flats vs heels

Discussion in 'Just Dance' started by londongirl, Jan 28, 2013.

  1. londongirl

    londongirl Shine Officer

    Seeing as I'm now doing classes mostly in jazz shoes (suede sole), I've switched to them for social dancing too, mostly because it gives me waaaay more freedom for shines.

    Unlike a year ago when wearing jazz shoes to dance meant I wobbled around like anything, I don't notice any negative effects anymore, if anything, it's better as I feel more aware of how I am connecting with the floor.

    But curious about your experiences...

    Questions for followers who've switched from heel to jazz shoes:
    Why did you do it? How long had you been dancing when you started wearing flats for social dancing? Do you still wear heels (how often) or are you totally converted?
    Benefits (short and long term)? Negatives or things I should watch out for (short and long term)?

    Questions for leaders:
    What do you think when you see a follower wearing jazz shoes? Do you even notice? What, if any, assumptions do you make? Do you notice any difference in followers wearing heels vs flats? Or if you know a follower who switches between both is there a noticeable difference in her dancing (positive/negative?)

    Questions for experts (ie Terence)
    Does it matter whether I dance in heels or jazz shoes? Anything to watch out for?

    Thanks!! :)
  2. terence

    terence Maestro 'Descarga' Cachao

    Weve had this discussion in the past, so here we go again.

    Heels help to distribute the weight in a more fwd direction ( Ball ).It "sets " the Pitch . And do I notice ? you bet I do. I always tell my new students, NO flats .

    The speed and power generated in todays social dance, is not to be compared with dancing on a beach ,or on the odd occasion, If flat shoes were more practical in partnership, then WHY would every dance discipline were heels ? ( Jazz/ Ballet apart ,as it mostly is ! ).
    Sabrosura likes this.
  3. vit

    vit El Sabroso de Conguero

    In my venue, some girls are wearing heels and some jazz shoes or dance sneakers (it was similar on congress parties I visited). Some of them are switching to flats later in the night when they get tired in heels

    I actually didn't notice much difference in their dancing. If the lady is used to dance in heels, she doesn't change much her technique when wearing flats, meaning she is still dancing mostly on balls of the feet (which sometimes looks a bit funny). I would say it is 98+% about her dancing skills and 2-% about her shoes. Many of good dancers are wearing flats

    From visual side, I prefer short girls with heels (so they don't look too short) and tall girls with flats (so they don't look too tall)
  4. GroovyMambo

    GroovyMambo Sonero

    Some of my favorite followers routinely wear flats (jazz, jingas, or even street flats!). What I've noticed is that depending on the construction of the shoes, especially the soles, and the dance surface, executing multiple turns might be more difficult than when wearing heeled dance shoes. On the other hand, dancing in flats tends to give them more freedom in terms of foot placement, e.g.landing flat-footed or transferring their weight to their heels, which can be useful during shines. I don't think about a follower's footwear choice as long as she can dance comfortably. As vit said, it's mostly about her dance skills.

    I've noticed this too! It looks weird if she keeps her heels 2 - 4 inches off the ground, rather than lowering her heels but keeping her weight on the balls of her feet.
  5. terence

    terence Maestro 'Descarga' Cachao

    You just made my point
  6. olamalam

    olamalam El Sabroso de Conguero

    i prefer them switching to flats when they are tired.
    rather than saying "ohh i'm tired" or "my feet hurt"
    AndrewS likes this.
  7. premier

    premier Shine Officer

    Yeah I don't mind them wearing flats. A good follower is a good follower in regardless of their shoe choice. But it's no secret ladies look better in heels ;)

    A follower wearing flats gives off a vibe "I'm a hard core dancer, a swing dancer, a beginner who hasn't bought her first pair of heels yet, or I'm just too tired to wear heels, approach with caution, you never know which it is" ;)
    salsamarty likes this.
  8. Lawndart

    Lawndart Tumbao

    It's possible I would notice my follower was wearing flats when/if I looked. High heels are more attractive. But I hate the thought of someone hurting there feet just to look good.

    What about for leaders... Does a slight heel (1 or 1.5 inch) make a difference regarding speed and power?
  9. premier

    premier Shine Officer

    I once tried cuban heels shortly for shines and it felt really good. Very good touch to the floor etc. But I can imagine how that would kill my feet so I didn't buy my own pair :D (I've had feet problems with flats too)
  10. londongirl

    londongirl Shine Officer

    I did search before I posted but all I found were beginners asking, or people asking because they were having foot-problems of one kind or another.

    OKay - new students I understand. But I was talking about *me* :D Let's assume (ha!) I have decent technique, and I can maintain the weight distribution correctly and keep my heels around 1/2 inch to an inch off the ground (I agree trying to keep them 3 inches off the ground is nuts)....in this case does it really matter?

    I see a bunch of girls in salsa socials in 'proper' dance shoes with heels of 1/2 inch to an inch, why specifically is that different to wearing flats and maintaining the heel off the ground at a similar height? Do I really need to be two or more inches off the ground for salsa?? Or, is there an optimum height I should aim to keep my heel off the ground when dancing salsa in my flat jazz shoes?

    Not that I have the faintest idea, but I'd assumed that heels are an historical hangover from when women wore them out socially to be "smart" and "feminine" as much as for any technical reason; And lots of women that dance Cuban style are dancing in flat shoes (more 'African'?), also the heels in a lot of classic ballroom dancing and WCS are very low relative to salsa/latin (ok, ok, I know for WCS it's because the weight is settled further back than salsa/and for the way the basic step is done)...does salsa require (aesthetically/technically) a greater pitch than these other dances?

    Given that in salsa you are supposed to not have the shoe-heel touch the ground most of the time, what then is the actual benefit of have a physical vs a mental heel?

