Customizing Your Tap Shoes: The Taps

Confessions of a Tap Geek

I am dismayed at the lack of information available for taps.  Sure, they are just hunks of metal, but they are hunks that completely reshaped an art form.  I continually find misinformation when searching the internet, and it appears that everyone who writes about taps has cut and pasted from the same unreliable source.  For example:

“Generally, three different types of tap shoes are available: teletone, duotone and supertone.” -About.com

This is not true.  Teletone and Duotone are trademarked brand names of Capezio and are not universally regarded as a type of tap, and Supertone has been applied to a number of taps from a couple different companies.  To say that these are the only types of taps available is like saying all shoes are classified as either Jordan’s,  Air Jordan’s, or Limited Edition Jordan’s.  The worst part is that you can more or less find this EXACT SAME SENTENCE on numerous websites.

But let’s face it: the most interesting part of a tap shoe is the taps.  As a kid I put flat tacks on the bottom of my sneakers because even before my first tap class I knew that it was the sound that gave tap dance its novelty.  The Great Tap Shoeganza wouldn’t be complete without focusing on the tap dancer’s most versatile tool.

Before The Taps

A tap dancer does not need metal taps to produce great percussive art.  By flipping through Marshall and Jean Sterns’ Jazz Dance, which is considered by many to be the tap dancer’s bible, I can’t find mention of the art form being called “Tap” until the beginning of the 20th century.  Until then it was jigging, or vernacular dance, or Buck and Wing dancing, or step dancing.  Wood not being available to everyone, these dances were performed in dirt, on sand, and later developed on concrete street corners.

The shoes that were used had soles of leather or were fashioned with wooden plates.  In many instances, the would-be African pioneers of the art form used bare feet.  Did they have a choice in the matter?  I don’t know.  I do know that I am grateful everyday for the spirit that kept them dancing.

Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, as stated in Vallis-Hill’s Tap Dancing America, wore “split-soled clog shoes, an American adaptation of the solid wooden clogs from the Lancashire and Lakeland regions of England.”  The shoes had an attached half-sole made of wood that was “left loose, allowing for greater flexibility and tonality.”

That extra something…

Without the taps, a tap shoe is just a shoe.  The addition of metal taps is that rare phenomenon; what began as a concept was agreed upon by many and has evolved into a tool as useful and versatile as any at an artist’s employ.  What was a fad is now an era.  Make no mistake, many tap dancers are just as finicky with their taps as they are with every other aspect of the dance.

Now That You Have The Tap, Where Do You Put It?

I personally struggle with the placement of my taps.  I prefer that the tap covers as much of the edge of the toe as possible, maybe even stick out a little.  But not all taps are large enough for my wide feet.  Sometimes I have to move it up and to the left or the right, depending on the sole of the shoe.  Of course, many of my peers aren’t as compulsive when it comes to tap placement, but, as with the dance itself, it is a labor of love.

If I don’t have enough metal on the lateral side (outer edge) of the front of my shoe, my pinky toes get really sore after practicing wings.  Also, small taps make those satisfying notes you get from striking the taps against each other more elusive.  Wide or narrow, long or short, the dimensions of your foot will affect the type of tap you buy and where you place it.

You have to play around.  There are so many tap-to-shoe variations that it is absolutely possible to be physically and harmonically satisfied with your tap shoes.

Like a Fingerprint…

The taps produced by today’s leading manufacturers are distinctive from one another.  Most of the companies that produce tap shoes also produce the tap that comes with it, and each tap has a personality all its own.

Capezio’s Tele-Tone taps are moderate in both weight and tone.

Leo’s Ultratone toe tap is thicker and fills out the edge of the shoe more, but is a little clunky.

SoDanca’s taps are slightly convex and produce a bright upper-register tone, though their edges are so sharp that your shoes may treat your floor like a grater treats a block of Wisconsin cheddar.

Consider your style.  Do you prefer lighter, tinier sounding taps, or a deeper, warmer tone?  Do you dance more flat-footed, or do you get up on your toes?  Have you ever cracked a tap before?  Matching your particular needs with the perfect tap and shoe combination is a great pastime for amateurs and an essential aide for professionals.

Got a Screw Loose?

Loose taps can drive you crazy, and I remember having to tighten my taps every five minutes when I was a kid.  If only someone had showed me all of the options available for keeping the taps from falling off my shoes.  No more!

Fix’em Yourself – Here is a way to make stripped screws like (almost) new.  All you need are a book of matches and some wood glue.  Take a small sliver of pulpy wood product, like the end of a match stick, and dip it in some wood glue.  Be careful that your wood sliver is neither too fat nor too long for the screw hole.  Insert it into the stripped hole and replace the original screw.  The additional wood pulp will make new threads for the screw to latch onto and the wood glue bonds the new threads to the shoe.

I’ve been doing this since I was a kid, and I asked my consultant, Matthew Schroepfer from Dancing Fain Inc., if this is still an acceptable procedure to fix loose screws.  He confirmed that it is, though not before warning about using super glue or other adhesive products.  “Other types of glue become rigid when they dry and will crack.  Wood glue never completely dries, and it stays malleable enough to flex with the screw.”

Capezio TeleTone taps with nails and soundboards

Soundboard – A soundboard is a thin, fiberboard that helps keep the metal attached to the sole.  When the taps get loose the threads on the screws will catch and become retained in the fiberboard.  There is a slight tonal shift produced by having your taps pressed against the fiberboard, but in my experience it is not very dramatic.  Why is it called a soundboard if it doesn’t really affect the sound?  I guess “supplementary affixation pad” just didn’t sell as well.

How many screws? – By now most tap dancers and shoe companies have agreed on the three screw tap, now the standard for taps.  However, there are taps available that could have as many as five, six, or even eight screw holes, or as few as one.  More screws equals a better attached tap, and less screws means, well, less screws to deal with.

Screws, who needs ‘em? – Glue them on!  That’s right, you can have the taps glued on with a good adhesive to insure that they stay in place.  This will cause some tonal shift, perhaps more than the soundboard will, but if that doesn’t bother you, then just think of the peace of mind that comes with taps that will stay just how you like them… always

Photo courtesy of Shinichi Matsumoto

TAPology

Ask car geeks about their cars, and there is no nook or cranny that has not been analyzed.  They can tell you the year, make, model, country of origin, sculptor who designed the exterior, the type of welds used to secure the frame, which engine he chose and why.  The same goes for enthusiasts of guitars, comic books, foodies, technophiles…  So why not tap dance?

Who designed the taps used by hundreds of thousands around the world?  What are the differences in tone for the various brands?  Even finding the right size tap for your shoe can be a frustrating process!  (Size 00?)  I’m interested to learn all I can about this wonderful instrument, and I’m betting that there are others out there like me.  Stay tuned.

