So, you’ve decided to take tap classes, great! Maybe you’re a complete beginner, or perhaps you took class as a child and want to get back into it, either way you couldn’t have chosen a better dance style! Tap dancing is amazing physical exercise, but you’ll be having so much fun you won’t even think of it as working out!
As with most dance styles, the shoes you wear are by far the most important item you’ll need for class. This is even more true with tap, as you cannot dance without tap dance shoes (by comparison you may be able to get away with socks for a ballet or jazz class if you forgot shoes one day…although it’s not recommended as a habit). Ask any dancer and they’ll give you an entire speech on their favorite shoes and how they evaluate a pair.
Thus, you’ll want the best tap shoes for your feet.
Lucky for you, in this guide we’ve broken down what to look for in a pair of tap shoes, different types and features and for those of you with little spare time, the top tap shoes in the UK right now!
What to look for in a pair of tap shoes
No matter what category of athletics, or style of dance you partake in, whether ballet or boxing, you must ensure the shoes fits correctly. If you buy the wrong size or style for your feet you risk pain, injury or potentially souring yourself against exercise.
It can be easy to get caught up in the “look” of a pair of tap shoes, but don’t get sidetracked, make sure the shoes feel right on your feet.
Tap shoes are either worn with socks or a light pair of tights, so it’s always a good idea to bring some along when shoe shopping. If you forget, dance stores will often have some in the shoe department that you can borrow, so just ask! It’s not recommended to buy a pair if you’ve only tried them on barefoot, so try and remember foot coverings instead of relying on the dance store!
Wearing socks and/or tights also prolongs the life of shoes and provides extra cushion for your feet.
Tap is all about details and intricate footwork, so you don’t want the shoes too tight and restrictive. Best practise is for it to fit fairly snug, without pinching or pain. There shouldn’t be much (if any) room in the toe box and the heel should be low for maximum support.
It’s best to point and flex your feet, and even do a few small moves when trying on a pair. If anything pinches or hurts that’s a red flag, and if the shoe feels like it’s slipping off, that will also be a no.
Size is also important and can differ from your regular shoe size.
Some tap shoes may follow regular shoe sizes and you’ll be able to order exactly what you would for “street shoes”. Some may follow a slightly adjusted size chart, and some may just recommend ordering up or down a size or half size. Make sure to check the fit guide for each product and read reviews to get an idea if a particular shoe runs smaller or larger.
Also note that tap shoes will come in a variety of width options; narrow, normal, medium and wide. Most shoes only have one choice (which helps a lot – if you require wide shoes, don’t buy ones that only come in the narrow width), however some may come in multiple width options. Check your order carefully to avoid poor fit!
Mary Jane vs. Oxford
The main two styles of tap shoes differ and while neither is necessarily “better”, your feet will likely prefer one over the other.
The main difference is in how the shoe is fastened.
Mary Jane shoes are secured by a single strap that fastens with a buckle or lace. Thanks to the simple design these are typically recommended as the best tap shoes for beginners. You’ll also see most kid’s tap shoes in this style. However, no matter what your experience level, this style is perfect for anyone wanting a slip on style.
Oxford shoes are fully lace-up, and are the style of choice for advanced and professional tap dancers. Laces allow for more “adjustable” shoes as you can tighten or loosen the fit.
In the end it’s up to you to determine what feels best, and it may take a few tries in the store or in class to figure out the best style for your feet.
All tap shoes will come with some sort of heel (no one wants a flat shoe for tap!), however, there will be variations in height. So how do you choose what’s right for you?
Tap shoe heels are usually 1cm – 5cm.
For beginners, especially if you don’t wear heels outside of dance, we recommend nothing higher than 2cm. As you gain strength and technique you can slowly build yourself up to a higher heel.
If you’re a former tap dancer who’s been out of practice (and thus not a complete beginner) you may prefer a higher “starting” height.
Best bet is when in doubt stick to a low heel, but in the end go with what feels most comfortable and supportive.
Cushioning & Support
The best tap shoes will have decent cushioning that provides a bit of a “memory mould” of your feet. Think of it as a foot I.D. for your tap dance shoes, the cushioning provides comfort and support while the mould ensures it’s a perfect fit for your foot.
In addition to cushioning, it’s very important that your arch and heel are supported by your tap dance shoes. These are the most used areas of the foot in tap, and you’ll want them supported accordingly.
Best Tap Dance Shoes in the UK
In a hurry? Click here to jump straight to our top picks!
