Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pole Shoes 101

As you begin to get indulged in your pole dancing addiction, you will find yourself at a point when you're ready to splurge and treat yourself to some necessary attire. When one thinks of pole dancing, the most common form of attire that comes to mind are shoes. Shoes to a pole dancer are like ice skates to an ice-skater. Your shoes not only enhance your performance, they serve as a protective and often in certain moves, a necessary key element to the illusion of pole dancing.

Picking the Right Shoe
Pole shoes come in a variety of shapes, sizes, height, and colors. The perfect shoe is different for each person. Two popular shoe brands out on the market are Pleasers and Ellie. My personal favorite are Pleasers. Both brands can be found at any local adult novelty store such as popular U.S. franchise chains Lover's Lane or Cirillas. In order to familiarize yourself with the fit and feel of a particular manufacturer’s shoe, I recommend visiting one of these stores to try on the shoes to find the perfect shoe that feels right for your foot. Pole shoes have a tendency to feel small and tight, however after continual use over time the shoe will stretch and form to your feet. When you're picking your first pair, you want to pick a shoe that has a lower heel. As you progress and adapt to wearing heels, you will be able to upgrade to a higher heel. Another important consideration for choosing your shoes are ankle straps. Ankle straps offer support and will ensure your shoe will stay in place on your feet where they belong. It's important to think in terms of safety in every aspect of pole dancing- this includes learning a new move to relearning movement in shoes. A shoe will change your entire dancing experience. Shoes bring about an entire awareness of your feet. They elongate your legs and the focus shifts to the pretty new eye candy on your feet. Shoes can also change the way you feel. There is a magic about them in that they make you not only look but feel sexy.

Pole shoes come in many different heights. Common pole dance shoes can be found in three to eight inch heels. Bad Kitty Exotic Wear is one of my favorite online shoe retailers as they have their shoe selection organized by heel height. As the heel size increases so will your shoe's platform. The platform is the portion of the shoe supporting the ball of your foot. The platform's purpose is to alleviate stress placed on your foot from an increased arch.  Higher platforms assist with increasing stability for higher heels. 

Relearning Movement in a Shoe
Once you've purchased your new shoes, you will be eager to try them out with your pole. To get acquainted with your shoes you will want to prepare yourself with a few simple steps for a successful beginning to a new love affair with your feet.

Step 1: Assess your floor. Your floor surface will make a huge impact on the success of your shoe experience. Hard floor surfaces such as hardwood are recommended. You want to make sure the soles of your shoes are intended for pole wear and do not have a slick material. Pole shoes have soles that are designed to grip hard surfaced floors. If you have carpet, moving in your shoes will be difficult. The soles of your shoes will grip the carpet making it nearly impossible to smoothly move- which is a huge part of maintaining dance flow. A trick to get around this barrier is using packaging tape on your shoe's soles. This will create a slick sole that will allow smooth movement over carpeted surfaces. Please exercise caution as your shoes will lack grip therefore requiring you to have an increased control of your movement to prevent injury.

Step 2: Maintain Stability. Use the pole to your advantage. Always hold onto the pole when starting out in shoes. The pole will enable you to maintain stability and can prevent injuries.

Step 3: Start Slow. Begin with a toe drag walk. Beginning along side your pole, start with stepping forward with your inside leg. Your outside leg will then drag along the floor with the toes of your shoe and swing forward into a forward step. Make sure to maintain contact with the floor as your drag your foot towards your stationary leg. Once your back leg is even with your opposite leg you can break the floor contact and start off with your new step in a smooth and fluid movement. Repeat the sequence into a walk around the pole. The consistent contact of dragging your back leg will assist with maintaining your stability as you shift your weight to hold your balance.  Click here for a video tutorial for this concept of walking in heels. 

Step 4: Avoid Learning New Tricks in Shoes. The weight of shoes will increase your awareness of your feet. When learning new tricks, it's important your focus is on the trick and execution. Performing new tricks in shoes will direct your focus to your feet, therefore increasing your likelihood of a potentially dangerous error resulting in injury. This is a bad idea all around. Solidify your trick then you can progress it to executing it with shoes.

The Magic of Creating an Illusion
Pole shoes are utilized for more than being just a costume piece in a performance. Shoes protect the feet from pole related injury. Common minor injuries of the feet include bruising and skin tears or burns. As you progress in your dancing, these injuries are inevitable. Your skin will adapt like any other part of your body that comes in contact with the pole. Implementing shoes during your practice helps alleviate habitual insult to existing injury.

Pole shoes also can assist a dancer with tricks. The material used to make shoes creates a stick to the pole creating a natural grip aide. This is beneficial as an energy preservation in pole climbing. In aerial work, I've learned it's important to incorporate moves that allow me to preserve my energy. Utilizing shoes as a tool for this concept have proven to be beneficial in performances where multiple tricks are displayed. Energy preservation is an important safety mechanism in injury prevention. Another form of trick assistant that shoes have become notorious in their magic act are creating the illusion of increased flexibility. I have found that the space of my shoe helps close gaps where I lack flexibility. A perfect example of this is when I want to pull my foot closer to my head in certain inverted moves. I find by having a point of secure contact such as my shoe's heel helps me to hold my foot in the desired pose. Of course it helps to have an active flexibility regimen in conjunction with performing tricks that implement this concept, however for those that are at that point in their practice- using shoes to get to your goal can be quite beneficial in your progress. As for a simpler example of using your shoes to your benefit, a split grip plank slide is best performed with shoes in order to prevent toe burn as you slide your feet across the floor to an upright position. This is a move I have performed without shoes and have paid dearly for in the aftermath. I would not recommend doing this move or any move similar without shoes. Your weight is balanced on your shoe's platform, therefore the chunkier your platform, the better results in these type of tricks you will have.

This concludes Pole Shoes 101. Over all, pole shoes are a beautiful piece that every pole dancer should add to their collection of pole attire. Your shoes help shape you as a dancer and bring about their magic to enhance your performance. In the world of pole artistry, the shoe is just a paint brush the artist uses to paint their performance into a masterpiece.


  1. Also, you want to buy a size smaller than your used to. In the 2nd picture of the feet wearing shoes those shoes are about 2 sizes too big. You want the back of the shoe to line up with the back of your heel while standing up, not stick out. I made the same mistake and bought a 9 when I actually wear a 7. Wearing a smaller size will make your shoes last longer as they stretch out. One way to test is to take off your worn shoes and see how close the indent of your heel is to the edge of the shoe. it should be less than half an inch.

  2. Thanks for reading and the comment dawnfire90. Actually there's a shadow on the wall around the shoes making them look bigger than they are. They fit perfectly and my heels back right up to the back of the shoe and my toes don't protrude over the front edge either. I do see where it appears they are much larger than they really are. I take and edit all my own photos and never noticed that detail until you pointed it out. :)