and has lots of ballroom-y bright colors.

Ballroom Shoes

Here is a quick overview on how to choose a shoe (or multiple pairs), and a few examples of the many ones available out there.  These are just some basic principles/guidelines for finding a shoe, but if you have unusually-shaped/sized feet or any foot problems, you should probably consult someone much more expert than me to find the right fit for you.  I know more about women’s shoes (obviously), but will write a bit about men’s shoes at the end.

First of all, if you want to dance regularly, you should really invest in a pair of decent ballroom dance shoes!  You’ll find everything much easier to do compared to dancing in street shoes, socks, or other dance shoes.  Other dance shoes like jazz shoes, character shoes, or ballet slippers can substitute for a while if you happen to already have them, but they are (obviously) designed for different kinds of dance. They are cheaper, but not as well-suited for ballroom as ballroom shoes are.

For Women

Beginner women should start with a Latin/rhythm sandal, because it is a bit more versatile than a standard/smooth shoe.  You can dance standard/smooth alright while wearing a Latin shoe, but it’s just really awkward to do Latin in a standard shoe. (Oddly enough, it’s the opposite for men, but I’ll get to that later).  Your basic Latin shoe looks like this:

Supadance 1403

Latin shoes are generally strappy, open-toed, with a 2.5 inch flared heel, enclosed heel cup, suede bottoms, and some sort of strap that goes around the ankle and/or the instep to secure it to your foot.  For competitive dancers, you should get tan satin shoes for competition.  The idea behind this norm is that they blend into your foot and extend your leg line (like nude-colored pumps do) and don’t show footwork flaws as readily as flashy or contrasting shoe colors.  (If you don’t care about using them in competition, you can get them in leather and all kinds of colors. Black is particularly popular.)  They should fit more snugly than your average street shoe, with your toes just barely hanging over the edge of the shoe when you’re standing up.  It’s a little weird-feeling at first, but it’s so that you can point your feet and have a nice line.  The shoes will also stretch out over time, so if you buy them to fit more comfortably, then soon they will be too loose and unsupportive.  Latin shoes also often come in 3”, but these aren’t advisable unless you are more advanced.

Women’s standard shoes generally look like this:

Supadance 1002 Court Shoe

Women’s standard shoes generally are a court style, basically like a pump.  They also have a suede bottom, but have closed toes unlike a Latin sandal.  The heels are generally narrower, either a contour (kind of a mini-flare) or a straight-up-and-down “slim” heel.  The most common heel height for standard shoes is 2.5”, but many ladies also like the lower 2” ones.  Some come with a strap across the instep to secure them, like this (my go-to shoe):

Supadance 1004

I highly recommend getting ones with straps, because I used to have a pair without them and they fell off my feet in competition a few times.  No good. You can buy clear straps to keep them on, but these just look prettier 🙂

Like Latin shoes, Standard ones should hug your feet pretty closely.  They should be snug but not painful.  They come in round and pointed toes, so you should try different variations to see which fit best on your feet.  Importantly, they should be snug enough on your feet so that they stay on! When you rise up on the balls of your feet, the heel cups of the shoe should stay on the heels of your foot, and not be loose at all.  I will warn you, Standard shoes are harder to get used to because of the restricted fit, but they make dancing Standard so much better, compared to Latin shoes!  Similarly, competition standard shoes are usually tan-colored to blend in with your foot/leg.  Unless you wear a white dress – then, your shoes should be white to match.

