Tap dancing is a rhythmic style of dancing, which has been influenced over the years by jazz and Irish dancing. It is a style of dance that can be picked up at any age, but if you have decided to start, the choice of tap shoes is overwhelming. Here we look at the different styles of tap shoes, as well as focussing on the best tap dancing shoes for beginners.
Searching for a bargain is always a risk with dance wear, but this is especially true for tap shoes. Because of the movement and impact being put on your feet, they should be comfortable, stable and durable.
Saying that, tap shoes aren’t ridiculously expensive. As long as you’re purchasing from a well-known dance wear brand, the shoes should last up to a year without breaking the bank!
So, let’s look at the best brands of tap shoes.
What are the Best Brands of Tap Shoes?
Bloch is an Australian dance-clothing brand, which offers an extensive range of premium character, stage and tap shoes for women and men. Their tap shoes are trusted in this industry for being comfortable and functional.
Capezio is a well-known and trusted dance wear brand, which has been around since 1887. They make quality tap shoes in different varieties to suit all styles and experience levels.
Sansha manufactures an extensive range of dance shoes for ballet, jazz, hip-hop, ballroom and tap. Sansha collaborates with dance professional to make great quality tap shoes using 100% leather.
Avi Miller and Ofer Ben are worldwide tap teachers and performers who design professional, high-end tap shoes. We’re only going to discuss one of these shoes in our review, as we don’t expect beginners to fork out $200 on a pair shoes.
What are the Different Styles of Tap Shoes?
1. Mary Jane
This style of tap shoe is particularly popular with beginners and young tap dancers. They come with one strap over the foot, usually fastened with a buckle or single lace.
Lace-up tap shoes are typically preferred by advanced and professional tap dancers, but this does not stop beginners from wearing them. A benefit of Oxford tap shoes is that they’re great for wide or narrow feet as the laces can be used to adjust the width.
What to Look for in Beginner Tap Shoes...
Heel – The heel should be relatively low to put less pressure on your arches and legs.
Support – It is very important that the tap shoes are supportive of your arches and your heel. This is why the majority of ‘beginner’ tap shoes will be full-sole. Even advanced, professional tap dancers wear full soled, supportive tap shoes.
Fit – Depending on the brand, the size that you should order will vary (this will be explained for each style of shoe below). In terms of fit, tap shoes should be snug without being uncomfortable or pinching. There shouldn’t be much spare room in the toe box.
Cushioning – As you can imagine, tap dancing can be tough on the feet if you’re a beginner. Something to look out for in your first pair of tap shoes is a shock-absorbing insole. Cushioning also provides a ‘memory’ mould of your foot, for added comfort.
Best Tap Shoes for Women
Mary Jane Tap Shoes
Capezio Women’s Mary Jane Tap Shoe
“BEST TAP SHOES FOR WIDE FEET”
These are perfect tap shoes for beginners because they’ve got a reasonably small 1” heel and made of 100% soft leather.
They have a round-toe and non-slip heel counter, which assists with keeping the shoe in place.
Ideally with tap shoes for beginners, the shoes will not need much breaking in, and this is the case with these. If you’re looking for tap shoes for wide feet then these are a good choice, as they’re available in a ‘wide’ size.
Bloch S0302 Tap-On Tap Shoe
“BEST TAP SHOES FOR NARROW FEET”
Here we have a similar Mary Jane style shoe but from Bloch. They also have a 1” heel and are made from 100% leather. These are extremely comfortable tap shoes as they have a cushioned insole for shock absorption and to protect the metatarsals.
The buckle and strap are smaller than the previous pair from Capezio, this may provide a little less stability but it is fasted with elastic for a snug fit.
These are recommended as one of the best tap shoes for narrow feet.
Capezio N625 Tyette Tap Shoe
Capezio have made another great pair of tap dancing shoes for women. They’re made with the amazing quality expected of the brand, for a really affordable price.
Unlike the previous two pairs, these are fastened with a bow on the top of the foot. They’re made from 100% synthetic material with PU upper and they’re also available in a lovely tan colour and white.
These shoes run one quarter to half a size too big, so best to start with your street size or just a bit below. Another benefit of Capezio shoes (and these in particular) is that they rarely need breaking in, so you can wear them straight out of the box.
Oxford Tap Shoes for Women
Bloch Tap-Flex Women’s Tap Shoe
First up on our list of Oxford style tap shoes is this split-sole pair from Bloch. Whether you’ll prefer split or full-sole is personal preference however, I have always found more stability in full-soled tap shoes.
