- Wear different shoes.
The best cure is to wear a different pair of shoes — different sole materials give amazingly different amounts of slip versus grip. Advantages to this approach: effective. Disadvantages: requires planning ahead, which means already having experience with the dance floor in question. And it requires owning multiple pairs of shoes, each with different soles, which requires extra spending.
If you are a regular visitor to a slippery floor, keep trying different shoes each time you go until you find a pair that give you just the right combination of slip and grip. For informal Swing dancing venues, you can even wear sneakers. We’ve found that for a lot of informal places with slippery floors, somewhat worn-out running shoes are good. (New running shoes are usually too “grippy.”)
In general, suede soles almost always give just the right combination of slip and grip. All ballroom dance shoes come with thin suede on the soles. A regular (fuzzier) suede works even better when dealing with slippery floors. You can add suede soles to any pair of dance shoes, regular shoes, or even sneakers at a good shoe repair store for about $40, or you can do it yourself.
- Temporary fixes to your shoes.The above is all well and good if you can arm yourself ahead of time with the right pair of shoes. But what to do when you’re at a dance or wedding and life is unexpectedly slippery? Three possibilities:
- Here’s a brilliant tip from Kat in Australia: If wearing plastic or smooth leather soled shoes that are too slippery, go to the bathrooms and wet a bit of toilet paper, wipe it on the soles and then wipe dry with another piece of toilet paper. She reports, “I don’t know why this makes shoes less slippery but it does, with no permanent effects to the shoes or floor.” We have had confirmations that this works great, and it seems like a nearly perfect solution: easy, quick, free, no advance planning or fancy equipment required, and no permanent effects to shoes or floor.
- If tip #1 doesn’t quite do the trick or if its effects fade too soon, step outside, friend, step outside . . . and scuff up your soles on a concrete sidewalk or even on the street. Just stand there and slide your feet back and forth for a while, and twist them, too. The rougher and more scuffed the sole, the better — you’re turning the smooth leather sole into something vaguely like suede. It won’t hurt the shoe, and it will help your dancing a lot.
- If you can plan ahead, buy a pair of suede slip-on half-soles (about $22) and keep them with you. These clever little things slip onto the front of your shoes like a muzzle, adding suede soles to the front of your shoes. Keep a pair in a pocket whenever you go out somewhere that might involve dancing.
- Dance differently.On slippery floors, you might try the following:
- Take smaller steps than usual. The slipperier the floor, the smaller the steps. Any rock-steps should be really tiny, which means making the steps before and after the rock-step small also.
- Bend your knees more than usual for better balance (like martial arts folks).
- Don’t push off as strongly on traveling steps.