Argentine tango shoes
New tangueros (dancers of Argentine tango) often have lots of questions about shoes, and it can be a bit confusing, because people often confuse Argentine tango with ballroom tango. Argentine tango is not the same as ballroom (or English, American, or International) tango, and we wear different kinds of shoes.
Firstly, if you're a beginner, don't worry too much about shoes. The important thing for beginners is to wear shoes that are comfortable, and that you can pivot in - tango involves a lot of pivoting on the ball of your foot, and if your shoes stick to the floor, you'll hurt your knees. So avoid rubber soles! Leather or suede soles are best, failing that, hard plastic soles will often do for beginners. Women may find they're more comfortable with a bit of a heel, but flats are fine too when you're just learning.
When you've danced for a while and know you want to continue, then a pair of proper tango shoes is a good investment. Don't buy generic dance shoes - they tend to be either too flimsy or too rigid, depending on style. Here are some of the best brands for Argentine tango shoes:
Comme Il Faut The Manolo Blahniks of the tango world. Not cheap, but totally worth it, in my opinion. They're strong but flexible, and always beautiful. They come in a range of exotic styles, and have a distinctive stiletto heel. Only for women.There's no website, but see below for current Comme Il Faut listings on eBay - and below that, a nice video of Comme Il Fauts in action!
Neotango flash site | e-commerce site About the same price as Commes, also beautiful but often a bit more restrained in style. They tend to be softer than Commes, so they need less breaking in, but don't last as long. They also do a good range of men's shoes, and some dance sneakers, which are useful for practicing or for changing into at the end of a long evening.
Tango Brujo flash brochure site The new kids on the block, and set to be a big name. Said to be very comfy. Men's, women's and dance sneakers.
Darcos e-commerce site Darcos have a big shop in Buenos Aires which sells music and tango wear.They brand themselves as 'magic shoes', and have a more padded sole than other brands. Men's, women's, and dance sneakers.
All of these companies are based in Argentina, of course, which can make life tricky for American and European dancers. Comme Il Faut have local suppliers in many areas, and Neotango and Tango Brujo have some too. Darcos and NeoTango can be bought on the internet.
If you are buying shoes on the internet, a good tip is to fax them a drawing of your foot so they can check for your right size.They're usually very helpful.
For more information on shopping for tango shoes and the differences between brands, have a look at the tango shoe guide website.