Ladies, It's Time to Give Up Your High Heels

Discussion in 'Just Dance' started by khabibul35, Jun 6, 2017.

  1. khabibul35

    khabibul35 Tumbao

    I'll admit it, I have a gripe with high heels. Firstly, it sexualizes women in a way that's unnecessary and is bad for health and posture in the long run. I find it socially problematic. However, that's not really what I want discuss here. There's even a better reason for why ladies should give up their heels when they go dancing.

    The main reason is that a high heel becomes a weapon and dangerous when beginner/intermediate dancers wear them on the dance floor. I've had a number of partners get speared by someone backstepping onto my partner's foot. When asking a woman to dance, I certainly take into account of this because I feel partly responsible for how she uses the weapons she's wearing on her feet responsibly. I'm glad to dance with a novice dancer wearing flats, as the worst that can happen is that I have to have a simple and overlead a bit to compensate for lack of experience. But when a novice dance has heels, she could easily lose balance when there's a change of direction and fall, fail to pivot correctly and fly off into an unpredictable direction, or take a backstep way too big and step on someone. For me, having to consider watch my partners heels when I dance is unpleasant, so I just avoid it and ask women who wear flats to dance unless they really know what they're doing.

    There's another downside though - heels negatively affect natural body movement. Sure it distributes your weight forward (as terrence previously noted), but it comes at a cost. When you stand on your toes, you change your center of gravity. You have to relearn how to move your body in this altered state, which is problematic if you're simultaneously trying to learn something you've never done before. Often, women will learn to execute a dance but focus on how to not fall rather than on their body movement. You can see this quite often in slot dancers, who almost exclusively wear heels. Their movements are quite stiff and generated from the joints rather than their core.

    While pushing the chest forward may make women's boobs look bigger, when the rib cage is pushed forwards you have to offset that by pushing your rib cage back during movements. The Shoulders often become stiff and arms wobble from the shoulder sockets instead of moving with their body. However, the biggest affect is on the lower body. Pushing your weight forward doesn't allow you to push your heels into the ground, which reduced hip movement. All too often women will move their hip sideways to compensate, which doesn't look good. Nobody seems to notice because when the chest is pushed forward and the derrier sticks out, it's all covered up. Even if women learn to overcome this, the knees are put under so much stress when you need to push into the ground from that angle, that it becomes nearly impossible to create the same full range of hip/get movement that happens when the foot is flat. Even the best dancers in the world cannot fully compensate for this as far as I've seen.

    Now, perhaps in ballroom dancing it's not that big of a deal since one can make an argument that the aspects of increased danger (controlled environment) and altered body movement (not a focus of the genre) are not problematic. However, dances that originated outside of dance studios aren't danced in heels (think Lindy Hop). Casino and salsa are easily in this category, they are social dances and require "Latin" movement which heels do not naturally lend themselves to. By wearing by wearing high heels, women are putting other dancers in danger and ballroom-izing social dances. To me this is a no-no and why I'm far less likely to dance as a woman to dance when I see that she's wearing heels. I know it's an uphill battle but I'd like to think that with raised awareness we can begin to shift things in the right direction.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2017
  2. LarsM

    LarsM Nuevo Ritmo

    Not all high heels are created equal. Quite a difference between low-ish 3.5 cm heels and 7.5 cm.

    I'm about as equal rights/women's rights as they come, but saying that all high heels sexualizes women is pretty far-fetched. Bad for health I can agree with, but again it's possible to get around this.

    Fully agree on the weapons of mass destruction part for beginners! Though flat-wearing beginners are still fully able to injure other dancers, the risk is definitely lessened.

    Chance of this thread degenerating into a casino vs linear endless argument: currently at 60%.
    ctcmichael, Jag75, Offbeat and 5 others like this.
  3. SalsaGipsy

    SalsaGipsy Capitán Del Estilo

    I agree with most of your arguments. However I see no specific problem with low heels - neither for movement nor for safety or health. For women the choice of dance shoes is either heels or flat jazz shoes And completely flat shoes are also not great for the feet, especially with no cushioning or other protection.

