It is no secret that tap dancers grow very fond of their tap shoes. With the high level of aesthetic customization that exists today, it is easy to attribute fond memories with a particular pair of tap shoes.
I loved my blue Capezio K360s. I kept them around for over two years. When the lateral side, or outer edge, of my feet started to ache, I figured I must have landed wrong during a difficult step. When they got really sore, I thought that I must have been doing something chronically wrong. When sharp, electric jolts of pain kept me from dancing, I realized I had been doing something wrong. I needed new shoes.
Three days after receiving my new pair of shoes, my pains from the previous six months had disappeared. If I were to put on my old blue shoes, the pain would come back. I had learned my lesson the hard way.
A new pair of tap shoes are not only important for correcting current problems, but are necessary in preventing a smorgasbord of potentially painful ailments.
Signs of tap shoe deterioration include:
- Tearing of the leather where it is attached to the sole.
- Leather of the foot housing has become extremely soft.
- Increased sole bend.
- Sole and/or heel separation from the shoe.
- Diminished sound quality.
- Insole lining (cushion) has become very compressed.
- Eating away of inside materials due to bacteria
Shoe life can be prolonged by regular maintenance. Care includes:
- Clean and moisten the shoe leather with a wax shoe polish and leather cleaner.
- Store shoes in a place with low humidity.
- Wear socks when dancing to inhibit bacterial growth.
- Insert a wooden shoetree when not dancing to help the shoe keep its shape and to absorb moisture. (I prefer red cedar.)
- Air them out.
- Expose the shoes to sunlight to kill bacteria without chemicals.
A dancer may wish to refurbish a pair of shoes for a number of reasons. Sentimentality, financial circumstances, and a light dance schedule are all valid arguments for refurbishment, but it is unwise to leave such specialized work to a standard cobbler. Tap shoes should be interested to the care of the company from which they were purchased, or outside parties with specialized training focused on tap shoes.
A used pair will never regain the level of support and manageability of a new pair, and after seeing the price tag that comes with major refurbishment, a new pair of shoes could save time and prevent traumatic injury for a small additional cost.
Want to be an informed customer when you buy tap shoes?
Check out the previous article in this series: Deconstructing a Tap Shoe
Seeking Your Customized Shoes!
Do you have customized tap shoes (old or new) that you just love? Share them with us. Send pictures and/or a short paragraph that details your custom work to Nichelle:
Your shoes may be featured in Tristan’s upcoming Great Tap Shoeganza post on shoe customization!