Did this deeper look into the ‘tap’ make you think differently about your shoes or how you use them?

What is your tap of choice?

Tristan Bruns
Tristan Bruns has studied the art form of tap dance with Donna Johnson, Ted Levy, Lane Alexander and Martin "Tre" Dumas and has a BA in Music from Columbia College Chicago. Tristan has been an ensemble member of such Chicago tap companies as BAM!, The Cartier Collective and MADD Rhythms. Tristan currently produces his own work through his company, TapMan Productions, LLC, which includes the performance ensemble The Tapmen and the tap and guitar "band" of The Condescending Heroes.

Comments

  1. Great article about such an important and (seemingly) disregarded part of our instrument. I want a sequel to this with updates from tappers around the world (I’m particularly inspired by the tap with Japanese on it!).
    Keep it up Tristan and keep the dance alive!

  2. Great article!!!! Check out these black taps: http://www.pro-tones.com

    • I’m all for more taps!

      I occasionally like to glue down my taps and I’m interested to see if the anodization of the taps gives better adhesion with adhesives or not.

      -T

    • While dancing your high heel shoe is more comfortable for a lot of female dancers you find that if you switch to oxford style shoe with not so high a heel, will give you a much more thick and rich tone. The other thing you might what to try with character shoes is to remove the sound board and get a wider ball tap. This will also get you a better sound.

      While most taps on the market are made from aluminum, they are not all equal in quality. Capezio Tele-Tone’s have a great sound and there another made from forged anodized forged steel that I just found and really like. http://www.pro-tones.com they have a tap fit chart you can open and print off. It will show you how large a tap you can fit to your shoe.

      The other thing that changing to a oxford style shoe does for you it always to put more emphasis into your technique that character shoes don’t always allow.

      Hope this helps! Keep Tapping!!

  3. HELP!! My favorite pair of tap shoes is an old pair of capezio gold series spectators. The taps are oversized and single screw. I can’t find single screw taps anywhere. The toe taps are worn down to razor blades and cracked, I need to find replacement taps! I don’t want to have to retire my shoes. They’re bigger than a size one tap and the number inside the tap is RT 750. If anybody can help me, I’ll love you forever!

    • Dear Riley S,

      Hmmm, discontinued single screw taps. It can be difficult to find discontinued taps.

      Have you contacted Capezio directly? Their customer service is decent and if there are any matching taps laying around, I’m sure that they can find them. You can call them at (973) 595-9000 x6203 or email them through their website. They will probably ask you to send the shoes to their factory where they can fix’em up with the correct (and hopefully available) taps at a very reasonable price.

      The other option is to use three screw taps like the Leo’s Ultratone or Capezio Teletone. The shoes can be re-tapped and in a jiffy can be done at a local cobbler or by sending them to a specialty shop like Dancing Fair in Minneapolis, MN. Shipping is cheap and new taps cost approx. $15 with another reasonable charge to put them on. Contact Matt at info@dancingfair.com and re-post your question in the email.

      Trust me, Matt is the guy the professionals go to and he can do just about anything you need to a pair of tap shoes. I understand your frustration with discontinued taps and it seems something is always getting discontinued right when I need it. For example, they switched to bigger screws than the ones they have been using in many tap shoes making my fancy Leo’s screwdrivers that I bought obsolete. Que sera.

      Good luck,
      Tristan

  4. I just came across your site and it is great! I have searched a while for places that will make custom taps or taps out of different metals. I noticed it was discussed on your “Customizing Your Tap Shoes: The Taps” page. Unfortunately all I have ever found is the traditional (and available) aluminum alloy…do you know of any
    places that either already sell them or that will
    make them? Thanks & keep up the excellent site!

    • Kim-

      Thanks for reading and posting a comment. Regarding different metal alloys and taps, right now aluminum is pretty much all that you are going to find. Steel, copper…all metal prices are high right now and aluminum is so much cheaper and easier to manage.

      However, you can contact metal working companies, like those that manufacture nuts, bolts, car parts, etc., and request a custom mold be made with which to cast your own tap shoes out of your metal of choice. This will cost an exorbitant amount of money, however.

      Another option is to do it yourself and there are several helpful books and websites that teach you how to create your own mold and how to cast your own metal products. This will be extremely dangerous for the beginner, however.

      You could take a look at the taps mentioned in the post above, which have an anondized layer, a process that increases the level of oxidation around the aluminum thus making it a little more durable and more resistant to corrosives among other things, covering the aluminum taps, though it is just a coating and will rub off after a while. That’s probably the closest you can get, though they are still much more expensive than regular taps at $60 for a set compared to standard taps that will cost roughly $13 a set.

      As of right now your options are either expensive or dangerous, as tap grows in popularity and demands for new products grows, hopefully the market will accommodate. I believe that this discussion is the first step.

  5. I have heard that there is somthing that you can paint on the taps to stop the oxidation and dirty floors. Any answers?

    • Sharon,

      Absolutely I have answers!

      First off, oxidation is not the problem. In fact, oxidation is a good thing for your taps. All aluminum naturally has a layer of oxygen surrounding the metal to prevent contact with corrosive chemicals found on the ground, in the air, and on your fingertips. This is called pacification. When aluminum loses that pacified layer it starts to deteriorate. For a good example, check some of your oldest pots for pits and splotches that resemble spilt gasoline. Buy some Barkeepers Friend scrubbing agent from the supermarket and scrub that splotchy layer off and allow the metal to re-pacify and you have a pot as good as new!

      But I digress…

      There is a product by Stagestep called TapShield and it is designed to protect floors from aluminum compound residue, or the dust that accumulates from the constant grinding of the taps on the floor. I had a postcard for TapShield in my inbox at a studio I teach in for some time, though I have never felt the need to order any. From what I understand, you “paint” a couple of layers on and let it dry overnight. The idea is to form a protective layer over the tap to keep the deterioration of the metal to a minimum, thus reducing the aluminum residue that makes dirty floors. The same company also produces a product called TapArmor, which is another topical solution meant to be applied directly to the dance floor.

      Here’s the thing… I’m not convinced that aluminum residue is what is making floors so dirty. It takes me quite a while to wear down a tap and believe me, I’m in my shoes a lot. A floor that rarely gets cleaned is full of dust already and the grinding of the taps on the floor compounds the dust into larger chunks of debris which can be confused for something other than average dust. Also, in my experience the majority of scuff marks are caused by the leather soles of the tap shoes which are painted or dyed black. A non-colored leather sole like those found on many white colored tap shoes leaves no such marks.