Bloch make dance shoes that still have all the attributes necessary to be someone’s first pair of tap shoes, such as non-slip pad and strong heel counter.
They’re extremely comfortable with Kashmir lining and a notched collar at the heel to prevent rubbing.
These tap shoes are available in Black and Tan and recommendations suggest that they are true to size.
Capezio CG09 Premiere Tap Shoe
Here we have a similar pair of Oxford style tap shoes for women, from Capezio. They’re also made from 100% leather with a leather sole and lace up front.
For added comfort they’re manufactured with a foam-cushioned insole and a rubber non-skid patch on the sole. All of these added features make them perfect tap shoes for beginners.
For those of you that think your feet will be too wide for tap shoes, these are a great choice as you can select the ‘Wide’ size.
Sansha T-Split Tap Shoe
These Oxford tap shoes from Sansha are also great for beginners because they’ve got a small heel (3/4”) and rubber skid pad. The material is 100% leather and they have a split sole.
They do run narrow and small so it’s recommended to buy a couple of sizes up, and perhaps best for those with extra wide feet, to try the Capezio pair above.
As with the many other tap shoes, these are available in either Black or Tan.
Theatricals Neoprene Insert Tap Shoes
“BEST TAP SHOES FOR HIGH ARCHES”
For something a little different, these Neoprene insert tap shoes are a twist on the classic Oxford style. They have no laces and therefore are easy to slip on and off, whilst still having a great fit.
These tap shoes are made with a soft PU leather and available in Black and Tan. Because of the neoprene insert, it makes these one of the best tap shoes for high arches because the soft material matches the shape of your foot.
They do run small though; it’s recommended to buy at 1/2 below your usual street size.
Miller & Ben Black and White Tap Shoes
These high-end tap shoes are professionally designed and manufactured for amazing quality. They’re all leather (upper and sole) and have a one and a quarter inch heel.
These tap shoes are well balances with or without the taps, but come with the taps included and complimentary tap wraps. These are tap shoe covers to protect the shoes when transporting them.
They are much more expensive than the other tap shoes in our list, so wouldn’t recommend buying these tap shoes as a beginner but, it’s good to know what’s on the market!
Best Tap Shoes for Men
Theatricals Men’s Oxford
Theatricals is a well trusted brand for tap dancing shoes and these are a great pair for male beginners. They have cushioned sock lining for added comfort and shock absorption, along with a medium 1-inch heel.
For the price you’re paying, these are some of the best tap dancing shoes for men on the market, for beginners. They’re not the ‘high-end’ best quality but if you’re just starting out and only going to class once a week, than these are a great starter pair.
Because of the price, you’re not getting genuine leather which some may prefer.
Bloch Men’s Tap Shoes
If you’re looking to take tap dancing a bit more seriously, and are keen to invest more money in a durable pair of tap shoes than these are the ones. As discussed previously, Bloch makes good quality, comfortable shoes that last.
They’re made from a soft leather with a leather sole. They also come with cushioned sock-lining for shock absorption and added comfort.
Another reason that these are great tap shoes for beginners is that they’re extremely lightweight so you can strengthen your feet and ankles over time without tiring.
FAQ's: What Color Tap Shoes Should I Buy?
The most popular choice of colour for tap shoes is black. If you’re heading off to your first lesson it’s a safe choice.
However once you’re getting more confidence and wanting to expand your collection; lots of popular brands do all sorts of colors.
FAQ's: What are 'Tap's' Made From?
The actual shoe is constructed like any other jazz or ballroom shoes, the difference is the sole.
They typically have a thick, solid heel with metal taps screwed into the toe and heel of the shoe.
Thank you for reading our review of the best tap shoes for beginners, as we’ve pointed out there are tonnes of brands and styles to choose from. Try to keep the basic points in mind before making a purchase; lightweight, comfortable and a good fit.
If you’re still not convinced that any of these tap shoes are for you, why not try a few lessons in some standard jazz shoes or sneakers. Once you’ve got the basic steps, then you can fork out for some good quality tap shoes. Trust me, you will want a proper pair sooner than you think!
Before heading out to your first class, check out this video for some basic tap steps for beginners.
If you know of an amazing pair of tap shoes for beginners, lease leave us a comment for which style you prefer, to help our other readers.