    Re the speed and power of today's social dancing:
    This is the first clip I ever saw with a woman wearing flats, whatever you think about the dancing, there is a ton of speed and power and she seems to cope fine? Would she (Masha) be dancing better in heels?

    Given most social videos of Magna have her in heels, I thought this clip was interesting, as she is wearing flats, or at least, the heel is very low...her stepping seems "softer" or is this just me imagining things?

    And, ok, it's a performance, but this is similar in style to how most of Frankie's student do partnerwork, and all his girls wear flats in class and socially (Aisha is wearing Greek Sandals in this clip), most of them cope fine dancing with frenetic non-Frankie leads.

    Sorry to labour the point, but I'm just trying to understand what effect it is going to have on me (not a beginner) to wear flats most of the time....or should I do my socials 50-50 in heels and flats?
  11. SalsaGipsy

    SalsaGipsy Capitán Del Estilo

    I started with heels, never very high, probably 2-2.25 inch. After several years I had to go to flats because of a foot injury. Later I switched back to heels for a while until one congress experience where my feet suffered so much that I bought jazz shoes there and then and refused to go back into the heels. At the moment I am changing between jazz shoes, 2 inch heels and 2.25 inch heels. After 2 hours in the 2.25 ones it gets too painful and I have to change. Which is why I never wear them to socials where I expect to dance more.

    The heels force you to step differently but I doubt that this is the most important reason why they are used. I am convinced that it's mostly because they look better. You can learn to dance well both in heels and flats and you can dance badly in both. The learning process is different though and the bad habits that you can acquire are different. Too high heels are not good for dancing and are very bad for the feet - I don't think anyone will disagree with this. So, here I assume heels between 2 and 3 inches only.

    Dancing in flats exposes your footwork problems, the heels hide a lot. I see a lot of girls who dance in flats step on the ball of the foot and I see a lot of girls who dance in heels using the heel too much. On the other hand I find it very bad practice when girls in flats stay high on their toes all the time. The foot should roll back/push into the floor starting from the ball towards the heel (whether or not the heel touches the floor) - and this should be the case for both flats and heels but it feels different and looks different.

    Flats give you more freedom in complex footwork but also require more control to make it look good - things like pointing your toes require more conscious work in flats while it can more easily be faked in heels.

    It is also true that you might be judged as probably a good dancer if you wear heels and probably a bad dancer if you wear flats. But very good dancers can easily prove themselves on the dance floor and be asked a lot anyway.

    So, it's not a simple answer what to choose. Maybe switching between them would give you the best of both worlds? And the flexibility to adapt depending on the situation.
    Offbeat and londongirl like this.
  12. londongirl

    londongirl Shine Officer

    lol, hmm, so I should coat the toes of my jazz shoes in glitter and rhinestones and wear long flared jeans so no-one can tell they are flats :p
    TwoLeftFeet likes this.
  13. vit

    vit El Sabroso de Conguero

    I have ballroom latin shoes with heels, but I'm using them only in b/room latin hobby classes. And actually it's mostly because I want to wear them down, because I bought them 2 months before I stopped competing in latin, so they are still in relatively good condition. Heels are 4 cm. That said - it's mostly for visual effect desired in b/room, you don't get speed and power with them and they are not making you a better dancer. For salsa, I'm using similar shoes like other guys in the venue - sometimes universal b/room practicing shoes with low heel (that also remained from competitive days) - if the floor isn't slippery, otherwise I'm using a pair of shoes that local dance shoemaker is making for salseros, also with relatively low heel, I also asked him to put the rubber on the sole for more grip, or I'm using tennis shoes. Some guys are also using jazz shoes and some are using sneakers
  14. Smejmoon

    Smejmoon El Sabroso de Conguero

    The same reason they undress the ladies and put on makeup and bling?
    SalsaGipsy likes this.
  15. MMaatttt

    MMaatttt Shine Officer

    So a raised heal may encourage forward weight distribution... Does having your heal down preclude correct weight distribution?
  16. terence

    terence Maestro 'Descarga' Cachao

    One does not need to raise the heal to have fwd weight, it only assists, and , the heal is essentially down 95% of the time, as there is no rise and fall in latin styles ( with the very odd exception )..
  17. timberamayor

    timberamayor Maestro 'El Diferente' Canales

    Right now I still haven't recovered from my knee injury. I can walk fine but it hurts a little and especially walking on stairs or wearing heels. Flats for me for now. Besides, after some old thread about how to do steps properly and pushing off the floor etc., I have decided I probably don't even know how to walk properly, so I can't be bothered to worry about what percentage of my weight is on the ball of my foot.
  18. salsamarty

    salsamarty Rhythm Deputy

    Masha is an awesome dancer in flats or in heels. Too bad she doesn't go out as much as she used to around here. Anyway . . . I guess I would ask if dancing in flats is more casual and affects your attitude and energy toward the dance.
  19. jiayi221

    jiayi221 Changui

    To me, it's definitely more an attitude or energy. With heels, I feel my steps are delicate and feminine (sensual even), with jazz shoes, funky and playful, with flip-flops, just grooving and relaxed.

    I'm sure there is a difference to my follow and to what my leaders feel - however, I have had many leaders surprised I was in flip flops and still doing triples without them noticing during the dance. I get the impression that the changes due to the emotion or energy I project is felt by the leader far more than weight shifts from the shoes themselves. (Unless we're talking tennies - that never works for me...)
  20. salsamarty

    salsamarty Rhythm Deputy

    I do check out shoes before asking someone to dance. If your shoe isn't connected to your heel I don't ask. Mostly it's beginners that don't have dance appropriate shoes and don't know how to dance. I don't want to be a part of them getting hurt. I have yet to see an advanced dancer dance in flip flops. Depending on what I see I might change my mind.

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