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Your typical street shoe has a rubber (or rubber like bottom). This makes turning in shoes like this very difficult because they grip the floor and create too much friction. Practically, this can be concern for injury; if one isn't careful, you could potentially find your body turning without your foot turning and cause damage to your knee. This is why ballroom shoes have a SUEDE BOTTOM. The suede bottom offers a perfect combination of slip and grip to keep you comfortably turning without twisting, and gliding without sliding.
Most shoes have a harder, thicker sole. Ballroom shoes have a very flexible sole that can nearly be bent in 1/2 either direction allowing dancers to really articulate and roll through their feet as they dance. You rarely find ballroom dancers stomping about; street shoes cause more flat-footed stomping steps, whereas ballroom shoes give you the flexibility to point, flex and articulate gracefully through your feet.
As much as you might like to, you can't wear your dance shoes like regular street shoes (jazz sneakers are an exception to this rule and those can be worn outside). Because your ballroom shoes have a suede bottom, they are only meant to be worn on smooth surfaces (like dance floors). Surfaces like cement, asphalt and other similar surfaces would literally wear a hole through the sole eventually (note to self: Never again take your over-priced ballroom shoes purchased from an L.A. dance studio to an outdoor Cuban Salsa Festival on the streets of LA unless you're looking to buy a new pair....). Grass and dirt would ruin the bottoms, and any kind of liquid, including water, make the soles feel like gum. Keeping your soles clean, dry and used on smooth surfaces is a must!
If you tried standing on the edge of 1 of your street shoe heels you'd probably snap it off. The heels on a good ballroom shoe (like ours) are reinforced well and you can trust your weight on them as you move your weight on, off and over them in all directions.
If you tried dancing in typical street shoes, you would run the risk of a couple of things happening......
1. The straps snapping. Street shoes aren't made for the kind of movement you plan on doing in your dance heels. The construction isn't nearly as good and the straps might pull out or snap. (I've had this happen trying to dance in street shoes before, so I speak from experience). Your ballroom shoes are made exactly for the stress you will put them under and are ready for the challenge!
2. Your foot slipping around in the shoe. The straps of a street shoe were put their to be fashionable, not functional on a dance floor. They were not designed to keep your foot from sliding around inside of it. Your ballroom shoes were designed to be both fashionable AND functional with this purpose in mind.
3. The shoe coming off. Think of some of the cute slip-on shoes you own, a few moves and these shoes may end up on a different part of the floor than you are. Ballroom shoes keep your foot safely and securely in the shoe.
You ballroom dance shoes should fit like a glove. Most people are used to a little extra room in their street shoes, but you definitely don't want that to be the case with your dance shoes. 1. Your foot would slip around inside of them instead of hugging them securely, and 2. When your shoe goes out past the front of your toes all that is, is a tripping hazard for you. Open toed ballroom shoes should not extend out much past the tip of your big toe, and closed toed shoes should end just in front of your toes, without the toes actually pushing against the inside of the shoe uncomfortably, but without much of a gap in front of them either. Close toed shoes should feel secure, but not stuffed.
BONUSfor the Ladies: Most of our ballroom heels have a quick clasp buckle system. You set the buckle position once and from then on all you have to do is slide the buckle into place. No more messing with traditional buckles. The quick clasp system makes taking your dance shoes on and off a breeze! I truly wish ALL of my shoes were made like this!