    I can't believe I find myself defending heels :facepalm: But, hey, there is a first for everything. :D

    As for the high heels, almost all good female dancers wear high heels which means it is possible to make it work. Is it more difficult? Of course. But if you present women with the choice between beautiful but unpractical footwear and unattractive practical one - guess what most will choose. :D For dance shoes there simply isn't any other choice.

    Peer pressure is also a powerful factor - both from women and men. There is a lot of judgement on the dance floor. Fortunately not from everyone, so, it is still possible for have fun while swimming against the current.
    Smejmoon, wol, MAMBO_CEC and 3 others like this.
  4. khabibul35

    khabibul35 Tumbao

    I guess I should have mentioned that I don't have anything against a bit of heel. My girlfriend wears something like this when she dances without ill affect: Link

    I'm not quite sure about how these might affect a dancer's balance: Link

    This is what I see quite often in Zurich (with >50% of them really looking quite stiff): Link
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2017
  5. UchimaSalsa

    UchimaSalsa Son Montuno

    For the beginner accident. The problem is not the heels but the dancers who don't pay attention when dancing. You can put guys backs and shoulders on the same plan.
    I'm not a doctor so can't really comment on the health aspect.
    Also I'm don't know what's this new trend of finding everything too sexualised. I guess we all have different backgrounds, culture, don't react the same way in presence of female attributes being exposed. No one is force to stare at it. I personally like it :oops:. I would be lying saying that being surrounded by sexy women had nothing to do with me starting to dance.

    To finish maybe men could stop telling what women should wear. Let's leave the dance floor as a place of freedom, please. We already have enough rules at work, society, church, schools...
    If someone (man or woman actually) was telling what shoes I have to wear, he/she will be received properly.
    akdancer, azana, mlemonl and 3 others like this.
  6. LarsM

    LarsM Nuevo Ritmo

    Let's be real though, 45% of them would probably look stiff in flats as well. Because looking really smooth is hard no matter what and takes a ton of practice. I don't see a lot of awesome body movement among the casino followers with flats either to be honest.
    akdancer likes this.
  7. vit

    vit El Sabroso de Conguero

    Having in mind that maybe 1% of world salsa population read this forum and maybe a few % of those followers is willing to give up high heels, I estimate that on bigger size congresses there will be about 0.5 followers that converted from high to low heels.

    She will be easily recognizable, having one shoe with a high heel and other with a low heel :cool:
    akdancer and LarsM like this.
  8. vit

    vit El Sabroso de Conguero

    In reality it's the opposite - they start learning dancing in high heels, so when in low heels, they start dancing on the toes which usually looks quite funny and not many actually relearn to dance that way ...
  9. khabibul35

    khabibul35 Tumbao

    It's really quite simple: if they learn to dance without heels, the won't dance on their toes - provided they learn how to distribute their weight properly. I actually see a lot of men who dance slot style dance on their toes as well. It would seem quite absurd to suggest heels as the solution, no?

    Of course, women should wear what they want. But social pressure has made it otherwise, as teachers and performers often encourage female students to buy dance shoes with heels. There's a huge misconception in dance that best dancers wear heels. All I'm trying to do is to provide a counter-argument for why it might not be such a good idea to wear heels for one's dancing. (I do admit I probably shouldn't have written something so strongly worded and so one-sided though - just got back from a night where my partner got a nasty injury as the result of a heel.)

    Ultimately, I find it sad that women who don't wear heels in day to day life end up feeling like they need to wear heels when dancing. There's not much benefit to it as far as I can tell, aside from looking sexier. I would like to see if anyone here has counterarguments to that. The only positive that I can think of is that it makes turning easier. And even then, it's bad for you in the long run since you won't be able to turn as well as someone who's is able to dance without being given this handicap.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2017
  10. SalsaGipsy

    SalsaGipsy Capitán Del Estilo

    These should be no problem. Personally I draw the line between 2.5 and 3-inch-heels but for others it could be different.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2017
  11. Offbeat

    Offbeat Maestro 'Fania' Pacheco

    Doesn't that cover all options under the sun for any man, woman or child wearing a shoe :) Unless there is a negative-heel, can't see a third option.

    In WCS I often find followers wearing more comfortable dance shoes (to my layman male eyes). They are definitely not high heels. They have shorter heels. They definitely are not attractive like Tango or Salsa shoes though.

    I am guessing women are probably more ardent supporters of high heels, than the men?

