Much more than just a fashion statement, what you wear on your feet can really boost your pole dancing prowess.
Think for a moment about the contact area between your feet and the pole. Tiny, isn’t it? Yet that small area is vital for getting you up the pole, keeping you on the pole and sometimes even suspending your entire body weight from it.
The right footwear will also make your pole work much more comfortable, protecting your skin from bruising, scrapes and carpet burns.
When I’m teaching, I recommend that my students buy a pair of pole shoes (sometimes called stripper shoes or porn shoes). But why should you want to invest in a pair of plastic shoes with 5 or 6 inch heels? After all, you can’t exactly wear them to the office the next morning. Well, let me tell you…
- These shoes really stick to the pole. Pole shoes are a lot more grippy than bare feet, so you should find climbing or inverts such as Fang become a lot easier.
- The shoes are designed for dancers and are extremely comfortable. They have padding on the insoles and a curved end to help you pivot gracefully around the pole.
- Because they’re relatively heavy, pole shoes can help you get a deeper stretch across your legs when you invert. You should also be able to get a little extra momentum on spins when you kick out.
- Pole shoes will improve your posture and general ‘grounding’ as you walk around the pole. They also force your calf muscles to work harder – in essence you are on tip-toes the whole time.
- They make you look goooood. A pair of these shoes will do more for your legs and bum than 3 months at the gym!
More on pole shoes
Pole shoes come in a wide range of heights from 3 to 10 inches (and beyond!). If you’re not used to walking in heels, start off with a lower platform. (Also if you’re a tall girl like me you’ll probably want to stick with shorter heels. I tend to go for 4" platforms to stop me towering over everyone else in the room.)
Avoid shoes with big buckles or metal studs on them as they may damage the pole or your feet.
If you choose a pair without an ankle strap, take two pieces of ribbon and thread them under the shoe arches, then up and around your ankle and tie securely (similar to doing up a ballet ribbon). This will make the sure the shoes don’t get kicked off in an aggressive spin – not good for you or any bystanders!
Respect your shoes
You may find inverts become difficult again the first time you wear pole shoes because of the extra weight on your feet. In fact it’s a good idea to take off your shoes when you’re learning The Blade, The Chopper or The Hercules – not only will it make the move easier, but if you land a little harder than you expect you won’t run the risk of spraining your ankles.
And make sure you don’t take a chunk out of your leg with your new 6" heels when you do the seated spinner or similar moves. You now have some potent pieces of footwear attached to your legs – respect them accordingly!
The emperor’s new shoes
Though pole shoes are great, many people find they are most comfortable pole dancing in bare feet. Particularly if you’re just starting out, getting the hang of moving round the pole is often enough without worrying about balancing on high platforms at the same time. And having bare feet is a good option:
- Though not as good as pole shoes, skin sticks incredibly well to the metal pole. It’s a much better choice than fabric or many plastics.
- You’ll get a lot more feedback through your body, helping you learn how much pressure you need to exert on the pole for each move.
- You will get to know the ‘feel’ of the pole much more quickly, helping to build confidence in your ability to perform new and existing moves.
- And, of course, there’s no danger of you scratching your pole.
If you going to be pole dancing for extended periods of time I’d recommend wearing plastic-coated or leather trainers. Libby and I wore these when we were filming the Pole Exercise DVD, and we often taught in them at the end of four hours of back-to-back classes when our feet were aching!
As well as being very comfortable, plastic-coated trainers do stick a little to the pole and will protect your feet from bruising. They won’t give you as much grip as bare feet or pole shoes though, so you may want to ditch the trainers if you’re learning something new. I’ve found that Adidas and Puma do a great range, though make sure they are fully plastic or leather and have no fabric on them (some like
these or these these or these Geox Snakes).
Professional dance shoes such as jazz shoes or blocks will give you almost no grip on the pole. They provide a great challenge for intermediate and advanced pole users, but would be very difficult – and probably quite disheartening – for you if you’re just starting out.
Some online footwear outlets to get you started.
- BananaShoes [UK] (aff.) Site with a huge range of shoes, boots and other gear too (recommended by Shelly)
- Pleaser USA [US] Manufacturers of the pole shoes featured above and many, many more besides, all illustrated with lovely pictures (wholesale only)
- Pleaser UK [UK] Same shoes, less good website
- Heels For You [US] Another US company with a wide range of shoes (and lots of yummy pictures)
- Amazon.com [US] Pleaser shoes on Amazon
- High Heel Place Not a shop, but a “place where all the people in the world who like high heels can come together and share their thoughts.” Reviews, galleries and an active forum. Definitely worth a look if you’re seriously into your shoes.
What about boots? Well, we realised we had too much to say about them to fit in here, so we’ll be devoting a whole post to them soon. Stay tuned, or subscribe today to get the latest pole news, views and moves delivered straight to your inbox.
Update: Click here for the post about boots.
Shoes update: We’ve had quite a few people asking about the black starry shoes in the article and where to buy them. They are the Pleaser KISS-201LT4 and are available with blue and pink stars.
If you’re in the UK, BananaShoes has them in both blue and pink for £62. Fantasy Heels sells them for £70. Wholesale Erotica has them at a much more attractive £40, though unfortunately that’s wholesale only. Strangely, their public shop (on the same site) doesn’t seem to stock them, though they may be able to point you in the right direction. Pleaser’s own UK shop doesn’t seem to have them either, though again they may be able to help.
There are a lot more shopping options in the US. Even if you live elsewhere, ordering from the US is a possibility and probably cheaper too. Heels For You have them for $61, or just over £30, (plus postage) and say they will ship to most countries. Amazon in the US also stocks them (and currently for just $44, or £23), though I don’t know if they will ship internationally. A couple of other US stockists I found via Google are Snaz 75 and The Red Door. Stacy also found them at DesireShoes.
If you’ve bought a pair or know somewhere else that sells them (particularly in the UK), please add a comment to let us know.