How to Choose the Best Salsa Dance Shoes

Finding the best salsa dance shoes is an essential part of your Latin Dance learning journey. A good pair of dance shoes can ensure you’re comfortable for hours of lessons, or time on the dance floor, while making you look your best and making spins look effortless.

The best salsa dance shoes really depends on every person and their specific preferences. In fact, in recent years, so many new brands and designs have come out that a new dancer now has a huge selection of styles and high quality shoes to choose from. At the same time, this overload of choices can be a bit overwhelming.

In this article we’ll help you narrow down the most important factors to help you easily, and confidently make your first dance shoe purchase.

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Do you need dance shoes for Salsa?

First, let’s address the most pressing question on every beginner dancer’s mind. Are dance shoes really necessary for salsa? Well, like many of life’s answers, it depends.

If you’re only taking a lesson or two for kicks or going to a one off event, buying a dance shoe just to use for a night isn’t necessary. But if you’re remotely serious about actually learning Salsa, buying a dance shoes are a must.

As a beginner, you’d never expect that so much thought goes into the anatomy of a dance shoe. It’s truly the secret weapon that every dancer needs to execute every move. The support provided by arches, heels, and soles not only prevents injury, but also maximizes comfort. The material of the soles of the shoes, are also crucial to executing fast and smooth spins and turns, which also helps prevent knee injuries.

Related: The most popular Salsa Styles you can learn

The most important factors for Salsa Shoes

black salsa shoes on bed sandals high heels

The Fit

More than any other dance shoe, the fit of Salsa shoes or Latin Dance shoes are really important. Your new dance shoes should ideally fit like a glove. A great fitting dance shoe can really be a game changer.

Make sure to pay special attention to the fit and feel around your ankles, as that will improve your movement and prevent injuries. Initially, the shoe should feel a little snug, as your shoes will stretch and conform to your feet over time. However, they should not be uncomfortably tight.

Dance shoe sizes are similar to street shoe sizes. If you have wide feet, you may want to try half a size larger than your normal shoe size. If your feet are narrow, you want want to go down half a size.

Heel Height

Women’s salsa shoes usually have some type of heels. Salsa shoes can range from half an inch to 4 inches. Salsa heels are generally 2-3 inches. Shoes with heels gives Salsa a more elegant look and feel, but the challenge is that many beginners will find it difficult to dance in heels especially if – like me – they don’t have much experience with heels.

Advanced dancers will feel more comfortable with higher heels and beginners should start with a heel height of no more than 2.5 inches. The higher the heel, the more weight goes to the ball of your foot. With a lower heel, you can distribute weight to other parts of your foot, which will make it a bit easier if you’re new to Salsa. Ideally, you should always have your weight on the balls of your foot, but this does take some time. As you gain more strength in your foot, you can start standing higher and dancing with higher heels.

Heel Styles

Stiletto Heels

stiletto salsa heel height and style
Salsa Stiletto Heel Chart

Thin stiletto heels are generally for more advanced dancers and for competitions. The highest heels are usually Stiletto heels. They look the most dramatic and graceful from an aesthetic point of view. These are a good choice if you are used to walking in very high heels or have experience dancing – and your foot is already quite strong.

Flared Heels

flared salsa heel height and style
Salsa Flared Heel Chart

Flared heels are much more stable and offer much more support. The shape of the heel increases at the base of the heel, creating a more stable foundation, while also giving length. This type of heel is recommended for beginners, as flared heel heights are lower, and the shape gives it more stability.

Low / Cuban Heel

Cuban salsa heel height and style
Salsa Cuban Heel Chart

Lowest heels or the Cuban Salsa heel is also a great choice for beginners and is a common heel height for practice shoes. This type of heel provides the best support and is a good option if you absolutely do not feel comfortable in heels.

Toe Design

Open toe shoes are popular among Latin Dances such as salsa, rumba, and tango. These dance style movements include a lot of to pointing movements. Open toe designs make it a bit easier to point your toe, and the aesthetic impact is much more dramatic. Close toed shoes are more common ballroom dancers.

Overall Shoe Support

You’ll also want to pay attention to the overall shoe support. The best salsa dance shoes have plenty of support at the base of your foot, as well as the arch of your feet. There should be enough padding and cushion at the base of your foot to ensure you’re comfortable after hours of dancing. The heels and arches should also feel firm, so you are supported. This is essential to preventing any ankle and foot injuries.

Sole Material

Salsa shoes generally have two types of soles – suede and leather. Suede soles are more delicate and are ideal for indoor dancing and leather soles can be used for both indoor and outdoor dancing. Salsa shoes are generally not meant for outside or everyday use because of the sole material (leather / suede).

Suede soles are the most common among salsa dancers because the material gives good control of the floor, preventing slipping, while allowing smooth and fast spins at the same time. For beginners, suede is recommended.

A pair of leather soled salsa shoes are good to have if you’re go out to social clubs or salsa bars often. They don’t get damaged as easily if for example you accidentally stepped on a spilled drink. Stepping in anything wet, immediately damages suede soles.


Price is also an important consideration. Salsa shoes can range greatly from $10 to upwards of $300. Fortunately the best salsa dance shoe isn’t always the most expensive shoe. You can find an exceptional pair perfect customized to your preferences at any price point. You can find a quality pair of salsa shoes from $18 to $50, check out our Salsa Shoe recommendations and get ready to tear it up on the dance floor!

Salsa Practice Shoes

Buying a pair of Salsa Practice Shoes is a good option if you’ll be practicing Salsa frequently many hours per week. Practice dance shoes are designed to absorb heat, stop bacterial growth, and keep you comfortable. Materials that made of breathable leather or lightweight lycra mesh are great for practice shoes.

Recommended Practice Shoe: YYTing Practice Salsa Shoe

YYTing is known for high quality dance shoes that don’t break the bank.

This practice shoe has sweat absorbing breathable lining, with a elastic latex midsole, that allows maximum flexibility and comfort. The low heel is best for many hours of dancing.

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