      Also, the surface of the floor makes a big difference. Marley flooring is sticky and not ideal for tap dance and, if not regularly mopped, will be full of flat dirt cakes after a month of tap dancing. Tile, fiberglass, and similar surfaces (which I would not recommend for tap dance) are usually colored themselves, and often the scuffs you see are the result of the flooring’s coloring being scraped off to reveal the natural color of the material underneath. Wood is your best bet and will stay cleaner than the marley with a good sweeping once a week.

      As I have never tried TapShield or Tap Armor I can not NOT recommend either products, but, hey, what have you got to lose? The tried and true method remains the best – compulsively sweep and mop marley and have wood floors swept regularly and professionally cleaned, re-sanded and finished every 3-5 years or so.

      Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some pots to scrub.

      -Tristan

      • That dirty tap floor isn’t really dirt, it’s oxidized metal filings. Nearly all prefinished flooring and even the finishes you apply yourself (Polyurathane, Varathane..) now use aluminum oxide as an ingredient to make the finish more durable. The problem is that when the metal in your tap shoe comes in contact with the metal in the floor finish you get problems. You are rubbing metal against metal and you’re basically filing down your taps and your floor finish and the resulting black powder is oxided aluminum filings, which creates a big mess and wears down taps really quickly. It’s a pretty new problem, and it’s nearly impossible to get around if the floor you”re tapping on has any kind of clear coating on it. also, I have tried TapSheild, but found that it wears off in one session :(

  6. Thanks Tristan,
    I wish everyone was on the ball like you. I have never had such a quick and thorough response.
    I will get the wood floors refinished. Sounds like that is the problem.
    Thanks again,
    Sharon

  7. I have a very, very, VERY old pair of what I think are split clog tap shoes. They have a leather upper, wooden bottom, and nails as ”taps”… Any idea what they are or when they are from?
    It would be really helpful if you could help me!!! Pic available upon request…
    Thanks!!!

    • Jen,

      I have emailed a couple people about some shoe inquiries and have not yet received a response. Could I get the picture? My email is Tapman16@aol.com. That way I can do my own research, without having to rely on others, and get back to you.

      I vow to leave no question unanswered!

      -T

  8. Ash Denerra says:

    Hey Tristan,

    I’m on the hunt for new tap shoes and I’m looking for a place to get them built up here in Chicago… any recommendations for a shop preferably on the Southside of Chicago?

    • Ash,

      I did my own searching and when I couldn’t find anything I asked the Director of MADD Rhythms, a tap company that primarily works on the south side of Chicago, if he knew of any. He said, “not to my knowledge!” So, I am sorry to report that the chances of finding a competent tap shoe repair/modification shop on the south side are slim.

      However, I can turn you on to a couple places that I would trust with my shoes. Bril suggested Beehive shoeworks on 35 North wells. They offer specialized tap shoe repair. Bril says to ask for Marilyn.

      A place that I have gone to several times is Broadway Shoe Repair at 3171 N. Broadway. While a little farther from the south side, I have personally taken my shoes here several times and the owner, Dan Kanellos, is always friendly, helpful always charges me fairly. He not only does work for me, but he has done work for other dances like Lane Alexander and members of the Chicago Human Rhythm Projects’ tap ensemble, BAM.

      It really is a shame that there is no comparable shoe shop on the south side, but these are two reputable, time tested, somewhat-local-to-you businesses that should be able to take care of you satisfactorily.

      -T

  9. Hi, I really need your help. I have a pair of tap shoes that I bought last year, but the sound of the taps is really annoying, it is like the sound of a hammer. The brand is Kings. Do you know what can I do? I want a more lighter… I can’t buy new pair of them, or order new taps, is there something I can do on my own?

    Thanks

    • Tristan Bruns says:

      Kim-

      Sorry to hear about your tonal troubles. I have never heard of Kings tap shoes and I can’t find anything on the internet or in the books that I own. If you have any information on this brand I would appreciate a follow up post, if you don’t mind.

      As for changing the sound of your taps, you could try loosening the screws a very, very little bit. Usually the taps have recessed screw inlets and as long as the screw heads stay below the top line of the tap, then you shouldn’t have a problem. I know several people who keeps their taps a little loose because they enjoy the sound better than tight taps.

      Or have a soundboard attached under the taps. A soundboard is a thin strip of fiber board that is easily nailed to the sole and will alter the pitch of the taps a little bit. For a higher pitch, replace the fiber soundboard with a metal one, but cutting the metal in to the right shape goes beyond the know-how of the average do-it-yourselfer.

      Of course, these suggestions get progressively more difficult to do on your own. Without being able to change taps there aren’t many options. However, I’m happy to hear that you are listening to the sound of your taps AT ALL! An unfortunate downside of tap dance is that you may have to go through several pairs of shoe and tap combinations before you find something you like, but think of guitarists, or car enthusiasts. You might have to wear out those shoes the old fashioned way just to justify a new pair.

      Loosen those taps and then post an update. If anyone has any tips or tricks that they would like to share, please…post away!

      -T

  10. Hi, I have a pair of tap shoes with the teletone jr taps and Id like to upgrade to teletone taps. however i havent bought them yet because i dont know how to change the taps and what size to choose. Can you give me instructions on how to change taps?
    thank you so much for you article
    Mi

    • Mi,

      I’m afraid that I have some bad news.

      The Capezio Teletone Jr. is a riveted tap, which means that the particular shoe that you are wearing is not built for taps with screws. The best you could do would be to take the shoes to a local cobbler and have him glue on some new taps.

      If you are ready to upgrade the taps, then I suggest that you just upgrade the shoe. After the $13-16 for new taps and another $5-10 for a cobbler’s service, you may as well just buy the next level shoe, which should run between $30-50.

      For a decent intermediate level shoe, may I suggest Revolution brand tap shoes. I have had several students pick up a pair and not only did they consider them comparable to the Capezio or So Danca shoes of the same level, but Revolution usually runs $10-15 cheaper.

      The good news is that you are tapping enough to warrant a shoe upgrade. GET IT IN!

      -T

  11. After reading your article you obviously know what you are talking about so I am hoping you can help. I will try to keep my long and very frustrating situation short. I’ll provide the back story then my questions.

    I bought the capezio character tap shoes with the teletone taps and the shoes have the black no skid sole piece. It appears that all tap shoes pretty much come with this no skid sole attachment now, which 15 years ago tap shoes did not have. I nearly broke my ankle doing wings in class because of the no skid sole catching on the floor and it prevented me from making a tap sound at the toe on my left shoe. I took the shoes to a cobbler who removed the no skid sole. This destroyed the integrity of the shoes and now causes me really bad pain.

    I went to a different dance store who claimed full expertise and I bought character shoes and taps separately and took them to a shoes cobbler (they recommended) to be put on. I also fully explained to the dance store my situation with the original shoes. I get the shoes back and it’s the same taps on the shoes I had already ruined. Please note that I had taken the taps out of the box before purchasing and they did appear to be thinner then the ones I already had. I put on the new tap shoes and I can distinctively feel were the tap ends on the toe piece, even more so then the original shoes that I purchased after I had them altered. I know these shoes are going to cause me pain and because the taps have been put on they cannot be returned.