    P.S. - I have only heard about men who won't dance with anyone not wearing high heels, but yet have to meet that man.
  12. Offbeat

    Offbeat Maestro 'Fania' Pacheco


    Let me start. Casino women like low heels and men like high heels on the women. Linear women like high heels and men like no heels on the women :D
    wol, LarsM, MAMBO_CEC and 1 other person like this.
  13. SalsaGipsy

    SalsaGipsy Capitán Del Estilo

    OK I should have been more specific - thin, Latin dance heels, usually 3" or higher or flat jazz shoes. :)
  14. Offbeat

    Offbeat Maestro 'Fania' Pacheco

    There are medical/scientific studies that cite how the physiology of the foot changes in frequent high heel wearers. Other studies have shown how it causes certain problems.

    Anecdotally I can't count number of times that I know women have removed shoes after night of dancing and preferred walking holding them in hands because the feet hurts.

    Bottom line, I don't have to be a doctor to say constantly wearing high heels can be harmful to health, just like I don't have to be doctor or smoker to say smoking is harmful to health :)
  15. SalsaGipsy

    SalsaGipsy Capitán Del Estilo

    It's more about preference than exclusion. The way some will be more likely to ask a woman that is in a beautiful dress. Whether that's a loss for the other woman is debatable. :D
    azana and vit like this.
  16. vit

    vit El Sabroso de Conguero

    I hope it was evident from my post (first sentence in particular) I didn't suggest a solution but described a reality, as you nicely continued in the rest of your post

    As about dancing "on the toes", I've seen it in linear and circular salsa, kizomba, zouk, wcs and even local version of social ballroom standard. It doesn't have much connection with height of the heels, just that high heels make it less visible. Real problem is that people almost don't use their ankles to move (whether it's stepping over toes/ball to the whole foot in latin/afro-latin/african genres or rolling the foot in ballroom standard etc) because they are not taught to do it, they are taught just to step on the toes in latin/afro-latin/african genres to be "in style", so that's the result ...

    On BR latin competitions it's obligatory to use silicone heel protectors. However, "heels' speeds" on the comps are several times higher than in social dancing
  17. Offbeat

    Offbeat Maestro 'Fania' Pacheco

    As stated frequently in other threads, I go out of my way to dance with a lady wearing flats or jazz shoes. My natural assumption is they must be awesome dancers (which many times is true). The flip side is that not a good or fun dance with someone wearing jazz shoes is a disappointment to me :) May be because when I ask a lady wearing heels, I have no set expectations but when I notice someone in jazz my expectations/bias is that she is a good dancer.
    khabibul35 and SalsaGipsy like this.
  18. khabibul35

    khabibul35 Tumbao

    YES! That's kind of what I'm trying to say here. I like that you change the framing to express positive feelings on flats/jazz shoes as opposed to focusing on the negative feelings towards heels. But... I still maintain that both sides of the coin matter. :)
    Offbeat likes this.
  19. elanimal

    elanimal Nuevo Ritmo

    I'm not sure how heels sexualize women. I like girls shorter than me. As an average-height dude, heels don't do me many favors.

    manzanadulce likes this.
  20. khabibul35

    khabibul35 Tumbao

    This thread wasn't supposed to be about this, but let's be serious here, the modern dance floor is way sexed up - from glittery dresses and heels to the dips and pelvic body roles. Heels are a part of the sex appeal tool kit, both on and off the dance floor, because they push women's chests forwards and their derriers backwards. Men definitely find this appealing when they're talking to women, and when they get to touch them (as one does in dancing), I tend to think this is upped by several levels.

    I don't want to shame anyone for wanting to boost their sex appeal or finding female bodies attractive. Flirting and the prospect of sex are inherently intertwined into social dancing and I have no intention of trying to remove it. But we should be honest about it and discuss it - women do not magically become better dancers because they wear heels and the encouragement they get to wear heels comes does not come from the perspective of technique.

    My point in this thread was to try to break this myth. I maintain that all other things equal, the best dancers are actually the ones who can dance well without heels. Once you take the attention off of the chest and derriere, it's much easier to see the real pros by how they can move their hips and cores by using their natural connection to the ground rather than by having their bodies arched in a way that flatters their figures.
    Offbeat likes this.

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