“What kind of tap dance shoes should I buy?”
“Are super budget tap dance shoes OK?”
“Is there a price point I should look at for tap dance shoes?”
“What style of tap dance shoe should I buy?”
“Where do I buy tap dance shoes?”
“What’s the best tap dance shoe?”
These are questions I get asked by a lot of people! I have students at CSU, Long Beach and Santa Monica College and at dance studios all over the world who want to know the answers to these questions. Even experienced tap dancers want to talk about what tap dance shoe is the best.
Spoiler alert: There is no best tap dance shoe because it is an extremely personal decision. (Some people like chocolate and some people like vanilla.)
What kind of tap dance shoes should I buy?
Option 1 – The Perfect World Scenario: In a perfect world, you want a decent quality shoe, oxford style, hard leather sole (not a floppy split-sole) that will feel comfortable and sound good. You can expect to pay somewhere between $55 and $80 for an entry level shoe in this category or as much as $300 to $450 for a pair of high end tap dance shoes.
Spoiler alert: Not every super expensive tap dance shoe is worth the money. (I always laugh at advertisements for the $5,000 handbag. What’s wrong with the $4,000 handbag? Is the $500 handbag really that horrible?)
Option 2 – The Real World Scenario: In the real world, you probably make your decision largely based on cost. My university students don’t have a lot of money and other students might not want to invest in an expensive shoe if they are just giving tap dance a try to see if they like it. Fair enough, I say. I play jazz guitar and my first guitar was a piece of junk from a pawn shop. Now I have two nice guitars!
The benefits of a quality tap dance shoe are that it will feel comfortable, last reasonably long and sound good.
The benefit of the cheap, budget tap dance shoe is that you don’t have a lot of financial skin in the game to give tap dancing a try.
Where do I buy tap dance shoes?
Buy tap dance shoes in a dance supply store, theatrical supply store or online.
For super cheap tap dance shoes:
Your first stop should be to check out a discount dance supply store near you that is maybe blowing out tap shoes for $10 or $20. Walmart, believe it or not, often has cheap tap shoes and even a reputable brand like Capezio offers a style around $35 that you could find online.
For decent lower cost tap dance shoes:
For a decent quality shoe with a hard leather sole at an entry level price point of around $60 to $80, almost every brand has their version of it. Try searching for Bloch, Capezio, Danshuz, So Dança. There are other brands but these can help you begin your search.
For medium price point tap dance shoes:
For nicer leather and better construction and comfort at a medium price point of somewhere around $100 to $200, again, almost every brand has versions of those, too. Try searching for Bloch, Capezio, Danshuz, So Dança. There are other brands but these can help you begin your search.
For high end tap dance shoes:
If you want to go high end ($200 to $500) and even have the ability to customize the shoe for insoles or orthotics or pick your own custom color, you could try Capezio, Miller & Ben, Rubén Sánchez Dance Wear. Again, there are other brands but these can help you begin your search.
And here are two more things that come up when people ask about buying tap dance shoes:
“How should my shoes feel?”
Don’t believe the salesperson who says “It’s normal for your toes to feel like they are in a vice.” It’s tap dancing, everyone, and not the Spanish Inquisition. If a shoe isn’t relatively comfortable in the store it probably never will be, just like when you buy street shoes.
“Should I buy tap dance shoes with heels?”
I tell my students that flat, oxford style shoes will most likely feel better and sound better than heels but if they are a female in the musical theater world, it could be good for them to get comfortable dancing in a character shoe. After all, if you do a production of a classic old musical like “No, No, Nanette” or “42nd Street” or “Anything Goes” the women will almost certainly be costumed in heels for the tap sequences.
The bottom line about buying tap dance shoes:
Just as a professional musician will try a few different models of an instrument before they decide what is best for them, tap shoes require a bit of experimentation over time which is a little bit frustrating because it can get expensive to experiment! I myself have a few pairs of shoes in my closet that I acquired and tried and said, “This one is OK but it just isn’t for me.”
In the end, I tell my students to buy what they are comfortable buying which usually means a discussion based on price. The more and more into tap you get you will keep on trading up on quality and you will eventually arrive at the more high end shoes. It’s almost inevitable if you become passionate about tap dancing. So start practicing and start saving your money!
I hope this answers some of your questions about tap dance shoes! Feel free to ask a question or leave a comment.
Now it’s time to learn how to tap dance!
Once you have shoes, how about coming to learn tap dance online with me? I’ve taught and performed all over the world for decades, have danced with the best of the best and trained countless tap dancers, tap dance teachers and dance studio owners.
Please check out www.TapAcademyOnline.com to learn how to tap dance online with high-quality technique, exercises, choreography, music theory, improvisation and more!