    So here are my questions:
    Can I salvage the shoes by have the teletones replaced with super tones. After some serious recollection I’m pretty sure my tap shoes 12 years ago had the super tones which are thick at the toe and taper off to provide a smoother transition from tap to the sole?

    Is there something I can do to the shoes to make the sole service somewhat more even with the tap with out adding a no skid piece?

    Or do you know of any other solutions? I really don’t want to have to buy a third pair of taps shoes in less then 5 months.

    • Elizabeth,

      “Is there something I can do to the shoes to make the sole service somewhat more even with the tap with out adding a no skid piece?”

      There are many other tap dancers with the same demands and there is such a product. It is easy to have attached and does not cost a lot of money. That product is…

      The Metbar!

      Short for metatarsal bar, the metbar is a thick strip of leather that is glued down right under the tap to a) give support to the metatarsals (balls of the foot), and b) to maintain the natural level of friction of leather on wood (or marley, painted stage, etc.).

      I’ve discussed the metbar in Customizing Your Tap Shoes: Health and Comfort and you can see what it looks like on the bottom of my friend Nico Rubio’s tap shoes in the video at the bottom of my Capezio K360 review.

      I’ve never had one put on as I have all of my tap shoe work done through Matt Schroepfer at Dancing Fair (dancingfair.com). I mention Matt and the company often in my posts, but only because they can do anything for tap sDancing Fair really is the definitive place for tap shoe customization. Matt is also the one who turned me on to the metbar in the first place.

      As for taps, you may just need to try out a bunch, which kinda stinks since it takes so much time, effort and money. The Leo’s Ultratone is thicker than Capezio’s Teletone and comes down a little further, and Bloch makes a super big tap nowadays. Another thing to consider is the position of the tap as you can have it mounted back a little further.

      I think that the metbar is EXACTLY what you are looking for and while you could inquire at the local cobbler, my recommendation would be Dancing Fair to eliminate the back and forth/trial and error of tap shoe modification.

      • Thanks for the recommendation. The shoes I just got have not been danced in. Is it possible to have the Capezio teletones replaced with Super Tones and keep the shoes I just bought or should I just look into getting the metbar as my best bet for now?

        • I think that you will love the metbar. It really does give great support for the ball of the foot and provides a smooth, level transition from the end of the tap to the arch of the foot.

          As for SuperTones, I know that Leo’s did produce a SuperTone tap for some of their shoes, but I have never personally seen one, though I have found some discontinued tap shoes online that have the Leo’s SuperTone attached. I don’t think that they even make them anymore, but I have been surprised in the past. You can contact Leo’s, who has pretty decent customer service (leosdancewear.com – phone, email, fax), to see if they have some lying around.

          If they do then I want a pair, too!

          • I found E.B Smith Super toe taps, which was the closest thing I could find to the SuperTones I had 15 years ago. I found the taps on a discount dance store online called Baums in Philadelphia, PA. Since I live right across the Delaware River from Philly, I hopped a train to check out the actual store. The Super taps are online, but in the store they also have the Capezio Master taps, which I had never seen before and I like even better.

            A cobbler was able to replace the teletones with the master taps, so I didn’t have to buy new shoes. The cobbler must have been in his 80′s and asked me why I chose them and where did I get them because he couldn’t remember the last time he had seen them. He told me that if I liked them, I should go back and pick up a couple pair of the taps just in case anything ever happened to my shoes.

            The stores website is http://www.baumsdancewear.com
            like I said the master taps aren’t online, but I believe they are in their catalog. Their catalogs are free for dance instructors and studio owners.

            Thanks for all of you help and the quick replies.

            • Tristan Bruns says:

              I am familiar with E.B. Smith and I forgot about their Super taps. I actually have E.B. Smith’s H8 heel tap on all my shoes. Just like you said, it is difficult to find these taps just by a simple google search. I like their heel tap because it is rounder and not sharp like other heel taps so I can do more stuff with the edge of my heels.

              I’m glad that you found the tap that is right for you and it is this type of consumer research and trial and error that has spawned the growth and innovation of the modern tap shoe.

              If you ever get the metbar please post again and let us know how you like it. Ditto for the new taps.

          • UPDATE: There is a Super Tone tap on the market. Produced by W.B. Smith, these taps are an interesting find. They are shaped like traditional taps of the 1960s up to the 1980s. The toes is a wing shape, where taps today are generally filled in at the bottom giving them a “petal” shape, and the heel is round on the back, opposed to sharp and cornered like taps made today.

            These taps are interesting. I see them on cheaper tap shoes since the taps themselves are cheaper than the average tap you find nowadays, but I also know professional tap dancers, myself included, who custom order the taps, in particular the thick, fat heel with the rounded edge, for versatility.

            Try looking these up online and there is practically no information on them. I still can’t find information on the company or a website, which in this day and age is kind of weird (my students have their own websites for goodness sakes). Anyways, Super Taps by W.B. Smith if you want that vintage look and functionality.

            -Tristan

  12. Hi, I am from Australia and have just returned from NYC where I have been dancing for the last 4 months. While over there I purchased 2 pairs of custom made tap shoes which I absolutely love. There is a slight problem however:

    The shoes came fitted with Capezio Tele Tone taps, which is fine, however the floors over in the States are much different to those here in Australia and so I prefer to loosen my taps a little to get the right sound. Whenever I get new taps shoes I like to where them for a week or two and let them loosen up themselves, and then tweak them to a preferred sound with a screwdriver.

    So – there I am with the screwdriver last night not having much luck, only to notice the taps have been glued on!! I have never purchased a pair of tap shoes which were glued and didn’t allow me to adjust the sound. What can I do? They sound awful, but they were so expensive and I don’t want to ruin them. Was hoping to where them for a performance next week. What would be the best way to remove them so I can just screw them back on? I would send them back to the company to fix, but by the time I pay postage, a may as well have just bought a new pair.

    Your advice is much appreciated

    Thanks

    • Rosy,

      Pardon my language, but JIMINY CHRISTMAS that really STINKS! Whew, sorry about that.

      I will glue down taps on older pairs of shoes, but to glue them down BEFORE PURCHASE AND WITHOUT TELLING YOU takes away the main reason for buying expensive tap shoes, their versatility. I am very sorry to hear about this and in my opinion is grossly unacceptable, not to mention incompetent on the end of the shoe store/shoe manufacturer.

