Soft-soled shoes are recommended as this style of dance involves turning which can’t be done safely in rubber-soled shoes. Because classes are held on a polished wooden floor, please change into your dance shoes when you arrive at class or a ball. This helps preserve the soles of your shoes and keeps outside dirt from grinding into the floor.
For gentlemen, leather-soled black dress shoes are appropriate, but can be heavy and stiff. Alternates are black ballet slippers or fabric jazz shoes available at dance supply stores. They will have leather or suede soles and be either a single sole (1 piece of leather or suede covering the entire bottom) or a split sole (leather or suede on the toe and heel only with the instep in the shoe material. At this point it doesn’t matter which sole you select.
Ladies may also choose ballet slippers or a higher-heeled shoe, from 1-2”, whatever is most comfortable for you. Look for “character” shoes from the different dance shoe companies, either a single strap or T-strap are appropriate, usually black or beige as you may want to wear different colored dresses. Ballet flats are most appropriate for Regency and Mid-19th century dances, while character shoes are period-correct for Late 19th century to the 1930s. Street shoes are usually not successful as they have rubber soles which interfere with turning and do not have the support or comfort of character dance shoes. Balls last 4 hours and you will want to dance the whole time.
Ballet flats (not toe shoes) are adjusted by pulling the string around the top of the shoe and retying it at the toe. You may want to put a Band-Aid or moleskin on your heel where the string crosses as it can dig in painfully until you become used to it. Ballet flats will have an elastic strap to help hold it on your foot. If the elastic feels too loose, a few stitches to the side of the slipper can tighten it. Or you can crisscross two 1/4” wide elastic pieces across the top of each foot sewing the ends to the sides of the slipper.
For both ballet flats and jazz shoes, there is no padding and no support so the foot can be flexed as much as possible. It is more comfortable to add foam or gel insoles, replacing them as needed. Do watch for blisters. If you are prone to them in reliable places, a preventative Band-Aid applied before putting on socks and shoes, will be more comfortable. A foot massage/rub after class feels good, too!
You will want to arrive at 7:15pm to change into your dance shoes. Because of the soft soles, your shoes will last longer and stay cleaner if not worn outside. I have found totes plastic over-the-shoe rain boots to work well when coming from the car to class and back. Wearing socks or nylons will also help preserve your shoes from foot perspiration.
General attire for class has been to wear comfortable clothing that allows for movement. Since some of the dances can be rather aerobic, you may want to layer accordingly. Most dancers either wear short sleeves, or roll up long ones before the evening is out. Ladies are welcome to wear pants or full skirts (check out the thrift stores!) which swish so nicely.
Gentlemen, when you arrive at class, you may want to empty your pockets into your street shoes to avoid jingly weight, and to roll up your pant cuffs as dance shoes are lower to the floor than street shoes.