"I have had a lot of questions regarding heels from my students, so I have put together some of my thoughts to share with everyone. Pole dance has a lot of different styles and these tips are just my preference and opinions." Kat Kelly
Why wear heels?
Heels make you stand up taller with your shoulders back, legs and core engaged. They make your legs look longer because you need to sink your weight in to your hips more when you walk. All the above are the foundations of exotic movement. ....Plus, they make you feel amazing!
What size should I buy?
Most platform heels come in 4, 6, 8, 9 and 10 inches. The arch of the foot doesn’t change, just the height of the heel. So, you will always feel like you are on your tiptoes by the same amount, you will just be higher off the floor.
The downside of the height is that it is further to go to touch the floor from standing – but flexibility and certain floor work moves can get around that. The upside is that having a larger ‘box’ – the platform part of the heel not the stiletto – is that you can come up on your toes for more range of motion in your hips, nice footwork, toes drags, glides and pivots, pretty lines, greater ankle strength and longer looking legs 😉
They also weigh more the bigger they are so you tone your legs too with beautiful ankle weights. My personal favourite height is 8 inches. I wouldn’t start there though. I would choose either 4 inches or 6 inches – I would jump in at the deep end and go for 6’s because there isn’t that much difference in height and the 6 inches have more of a box for that fancy foot work and of course – heel clacks!
Personally, I always buy pleasers in my normal shoes size but that is because I am bang on a size 5. If you find you are a half size e.g. 6 ½ I would go down to a 6 rather than up to a 7. You don’t want the toe part of your shoes to be too big or your foot will move around too much. The straps may be tight, but you can wear thick socks to break them in or heat them with a hair dryer to expand the plastic a bit! They will stretch out over time.
What style of shoe?
There are two main types of strap - plastic or fabric.
All dance shoes will break and stretch out and get scuffed eventually. Remember this! Like all hobbies, shoes are an expense and extra equipment that you will need to look after or replace.
All those clacks and toe drags wear your shoes down over time. Broken straps are very common. Personally, I prefer the thicker plastic straps over the fabric ones. They give my ankle more support and give that seamless look from leg to foot to shoe. However, the thinner plastic ones look lovely and you will have to work for greater ankle control, which is always a positive.
Ultimately, pick a pair you absolutely love because the better you feel the better you will dance.
What about boots?
Shoes and boots have their own pros and cons. Both look fabulous and feel great on. Here are some of my thoughts on boots:
- Ankle boots provide a great deal of ankle support. This can be a good thing and a bad thing.
- Thigh high boots look fab and if you get PVC you get some back of the knee grip- great for climbing and leg hangs.
- Shinny plastic boots can stick to the floor a bit during floorwork but matte doesn’t give you grip when climbing. You will have to work a bit harder either way!
- Boots give a completely different look and style than heels, great for different dance styles.
My preference is to have a pair of both and train in both. It means you use different muscles and train your ankles in different ways. It affects my movement style, but I enjoy both. For your first pair, I would recommend shoes, then get some boots once you are used to the height and footwork.
I have never been able to walk in heels!
It is tricky at first. But you can train for it just like all other aspects of pole dance. Trust me, we have all fallen over or wobbled around like Bambi at some stage. With practice it becomes second nature.
If you are interested though, exotic dance classes can teach you how to:
- Walk with and without the pole in heels
- How to use the different parts of your shoes
- How to do fancy footwork and heel clacks
- How to stretch and strengthen your ankles
- How to utilise your heels as a tool for sensual movement
Do I have to wear heels to do exotic dance?
No. It is really fun to wear them and is a huge part of exotic dance but it is not essential. Feeling good about yourself and enjoying class is more important. Pointing your toes and dancing on your tip toes can give similar results.
Do I have to buy ‘Pleasers’?
No, but I recommend it. They are the lead retailer for these shoes for good reason. They are comfortable with padding for the balls of the feet and they have lots of different styles and heights and are overall good quality and safe. There are some other retailers who make good quality heels and I know students who have bought platform heels on sites like wish.com. As a first pair that you train in and don’t mind scuffing up, perhaps this is OK.
Resources and links:
Places to buy heels:
Other accessories to look in to:
- Shoe/boot box protectors
- Replacement/detachable pleaser straps
- Heel shapers
- Knee pads
- Thigh high socks
- Sexy straps/body harnesses/garters etc
- Pole wear