      The only thing I can think to do is to find a local cobbler and ask him/her to sort it out. They will be most familiar with the glue used and different methods of removal, such as specialized dissolving compounds. However, if the manufacturer used cheap, non-shoe grade glue, this may mean that all the cobbler can do is to slowly chip and pry at it until it comes loose. The cobbler should be able to re-mount the taps to work with screws after the tap is loose. This should also not cost very much.

      Like I said, it stinks that you have to find this out right before a show. The way I see it, the store you bought them from owes you a new pair of unglued shoes (shipping included, which to Australia from New York is considerable). If all the store sells is glued-down shoes, then the manufacturer owes you a new pair, or should at least fix them at no cost to you other than shipping them out.

      It is very common knowledge that some people like to loosen their taps and the fact that yours came pre-glued from the store is like them selling a violin to someone with permanently attached strings. I wrote this article because I was dismayed at how little information on taps there is, and unfortunately this ignorance extends to tap shoe providers as well.

      Best of luck,

      -T

      P.S. Who are you dancing with/ Where are you dancing at? I’m very interested in the Australian tap scene. My friends Shane and Thomas have been dancing with Grant Swift in Melbourne, though Thomas is now in Texas with Tapestry Dance Co., and through them I have heard and seen a lot of great dancing that usually doesn’t get promoted here in the States. It would benefit us all to expand our knowledge of other Australian hoofers and tap companies.

      Actually, that would make a good article. I could use an Australian tap dance consultant. Are you up for the job?

  13. Hello! I am a teacher and have a group of performing students with some mid level tap shoes (Block tap flex). We have a performance coming up where they have to dance on concrete instead of a nice floor. :( I tried putting duct tape on the tap of an old shoe, and tapped through it quickly. Outside of cancelling, do you have any ideas of how to protect the taps? (In other words the sound quality is not the importance here. They are dancing for their parents and the public at a Christmas show/tree lighting event! I don’t want their torn up taps back on our studio floors.)
    Any advice is greatly appreciated!
    Andrea

    • Andrea,

      There really is nothing that can be done and I am concerned about them tapping on cement AT ALL! I would strongly advise against something like this as it will not only ruin the shoes, but may potentially harm the students. Tap dance involves a lot of striking the floor and the human body is not designed for that type of abuse, especially not growing children. Possible ailments may include bursitis, fascitis, shin splints and other very serious problems involving the foot, knees and back.

      As much as I love scratching my brain for good answers, I am afraid that I can not condone tap dancing, or any type of dancing for that matter, on cement, especially bare, rough cement. Even if there is wood to put down care must be taken to not exert more than the minimum amount of effort as there is no way to beat a cement floor into working for you: the cement will always win and you will always lose. You see dancers dancing on the street for television and flash mobs, but it is really unhealthy and ten times worse for adolescent dancers where a torn ligament will may haunt them for life. I have been a member of several companies that have canceled shows due to the stage being cement, marble or linoleum upon our arrival. We always request a wood floor and it is ridiculous how many times people say, “Yeah, we have a wood stage,” only for that to be an outright lie or false truth. My favorite is: “Well, we do have a wooden stage, but you didn’t say that you would be tapping on it and we would rather not have scuff marks on it.”

      If the performance MUST go on, then the best that could be done is to buy sheets of plywood (smooth plywood made from pulp, not the plywood made from larger wood chips) and have a piece big enough for everyone to fit, or cut it into pieces big enough for each individual dancer, or two to a board, etc. My point is: tap dance is designed for the friction of wood and any other surface increases the chance for incidence.

      Pending possible temporary wooden platforms, I urge you to reconsider the performance.

      I would like to end my post by saying that I think that it is great that you are finding your students performance opportunities outside of the traditional competitions and recital.

      -T

      • I have been adequately reprimanded.
        The studio has a competition team. (An excellent one at that!) This performance team is the group of children who want to perform more than just the recital, but are not ready for competition. Their dances are short and significantly easier. We do care about the children and injury prevention. And it IS very difficult to find places to perform with a decent floor. But the children are happy to be dancing in front of their parents.

        • Hi Andrea, having read and re-read Tristan’s comment, I really don’t think he was issuing a reprimand or insinuating that you don’t care for your students. His response was passionate but only because he has the interests of dancers at heart. I’m sure you can relate!

          He is absolutely correct that dancing on concrete is not good for anybody, especially if there is a lot of jumping and stomping involved. And, there’s just no way to save those taps from such a rough surface either. IF a dance is significantly low-impact, I could see maybe performing in some supportive sneakers.

          There are definitely ways to perform out and about but when you’re talking concrete or asphalt, a dance that’s heavy on arm movements (maybe something special for the event?) is best.

          • Nichelle,
            You have a wonderful column here and inform multitudes! But then I thought I came to the wrong place for help. But not all your readers are professional, hard stomping dancers. So I hope I can help some people like me. My students dance for the love of it, make their parents happy, and don’t always have a perfect stage.
            I found a simple and successful answer to my problem. I put electrical tape on the tap, then covered that with duct tape. It worked wonderfully, came off easily and left no scratches on the taps. And regarding the students injury prevention, the numbers are about 2.5 min long. Kids played hop scotch and other games for hours on the sidewalks “back in the day” and all was fine.
            I hope I have helped others like me.
            Thank you and Merry Christmas!
            Andrea

            • Andrea,

              I’m very sorry if my post came off as scornful. I have a rocky past with bad floors. When a company of mine does a show we always ask if the floors are wood. 99% of the time the answer is yes, but when we get there 50% of the time that is a down right lie! I then have the option of risking injury or not having enough money for food that week. Needless to say, I have become somewhat bitter towards these promoters for putting me in a position like that.

              But that is for a big tap production. What your kids are doing (I’m sure) is of much lower impact and, as long as they are dancing carefully and adapting to the new environment, a 2.5 minute piece probably isn’t too bad. Kudos on posting the type of tapes you used and the process of said tapes’ application.

              As an “I’m sorry” I would like to share another cool method that I have used for outdoor tap dance: Cornmeal! By spreading some cornmeal on a flat surface you get a pretty loud tap sound without having to stomp around too hard.

              What I’m not sorry about is the great conversation that we’ve had regarding this topic and it only helps to add to this already comprehensive post.

              Andrea, you are correct that everyone who reads my posts are not “professional, hard stomping dancers,” and it is helpful for me to be able to step into another person’s (tap) shoes and see things from their perspective and consider their needs; I stress education in my posts and that applies to ME as well.

              Thank you again for your great contribution to this post and the community of DanceAdvantage.net as a whole.

