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Types Of Tap Shoes That You Should Know

18 Mar 2023

To perform the intricate steps and sounds of tap dance, dancers need shoes designed specifically for the art form. There is a wide variety of tap shoes available on the market, and the type you select should be tailored to your dancer's experience and maturity level.

As with choosing the right pair of school or dress shoes, dance class requires that you make sure your tap shoes fit snugly with little room for growth. A tap shoe is a well-made shoe with tap plates already attached or the ability to attach plates; it can be tied or buckled.

The noise-making aspect of tap dance is a major draw for many dancers of all ages. Find out about the top products on the market and advice for finding the perfect tap shoes, whether you're looking for your child's first pair of tap shoes or a new style for your older dancer, in the following paragraphs.

Types Of Tap Shoes

Mary Jane

Mary Jane

Mary Jane tap shoes have an elastic strap across the foot with a ribbon to be tied, or they have a buckle strap, and they are typically made of patent leather, leather, or synthetic materials in black, white, or tan. Full-sole Mary Jane tap shoes are the only type available.

Will a pair of Mary Janes or Merry Janes work for learning tap?

There is no doubt that Mary Jane tap shoes are the best choice for newcomers. Young female dancers often start out using Mary Jane shoes for tap. This design of shoe has been worn by young women for many years, and it can even be seen in dance scenes dating back to the Shirley Temple era!

Full Sole Flat Oxford

Full Sole Flat Oxford

Flat tap shoes in the Oxford style are available in leather, faux leather, or synthetic materials and are fastened with laces, just like traditional Oxford dress shoes. The heel height is approximately 3 cm. This design of shoe is characterized by a full, hard sole that softens with wear and repeated wear.

Split Sole Flat Oxford

Split Sole Flat Oxford

You can think of split-sole tap shoes as jazz shoes with taps attached. Historically, tap shoes' full, hard soles have provided dancers with the necessary arch and ankle support. Split-sole variations have emerged in recent years as a means of catering to the "fast food" approach to mastering complex tap skills.

Since split-sole tap shoes are more flexible than hard sole tap shoes, they can often be broken in more quickly and used for tap work before the full break-in period. This is where the advantages of split-sole tap shoes, which are especially useful for beginners, end.

Character Heel

Character Heel

In the dance world, the term "character tap shoe" describes the heel most commonly worn by female dancers. Mary Jane-style buckle straps cross the foot on character tap shoes, which also come in a range of heel heights from 1.5" to 3".

Depending on your preference, you can find this design in genuine or synthetic leather, with or without taps already attached (in which case you'll need to buy taps separately and have a cobbler attach them). Character heels are commonly used in traditional or classic tap styles (think "Singin' in the Rain"), and dancers typically begin wearing them between the ages of 10 and 12.

A character tap shoe and a Mary Jane heeled tap shoe differ primarily in their height and style. To begin, a character heel is typically taller than a Mary Jane heel, making them ideal for tap dancing. The second is that the heel gradually tapers from its widest point at its attachment to the shoe to its narrowest point at its tip or end that hits the floor. The heels of Mary Jane tap shoes are typically the same width from top to bottom as those of Oxford tap shoes.


How Do I Know What Size Tap Shoe to Buy?

Fitting tap shoes accurately is just as important as fitting ballet or jazz shoes. If you want better sound quality, tap precision, and shock absorption, your dance shoes should fit snugly. Tap shoes should fit snugly rather than loosely at first because they will stretch to accommodate your feet as you wear them.

Tap shoes should be snug, but not painfully so. Your shoes are probably too narrow if they are causing pain on the sides of your feet. The dancer needs a larger size if her toes are bending, curling, or overlapping inside the shoe.

Tap Shoe Care: What Works Best?

With only indoor use, tap shoes should maintain a relatively clean appearance. On rare occasions, however, you may discover scratches or scuffs that necessitate a thorough cleaning.

Tap shoe care varies according to the shoe's construction. A renovating polish or regular leather cleaner applied with a soft cloth will do the trick when it comes to removing scuff marks from leather footwear. In addition, a wet wipe or damp cloth can be used to gently clean patent tap shoes. Shoes made of canvas or fabric can be spot cleaned with a cloth dampened in a mild detergent.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Repairing Tap Shoes

The tap on your tap shoe may become loose after some time has passed. It's usually nothing to worry about because taps secured with screws are meant to become slightly looser over time, which results in a crisper sound when you dance.

When you move, though, if you feel the tap jiggling up and down, you should probably tighten it. As long as you don't overtighten the screw and damage the hole it's in, it only takes a couple of twists.

Taps that keep coming loose or falling off indicate that it's time to shop for a new pair of tap shoes. Professional quality tap shoes, such as those found at Bloch, are highly recommended for advanced dancers who are constantly wearing out their cheaper, less durable tap shoes.

Should I buy slip on tap shoes?

We have already warned you about the risks of wearing split-soled tap shoes earlier in this article, so we strongly advise against purchasing a pair of slip-on tap shoes. While lace-ups are preferable for tap dancing, finding a pair of full-soled slip-on shoes can be a challenge. If you need to switch shoes frequently during a performance or recital, slip-ons may seem convenient. However, if you wear lace-ups to school, you can easily make them slip-on shoes by inserting thin elastics into the lacing holes.

What Colour Tap Shoes Should I Get?

Black tap shoes are extremely flexible and can be used for a wide variety of tap dance styles. However, white tap shoes are a good option if you want to tap dance primarily as a form of physical activity rather than for performance. White tap shoes are typically more supportive and lighter than black ones.

Finally, it's up to you to choose the color of your tap shoes. There is a wide variety of tap shoes out there, so it shouldn't be hard to find a good fit.

The price of a pair of tap shoes.

Tap shoes can cost anywhere from $30 USD for a pair designed for young beginners to well over $300 USD for a pair designed for professional dancers. Shoes with an intermediate level of difficulty should cost somewhere in the middle.


Dance shoe stores and websites sell tap shoes. However, it is recommended that you try on your first pair of tap shoes with the assistance of a knowledgeable salesperson who is familiar with the needs of young ballet students.

Always try on dance shoes while wearing the socks or tights you intend to dance in. Dancers should try on their shoes with their own socks and equipment, even though many stores sell disposable socks for this purpose. This will allow the dancers to get acclimated to the tap shoes by walking around in them and trying out some basic tap steps and foot stretches.

The typical price range for a pair of tap shoes is $40 to $100. Don't go crazy on your first pair of tap shoes because you'll quickly learn which features are most important to you and therefore will want to upgrade to something that better suits your dancing.

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