All swing dancers need a good pair of dancing shoes (or 5) so here is a comprehensive list of all the best places to find them. Most Lindy Hoppers have their own opinion of what shoes are best for dancing in, whether it be a traditional raw leather sole, a chromed sole (suede) or a more grippy sneaker but ultimately is up to the individual to decide what works best for them.
It is nice however to own casual and formal dance shoes to suit all occasions. Sneakers don’t really cut it at a swing ball when you want to look your best just as a dress shoe can be ruined by outdoor flooring. Many of the shoes on this list are purpose-made for dancing. We hope this list helps you find the right pair for you.
Compiled by Michelle Turner
Good old Keds! They’ve been around since 1916 and are the staple dance shoe of swing dancers all over the globe. Keds are affordable, comfy and light and could be seen being worn by many original swing dancers back in the day. Keds come in a variety of colours (although the classic white shoe is the most versatile) and are available for both men and women. Yeah, you can get the $4 replicas from your local discount store but they will never last as long as a pair of Keds OR be as comfy. Mine lasted 10 years! Vans are another similar alternative and some styles come in a slip on shoe. If you buy your Keds or Vans from the states, try a friend’s pair on here to make sure your size is right.
Dancestore carry the very popular Aris Allen line of dance shoes. They are designed by swing dancers FOR swing dancers who saw the need for a shoe that was stylish, performance-oriented AND affordable. The soles on their Ked-like sneaker line are specially designed to let you feel the floor while being able to perform the maneuvers swing dancing requires without sticking. There is something to suit everyone and most of the dress shoes are based on original shoe designs from the 1930s and 40s and look great! Many Perth leads own a pair of white captoes. There are some Australian retailers of AA so check out their website.
During the 1990s Re-mix started visiting shoe factories with some of its original vintage shoes in tow, seeking a way to preserve the elegant styles of another era. They currently carry over 85 faithful reproductions of classic shoes from the 1910s to the early 1960s. Their shoes are not only popular among swing dancers but with vintage lifestyle enthusiasts, film-makers and stylish folks who love unique, comfortable shoes. Their ladies heeled shoes are especially popular amongst Balboa dancers. Pricey but good quality.
Men, if you want classic style on or off the dance floor you cannot go past a pair of Stacy Adams shoes. The company has been in business since 1875 and know how to make a great shoe! They ooze class and sophistication and from all accounts are great to dance in too. The Madison (and it’s boot equivalent) and the Concorde are dancers favorites and you will see quite a few people in the Perth swing scene wearing them. They also finish off a vintage or modern outfit beautifully. As Coco Chanel once said; “Fashion fades, only style remains the same”.
Charlie Stone shoes were brought to my attention when a few Perth dancers brought some back from Singapore. Originally created to accommodate vintage swing dancers, the ‘flat’ shoes are also made for every day wear. Offering the security, support and comfort of sneakers with the style of leather heels, these shoes take the best of both worlds, combining them to create a hybrid that complements any vintage or modern look. Lindy Hopper Jo Hoffberg says they are ‘Comfy as hell!’ as do many of the Perth Lindy Hoppers who wear them.
I had never heard of the this French brand of dance shoe until I bought a pair off someone who was selling them because they were too big. I have to say, they are THE most comfortable (of the more formal heeled, raw leather-soled swing dance shoes) that I have ever owned. So comfy and move well on the floor. I wish they had an outlet in Australia. Great low and medium heels for Balboa and Lindy with so many colours and styles and duo-colours too. Shoes for men and women.
Balboa Zin Shoes
Balboa Zin Shoes are based in Korea and make vintage styled, comfortable custom made shoes for swing dancers. They are made from high quality leather and materials and the customer chooses each design themselves. The heeled shoes are great for Balboa or Lindy Hop and there are some very glamorous styles and they have a range of saddle shoes and white dress shoes for men. They can be quite pricey but look great.
Saint Savoy designs are inspired by the swanky elegance of the 1920s, the buttoned-up rowdiness of the 1930s, the glorious 1940s, and all the way to the wildness of the boogie, jive, and rock ‘n’ roll in the 1950s. They use modern materials where it makes sense, for example, to protect from impact or form a softer footbed. Before going on the market the shoes were tested by experienced and endorsed by dancers such as Isabella Gregorio, Jo Hoffberg, Kevin St. Laurent and Pontus Persson.
Their lovely shoes have a wide toe box for greater comfort. They are also reinforced with a protective heel and toecap to prevent being hurt while you are dancing. Swingz are solidly constructed and well-fitting to help you keep balance when you dance, but also soft and comfortable inside to carefully protect your feet at all times. Custom made in Spain.
Other vintage style shoes
Miss L Fire