              -Tristan

              • Hey guys, I’m glad that civil discussion is possible (yay for blogs and the people that read them)! There’s just one more thing I want to add, since we’re talking about stepping into another’s shoes (and this is for anyone who reads the thread, not specifically directed to you, Andrea), and that is, given the visibility of this site, that if we said it’s ok to dance on concrete, we’d have complaints and it would undermine the authority we’ve established (because hopscotch or no, research shows it is not advisable). It’s the same reason my doctor wouldn’t say it’s ok to have a drink of alcohol while pregnant (even though you’ll find sources that say one drink on occasion is ok). Also, since we are online and not among those who ask us questions, we make judgements without all the facts 100% of the time, and it is especially unwise for us to make this or other concessions without all the facts.

                The bottom line is, our columnists will likely give the same answers and opinions whether they are talking about recreational students or professionals because they are 1) expected to provide their professional opinion and 2) professionals whose methods and expectations are the same for any type or level of student (it’s a value I look for in a columnist or guest, actually). Forums are probably the place to go when you want suggestions from the masses, but of course all must be taken with a grain of salt since credentials are not usually provided. When a professional opinion is needed this is a place to come (I won’t say THE place but I do hope some think so). In fact, according to feedback, the professionalism and integrity of information here is exactly why we have a large readership of such variety.

                Andrea, I really am sorry you didn’t get the answer you were hoping for but I am definitely glad that you found a solution that worked for you. Thank you for sharing it so that others can try and see if it works for them. And thanks Tristan for your work and contributions! Have a very happy holiday!

  14. I’m glad I found your blog.
    I have a very tall tap student who had to buy a men’s size 14 wingtip shoe to fit her. She took them somewhere to have taps put on. They put the largest taps they had. Unfortunately, they are not big enough, both toes and heels. She is not having a good tap experience with the too-small taps. Can you recommend something to alleviate our dilemma. I feel bad for her and want to help. No web site I can find actually tells you the dimensions of their taps. What’s up with that? Please help. Thanks and tappingly yours, bonnett

    • Bonnett,

      I understand your and your student’s frustration with the sizing of taps. One company will say that their taps are sizes 1-5 with 1 being the largest, and another company will make their taps sizes 1-7 with 7 being the largest. Why not standardize this like, say, how we do every other aspect of footwear. Go figure.

      I have a couple of suggestions:

      1. Matt Schroepfer, the owner of DancingFair (DancingFair.com), has recently invested in getting his own taps pressed and he has made sure to make sizes larger and smaller than the competition just for this scenario. He can even have custom taps made, though I would bet that that would cost a pretty penny. Dancing Fair’s service is excellent and Matt is the nicest guy you will ever meet. Explain the situation to them and I bet they have the perfect tap size for your student, but just in case…

      2. Bloch’s SO313 shoe would work great. Dubbed the Jason Samuels-Smith shoe since he not only endorses them, but has had a hand in their design, this shoe comes in as big a size as anyone would need. Why I would recommend them to your student? Each size has it’s own tap pre-fit to the shoe. The tap is huge and covers the ENTIRE front of the toe from edge to edge. Plus, the shoe is very comfortable.

      On the other hand, this is a professional level shoe and will cost roughly $130 (DiscountDanceSupply.com) and she may have to try on a pair, send it back, try on a different pair, etc…until she finds one that fits. On the other OTHER hand, these shoes will last her for years if she isn’t tap dancing every day and they are comparable to other high end shoes, like the Capezio K360 which retails for $250-$350 without taps included. If she is on a budget, however…

      3. Lastly, I would refer you to some of the tricks I’ve listed in this article and my article, Customizing Your Tap Shoes: Fashion and Functionality. Here’s the link to that article:
      http://danceadvantage.net/2011/06/23/tap-fashion/

      She can try a couple of things with a local cobbler. The placement of the taps can be adjusted. The tap can be moved up a little and/or rotated slightly to help fill in the edges. Also, you can have a cobbler sand down the edges of the front of the sole so that it is easier for the tap to make contact with the floor. Before I started working with Matt from Dancing Fair I would have to do this and to great success. Of course this also takes a little time, thought, and trial and error.

      I hope this is helpful. Too small taps are very annoying and for steps like wings can make all the difference. Good luck!

      -Tristan

  15. Tristan,
    I came across your article and these postings while trying to figure out how to accomplish what my daughter’s tap teacher suggested she do. Her teacher says her taps are “dull” and said all she had to do was take a screw driver and loosen the screws. At first I thought, “no problem!” That is until I tried to do it. They will not loosen and when I try, it seems as though the screwdriver is mutilating the screw head! She has Leo’s ultratones, which I see you mentioned in your article! Maybe that’s why they sound “dull” to the teacher – if I’m understanding your description of them- is that how they usually are? At the risk of sounding dumb- do tap shoes use reverse screws? Like should I be trying to loosen them turning the screw towards the right, instead of the traditional “lefty loosey”? Thank you for your time and help!
    Sincerely,
    Michelle

    • Tristan Bruns says:

      Michelle,

      First off, the reverse screw question is not dumb! My motorcycle has a reverse bolt that must be loosened in order to adjust the chain and I couldn’t et it off to save my life. When I called the dealer for help I asked this same question and they said, “Uh, duh, lefty loosy, righty tighty,” but it turned out to be righty loosey! Thanks, DesPlaines Honda, for making me feel like an imbecile over the phone.

      Like I said, a valid question. Anyways…

      Different manufacturers and even their distributors will sometimes take liberties with the shoes. I’ve heard people complain that they bought a pair of tap shoes only to find that the taps had been glued down, which is abnormal and made it impossible for them to change their taps. Another possible reason is that there is a metal soundboard between the taps, which is installed so that taps don’t get loose. It is possible, though unlikely, that the screws could have been glued in, or that they did use reverse screws. Defective products means loss in profits, so unfortunately sometimes actions are taken to move shoes out of the warehouse by making slight “alterations”.

      The Ultratone is thicker than Capezio’s, but I wear one on the shoes I’m dancing in now and it’s not dull that I notice a dramatically discernible difference. If the tap has been glued down by the factory than that will make a difference in the tap’s pitch, but the only way to find that out is to rip them off, which won’t kill the shoe, but isn’t good for it by any means.

      How does the teacher wear her taps? Does she loosen them? Gregory Hines would mount the taps directly onto the leather sole, no soundboard or fancy anything. In fact, if you check out the 1989 “Tap Dance In America” television special, Gregory Hines and tap dancer Howard “Sandman” Sims have a running gag about how Sandman wants to loosen the screws on Hines’ tap shoes, saying that the taps “have to breathe a little,” to which Gregory Hines replies, “No, Sandman, I like my taps tight.”

      My point is, the sound of taps falls under the category of subjectivity. One person’s “dull” is another person’s “deeper tone”. When I received my first pair of pro-leve shoes (Leo’s Alexander Concerto w/ Ultratone Taps) everyone remarked on how rich and full the tone was. No one ever mentioned “dull,” however.

