Do You Need Pole Dancing Shoes?

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When I was teaching regularly, most of my new students would ask the pole dancing shoes question when they first signed up for a class. Of course, it was usually disguised as something like:

"Uh....and what should I wear to class?"

It's a pretty innocent sounding question, but it didn't take long for me to understand what kind of information they were after.

What they really meant was, "Are you going to make me wear skimpy clothes and 6 inch heels?"

And my answer was always the same as I pointed out my usual attire (comfy fitness wear):

"Wear whatever you're comfortable in, and just bare feet please."

Now that's not to say that YOU shouldn't wear platform heels to class, but there are a few things to take into consideration when deciding.

Things To Consider

Firstly, what type of classes are you signing up for, ie what's the style of the teacher or the studio. If the primary focus is on pole fitness, you'll probably be working out in bare feet, whereas a studio that leans more toward the exotic dance side of things will likely encourage shoes in class.

Secondly, how do you feel about wearing high heel shoes in general? If your typical footwear consists mainly of comfort shoes, then even a 2" heel is probably going to take some getting used to.

But if you're the kind of person who loves high heels and wears them frequently, it's not so much of a stretch to graduate to pole dancing shoes.

And finally, consider any health or structural issues you may need to take into account. Are your feet, knees and hips healthy? Or do you suffer from bunions, plantar fasciities, stiffness from an old soccer injury, or other issues that may make wearing heels uncomfortable or unsafe?

I recently got a question from a site visitor who was wondering if it was safe for her to wear the 6" heels that were required in her pole dancing class. You can read her question, my answer, and the input of others on this page about her question: Are 6" heels really necessary in my pole class?

What's Wrong With Wearing Pole Dancing Shoes?

Absolutely nothing! I'm not trying to ruin your excuse for buying a pair of sexy platform shoes.

My purpose here is just to help you figure out if a pair of pole dancing shoes is something you're going to need.

After all, aside from your own dance pole and crash mat, this is likely to be one of the most expensive accessories you'll invest in.

Ultimately your personal style and reasons for getting into pole dancing will determine whether pole dancing shoes are a must have item or "nice to have but not a necessity."

The Arguments For Bare Feet

Although everyone is different, most women come to pole dancing classes looking primarily for a fun way to get fit.

While for some, playing dress up is definitely part of the fun, for others, it's the moves that do it for them and they couldn't care less whether they're showing off their PVC or their pedicure in class.

As a fitness instructor, my personal preference was always for bare feet for at least the first several levels of classes.

Why? Simply because it's much harder to feel the floor (and therefore to feel secure) with 5 or 6 inches of shoe between you and the floor!

Bare feet is definitely safer and more secure when you're just starting out, both for you and for the other students in the class (I've heard stories of pole dancing shoes flying across the room and of heels causing some nasty scratches because the wearer isn't used to the extra height - OUCH!).

Plus, it's much less expensive if you don't have to invest in a pair of platform shoes at the outset. After all, until you're sure you're going to stick with your pole dancing classes, you may not want to spend money on shoes that you may not wear again.

The Arguments For Shoes

"Shoe malfunctions" aside, many students often reach a point where they're ready to start exploring the other aspects of this dance form, namely the "delicious fitness" that comes with getting to know your sensual side.

Pulling out a pair of sexy pole dance shoes and/or boots at this point, along with a few other choice costume items, can be a great way to get in touch with what I call your personal "yum factor."

Remember when you were a kid and loved to play dress up? Well, this isn't much different, except you're a bigger person now.

And you're challenging societal definitions of "good" and "bad" by experimenting with how you look, feel and move.

I'm all for THAT! In fact, I believe that's a healthy thing for any woman to do on her journey to increased confidence and self-esteem.

But there are other reasons for wearing pole dancing shoes. Depending on the type of shoe and the material, shoes can help you with climbs as they can lend grip. Stay away from real leather, which is very slippery, and opt instead for PU or what's commonly called "patent," (which often does not refer to patent leather anymore, but rather a synthetic leather that's actually quite grippy).

Some people also feel that shoes help to provide a counter-balance, making it easier to get into, and stay in, certain moves because of the extra weight they provide.

So, Heels Or No Heels?

That's a question I'll let you decide for yourself, based on why you're taking up pole dancing (purely for fitness, purely for someone else's benefit, or somewhere in between).

If you do opt to wear pole dancing shoes in class, I strongly advise that you look for a good quality pair of shoes that you know will stay on your feet and that won't throw a heel when you kick up into an inversion.

Although a sale tag may seem appealing, buying something that's cheaply made, such as a costume shoe, can end up costing you down the road. A poor fit, parts that come off, or a heel that gives out can make your dance experience uncomfortable or even downright dangerous.

Ultimately, the decision on whether or not to wear shoes rests with you. After all, just because a teacher suggests or invites you to wear pole dancing shoes, doesn't mean you must do as she says. After all, you're a grown up and can make your own decisions...right?

I Want Shoes!

If you've decided that pole dancing shoes are for you, here are a few helpful links:

Pole shoes tips 'n' tricks

Browse our online shoe shop