Tips for Women’s Shoe Care:

  • Get heel protectors that fit your shoe heels and put them on ASAP! These keep the plastic heel tips from wearing down, which is almost inevitable.  Most are clear plastic, but you can also get them with suede bottoms.  Some people also use suede stars, which you kind of wrap around the bottom and secure with tape.
  • Brush the suede soles of your shoes regularly with a shoe brush to get dirt out of the nap.  This gives them some of the original grip that the suede had when new and will make your shoes last much longer.
  • For standard shoes, spray them with a fabric protector before you wear them.  I use Scotchguard (though I can’t find it in stores anymore)  or Kiwi Protect-All.  This makes them a little more dirt-resistant and easier to clean later. Don’t spray this on the suede soles though.
  • Cleaning shoes: you can use a sponge dampened with Woolite or regular detergent in warm water to gently scrub out scuffs.  Just make sure to get the whole satin surface damp so that you don’t get water marks.  Then let dry overnight.  I’m not sure how effective this is without having sprayed fabric protector first, though.

Smooth Shoes

I haven’t owned a pair of smooth shoes, since I just use my standard ones for both, but am considering getting a pair.  They’re sort of a Latin/standard shoe hybrid – they have closed toes but are often open on the sides, so that you can point your foot more easily and make a nice line.  So, they are more flexible than Standard shoes, but also less supportive as a result.  They come in more design variations than do standard shoes.

Practice Shoes

I don’t like wearing my Standard shoes all the time because they’re not super comfy for long practices and get dirty easily, so I like to wear practice shoes for everyday.  These come in all sorts of designs, but many are leather oxfords that are similar to a man’s Latin shoe (see below).  If you want to wear them with socks, you can buy them a little bit looser than your other shoes.  Bonus: they seem to last a lot longer!

Freed Roma

Men’s Shoes

Beginner men should get a Standard oxford in black leather, like this:

Freed Modern Ballroom Shoe

They look a lot like jazz shoes, but have much more support on the bottom, with suede soles.  The shoes should fit snugly but not painfully while wearing thin dress socks.  So, your toes should come to the end of the toe box, or very close to it.  These will work for both Standard/Smooth and Latin/Rhythm.

Latin/rhythm shoes have a higher “Cuban” heel, about 1”. (They’re awkward to take heel leads in, so I guess that’s why Standard shoes work for both at first.)

Ray Rose Thunder

They’re basically the same as Standard/smooth shoes, other than the higher heel, which helps you stay more forward-weighted.  Might feel a little weird at first, since most men haven’t worn heels before.  They’re also more likely to come in split soles or with shorter shanks (the metal part in the sole that supports your foot), which help with flexibility.

Keep the suede soles brushed and the leather polished regularly, and they should last you quite a while!  I’ve also seen guys keep shoe trees in the shoe when they’re not wearing them, to maintain the shape.   Lots of guys like to buy the shiny patent leather shoes later on, which require some more care and some petroleum jelly rubbed on the inside to keep them from sticking together.  Patent shoes in particular are vulnerable to cracking, so keeping them stuffed while not worn is even more important.

Finding YOUR Shoe:

The best way to find the perfect shoe is to try them on in person, either at a dance shoe store or at a competition/event.  Unfortunately, your average dance supply store is unlikely to have many ballroom shoes to try on, so an event is your best bet.  The vendors should also be fairly knowledgeable and give you advice about what models seem to suit your feet better.  If you can’t go anywhere to try them on in person, then you’ll have to resort to buying shoes online.  Find a place with a good return policy!  Once you find the right shoe for you and are sure it works well, you can find it online for cheaper, especially directly from the UK.  Personally, I think the more expensive brands (usually European brands like Ray Rose, Supadance, International, Freed) really are higher in quality, fit better, and last longer than cheaper ones.  I had a pair of Capezio Standard shoes that weren’t as comfortable and started falling apart, with the fabric shredding, while that’s never happened with my Supadances.  Though if you’re just starting out and don’t want to invest too much, it’s fine to start with whatever you can afford (I’ve heard that Very Fine and Stephanie are good cheaper brands).  Sometimes one shoe seems to work fine, but then you might find another model that’s even better, so if you get to the point that you’re wearing shoes out left and right (get it?), you can try lots of different ones to find the perfect fit.

Some Websites:

Showtime

Danceshopper

Backbay Dancewear

Duodance (the cheapest prices I can find)

Dance-shop.com

VE Dance