      If you take the shoes to a cobbler he can rip them apart and give you a definitive answer on why the screws are so stubborn, but that is a lot of work for a pitch problem and may result in the opposite of your problem, stripped screws.

      Also, I’m not saying that the teacher is wrong, in fact I would congratulate her on getting you and your daughter thinking about the tone and pitch of your taps, which is usually a concern more for professional level dancers.

      You can try an electric drill, which maybe gets those screws loose, but you’ve already put more time and energy into this than you should have to.
      That’s why I have my own shoe guy and buy the pricey shoes, because it can be frustrating when the taps shoes don’t work how you want them to and it is not your fault. I’m sorry to hear about your shoe problems, but it did bring you to this article and for that I am not sorry at all.

      Thanks for reading!
      -Tristan

  16. Charlton says:

    First, let me just say that I agree 100%. The lack of information and knowledge on the subject of taps is unfortunate to say the least. We don’t know where our taps come from, what they’re made of, how much they weigh, what tonal qualities they are expected to have, etc. And, to make matters worse, it seems no one has any real answers! I think this site is currently the best source of information out there. Sigh.

    And now my current problem. I have a pair of Miller and Ben shoes that I hate. The Ultratone taps on the toes make them sound terrible. So bad that I want to throw them in the trash. I decided to try and change the tone of the taps by drilling holes in them. Taking metal away so that the brightness and harshness of them would be subdued. So far it’s better but not great. My next plan is to get a pair of Teletones to swap. Problem is that the Capezio taps don’t fit the shoes as well. So, got me thinking I could make my own taps. Out of wood no less. Tristan, you know what kind of wood Bojangles used on his shoes? I’ve got some access to some rock maple and ebony i’m going to experiment with for now.

    For the record, by fav shoes so far have been the k360s built up by Pete. Second fav were the Lane Alexander Double Concerto. They sounded nice, but they were heavy and made my big toe hurt. Still looking though. Good luck to everyone else too.

    • Charlton,

      I’m not sure what type of wood Bill Robinson used on his split sole clogs, but I asked my friend Marty Bronson, who designed and built my portable tap stage, what he thought about Rock Maple and he was really impressed by your choice of wood. We both agree on the Maple. That stuff will last longer than the shoes!

      The Alexander Concerto’s were a great shoe and were actually my first pro level tap shoe. For a while they were the official shoe of my dance team when I was in elementary and middle school. I’m less crazy about the new version (the Crescendo), but it’s still a decent shoe. Those shoes also did come with a ridiculous build up and I’ve heard other dancers refer to them as “Frankenstein shoes”, but at the time I loved them.

      And yes, you can’t go wrong with the K360.

      Good luck on making your own taps. When the job is done post an update. I wouldn’t mind conducting an interview and writing a piece on that!

      Thanks for reading,
      Tristan

  17. Help! I’m a novice. My son is in a school performance and just learning tap for it. He was given a pair of tap shoes that had been lying around the school. They are Sansha’s, size M 16. (He wears a 10.5/11 street shoe. He says they fit fine). One shoe is missing taps. I went to capezios in NYC. They said he needs x-large taps for replacement and they were out of stock. How do I purchase these online? What size is extra large??? Should I get two sets and replace the ones that are there so both shoes have the same brand of taps?

    • CK,

      I do recommend using the same tap for both shoes. Some taps can be slightly more convex than others and standing on an uneven surface is not good for the back according to my chiropractor.

      For Capezio, the largest size is 1 and gets smaller as the numbers get higher. Go figure. I think that this is becoming the standard for taps, but every company is a little different and sometimes they will change something like sizing. Do they think nobody is going to notice?

      Also, check out Dancing Fair (dancingfair.com). They recently have started to manufacture their own taps and they have a wider selection of taps available and an able support staff ready to take your phone call. That’s where I get my shoes done and order my taps from.

      Capezio taps are available through a number of websites, though the easiest is probably Discount Dance Supply (discountdance.com) complete with a printable sizing chart.

      Bloch is making a really large tap these days and they use it for their Jason Samuels Smith signature shoe, though I haven’t seen them at Discount Dance Supply and I’m not sure on sizing. A local dance store should be able to order them.

      Good luck
      -T

  18. Hi Tristan! I have seen a lot of converse tap shoes at dance competitions. I wanted to do that at my studio, but unfortunately, I can not find a shoe cobbler who will do it. Do you have any suggestions on how to do this myself or what I need to bring them to show them it will work?

    Thank you!
    NB

    • NB,

      Glue. Glue, glue, glue! A high grade adhesive, paerhaps some Gorilla glue or whatever the cobbler is already using, should do the trick. I have discussed this with Matt Schroepfer of Dancing Fair about a similar dilemma and he recommended glue, though you can use screws or nails for extra support. But glue is the way to go, lots of it.

      In fact, for old tap shoes of mine where the screws get stripped I just get them glued on for peace of mind. Some complain about tone, but tap shoes are expensive and for an old pair this way guarantees functionality.

      Good luck!

      -T

  19. Hi Tristan,
    I am in Australia,both my son and daughter tap,and love it. I was reading about the metbar at the bottom of the tap with my daughters beige colour taps it is beige from the factory. Does it matter if when the metbar is worn can it be replaced with black rubber.I am asking this because I have not been able to find a supplier that supplies beige.

    • Bernie,

      Sure, you can replace the worn metbar with a beige rubber pad.

      A rubber pad and a metbar do the same thing; a metbar and rubber pad will both support the metatarsal bones and the muscles, tendons, etc. that surround them.

      The only difference is the amount of friction that switching from a metbar to a rubber pad will cause; the rubber pad will grip the floor a lot more than a metbar will. The difference isn’t TOO dramatic, but if you are super artsy like me then you will notice a difference.

      People in the states don’t realize how big tap is becoming in Australia. Look up Thomas Wadelton for my favorite tap dancer from down under.

      Thanks for reading,
      -T (two semi-colons in one comment…not bad)

  20. Hola Tristan,
    hope the sun is shining where you are today, i am very happy to have found your site and my head is now full of brilliant ideas for shoes. i have one little question for you. Can you tell me about the different types of bloch taps, On their site they dont give any information on the difference in sound.
    NICE ONE!!!!!!!
    Happy tapping xxxxx

    • Steph,

      Hola!

      The standard Bloch tap is their “Techno Tap” which is your standard pair of taps. In my experience they are SLIGHTLY more convex than Capezio’s or Leo’s taps, less so than So Danca, and this gives them a high-pitched, bright sound. I dance a little flatter so I would pick up Capezio’s or Leo’s instead, but I know plenty of tap dancers who like getting up on their toes and/or appreciate the brighter tone. Also, the heel is not as sharp as most of the other brands, which I like and gives “digs” and scraping sounds a warmer tone as well.

      Bloch also produces a tap that they make for their SO313 (the Jason Samuels-Smith endorsed shoe) that is really fat and covers the entire front of the sole of the shoe, which has previously been a problem for some tap dancers with wide feet. I believe that they make that tap in several sizes to fit the different sizes of shoes that they produce.

      These taps are very thick, though hollow inside like most taps, and they have a very deep tone. They also lay very flat on the floor and compared to the convex Techno Tap are pretty neutral in curvature on the bottom. Similar to the Techno Tap the heel is not too sharp on the edge (unlike the So Danca heels that are sharp enough to strip the paint off of the side of a house).

      However, the sole of the SO313 is also bigger heavier than average and I’m not sure if the lower-pitched tone is due to a giant tap or a heavy shoe, though my guess would be both.

      I don’t know if they sell the SO313′s fat taps a la carte, but I would be surprised if they didn’t. If you can find either of these taps for less than Capezio’s or Leo’s and/or appreciate a higher/lower pitch than the Capezio’s/Leo’s then I say scoop them up.

      I’m also very glad that you stumbled onto my column on DA and as of right now it is a beautiful sunny day in Chicago!

      -T

  21. So, I just ordered the new Capezio K540′s, really excited about them but like most taps, they come with that rubber skid pad on the bottom. Is there a way to remove these on my own or should I take them to a cobbler?

    • Hayley,

      The pads are glued down and you could do it yourself with a lot of patience. The pads are glued down and you will need some glue dissolver (like Goo Gone) and something flat like a small paint scraper or a large flat head screwdriver. Scrape a little, use the dissolver, scrape a little more, etc. The bottom of the shoes may not look too pretty, but you can take some fine grit sandpaper and sand it down. Of course, a cobbler will have more suitable tools and expertise and I have had sole work done for $4, $6 and FREE. Either way, you should be good. Thanks for reading!

      -T

  22. Kate Karren says:

    My daughter is almost 11 years old and has been tapping in a capezio cg09 …this summer she has been pushed in her tap…and it is a lot more intricate and difficult contemporary style. she is definitely hitting a more professional level in tap. It is time to buy new tap shoes and I would like to get her a better shoe. Especially with her doing competitive solos this year. I question going to a k360 only because her feet are still growing. I was looking for something in between…I see capezio has a new k540… But I can’t find any info or reviews on this shoe. Any info would be helpful. Or let me know if think the k360 is worth it (she really wants them in hot pink :) thanks!

  23. Tristan,

    I’ve been looking for a new set of taps for about two weeks now. It seems that local stores only know about capezio taps and offer just them. I’m looking for something with a stronger louder sound and I came across Neo Rythmo ProTones. They seem just different enough and might give me the sound I’m looking for. What do you think?
    Thanks,
    Ryan

  24. Marcia Hornberger says:

    Hi there! I just found your website. :) I have a question. Do you know if we can still purchase the taps that have like a double tap? (a tap inside a tap) Kind of like clogging shoe taps..but..there is a smaller tap inside the main tap to make a little rattle sound? I don’t know the name of this type of tap and I have not seen it in a while. Do you know what I’m talking about? Thanks for your help. :)

    • Your looking for Staccato Taps and you can still get them from Capezio. They do make an interesting sound, but most tappers stay away from them because it’s to easy to “cheat” a tap that you don’t make because the tap will jingle making it sound as if you did. But they are fun to dance on. Enjoy!!

    • You can also order them at just about any dance store.

  25. Hi guys
    Those interested in seeing a photo of the tap plates used in the 1950′s should check out http://www.tapdancingclasses.com/tap_dancing_shoes
    They are still being used by me today in demonstrations around the globe, 50 years after they were screwed to my first tap shoes at age 3

    I know a thing or two about tap plate care after 50 years of competitive and now professional dancing. The only thing I do is lightly polish them with a very fine steel wool to remove any build up of grime. That’s it !

    You can find me on page 95 of this years Guinness Book of Records. Yes I’m the fastest tap dancer in the world over 60 seconds and have been for the past four years.

    Keep up the good work guys.

    Tony Adams

  26. Sorry, the link I gave you above needed .html on the end to work, try this http://www.tapdancingclasses.com/tap_dancing_shoes.html
    While I am here… I read about dancing on concrete above. I have danced a lot on concrete but only if its polished. Two reasons, the first being that rough concrete will wear down the tap plates in no time and the second more important reason is that catching the plates on any rough bits could tear your knee or ankle ligaments.
    If you wanted to practice on say your very smooth (polished) concrete garage floor, I would have it coated with an epoxy resin that dries hard. Its a great surface to dance on and doesnt wear your tap plates out.
    Tony Adams

  27. kewl! any info on morgans? the glass alloy taps of yesteryear? i’m super curious about them and would love to know more about them.

  28. at one time, i was looking into finding a foundry to make large taps for a 6’5″ student of mine who had killer arches and had to wear supportive work boots for his tap shoes. never did find a foundry for the guy, but wow- his teletone 1s looked like little postage stamps on the bottom of his boots! lol!

    • Kim,

      Try Dancing Fair (thefair.com). They have recently been making their own taps, The Super Sonics, and they have a very large tap size.

      It may be possible to find an amateur or professional-with-free-time metalworker to cut the aluminum. I am not an expert in this area and can not provide too much terminology, but I know many home brewers and car enthusiasts who enjoy working with metal. A 12” x 24”sheet of aluminum with good machinability (like 2011 or 6061) costs between $30-$40 and you could probably get a several pairs of taps off of one sheet.

      Maybe a Craigslist ad for metal workers will yield results. Making taps is an ambitious DIY project, but there are many hobbyists who go nuts and this may sound like an interesting project for one or a few of them.

      -T

  29. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8yGGtVKrD8
    What tap shoes did the nicholas brothers wear? Also…in terms of making my own tap shoes out of plats…how possible is it? Is the sound board necessary or can I just epoxy on a pair of taps that fit?

    • P,

      Yeah, just epoxy them down. Make sure you like their positioning first since there is really no going back after that, but, yeah, glue them down.

      As for the Nicholas brothers’ shoes I am not sure what kind that they used. It may have just been a dress shoe with taps on them, though I don’t know for sure. Next time I see Harold Kromer I will ask him.

      -T

  30. I take tap lessons and everyone else makes a really good noise when doing beat riffs. My heel taps hardly make a noise at all. What can I do?

    • H,

      Usually the answer is, and I’m not trying to be rude, to tap louder. Put some more muscle in it! If it is a shoe issue you can upgrade or modify your existing pair to have a double or triple sole – this is an extra slab of leather or two to the bottom of the shoe to increase volume and deepen the tone. However, I have bought entry level tap shoes on a lark just to try them out and I could get pretty loud, so…

      -T

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