Roch Valley Black Tap Shoes
Looking for a great tap shoe for yourself or your child? Then the Roch Valley Black tap shoe is perfect for you! The Mary Jane style ensures with lace tie finish ensures an easy and cute way of securing the shoe.
This tap dance shoe has a 4cm heel, perfect for experienced children all the way up to professional level. The PU material is durable yet practical and easy to clean! Available in children’s and adult sizes.
Bloch 301L Black Jazz Tap Shoe
The Bloch 301L Black Jazz tap shoe is one of the best beginner tap shoes. The Oxford style with secured with adjustable laces provide flexibility in fit. The leather material and secured toe taps are stylish, yet supportive.
The 2.5cm heel is great height for tap dancing, without being too high or intimidating for those just starting out. The medium width and adjustable laces ensure a great fit!
Roch Valley Low Heel Tap Shoe
The Roch Valley Low Heel tap shoe is perfect if you want a cute shoe with some personality. The Mary Jane style, PU material and medium width makes it an easy fit while two colour choices and ribbon secured at the top give it a cute look.
You also can’t beat the price, great value for beginners! Make sure to note this shoe tends to run small!
- Mary Jane style
- PU material
- Low heel
- Medium width
- 2 colours (white, black)
Bloch Economy Jazz Tap Shoe
The Bloch Women’s Economy Jazz tap shoe is definitely one of the most stylish on the market. The matte synthetic leather material gives the shoe a well-finished look and the lace-up style looks lovely on any foot.
The padded insole and 2.5cm (1inch) heel means ultimate comfort while the half sized options ensure you’ll find the perfect fit!
- Oxford style
- Synthetic leather material
- Padded insole
- 2.5cm heel
- Half size options
Roch Valley Oxford Jazz Tap Shoe
If you’re a beginner, the Roch Valley Oxford Jazz tap dance shoe is the perfect footwear to get your tap dancing career started! The Oxford style ensures stability and the 2 cm heel height and normal width provides maximum comfort.
The fitted heel and toe taps give dancers just starting out complete control and security. These are perfect shoes for all levels who want a bit more “wow” on their dancing feet! Available in children’s and adult sizes.
- Oxford style
- PU material
- Fitted toe and heel taps
- 2cm heel height
- Normal width
Bloch 3710 Black Economy Jazz Tap Shoe
The Bloch 3710 Black Economy Jazz tap shoe is the perfect shoe for dancers who want maximum flexibility in their feet. The leather Oxford style tap shoe has fitted heel and toe taps, ensuring comfort and preventing confusion for newer dancers.
The low heel height is just right! This shoe is great for any level of tap dancer who want a flexible shoe!
- Oxford style
- Synthetic material
- Fitted heel and toe taps
- Normal width
Bloch Maud Tap ShoeNo products found.
The Bloch Maud tap shoe is a wonderful piece of engineering and art! The taps and bottom are completely metal, ensuring a wonderful “tap” sound that’s easy to get your “sweet” spot when tapping.
These are perfect for experienced tap dancers, the Oxford style and rubber sole ensures comfort with an easy 2.5cm heel.
No products found.
Bloch Respect Leather Tap Shoe
Are you an intermediate tap dancer in need of the perfect shoe to move up levels? Then look no further than the Bloch Respect leather tap shoe.
The Oxford style and leather material give it a classic look, while the block heel is great for those with a bit more experience. The non-slip toe provides security for more experienced dancers.
Tips & FAQs for Use
Care & Upkeep of Tap Shoes
Unlike other types of dance and street shoes, DO NOT under any circumstances wash your tap dance shoes in a machine. The laces, buckles, metal soles and leather material are not meant to be put in a washer.
If your tap dance shoes are scuffed or need a clean, use a soft, damp cloth to wipe away any debris, if the shoes are scuffed, leather cleaner is also a good choice. Also make sure to examine shoes regularly and use a screwdriver to tighten any loose pieces in the metal soles.
As for the inside of the shoe, as with any dance shoe, they will likely acquire a bit of an odor after a few classes of hard work! Don’t worry, you can prevent this with insoles that help mop up sweat, or sprinkle some baking soda inside your shoes overnight.
The MOST important thing you can do however to ensure your tap dance shoes stay in great shape is to make sure they stay dry. Keep them in a dry, well-ventilated area and don’t use too much liquid when cleaning!
When trying a new shoe, always order two sizes; what you think is the correct size and a half size bigger/smaller depending on how the shoe runs (read reviews) as this varies between tap dance shoes. If you can’t find any information, note they will more often than not run small. Same goes for width if you’re conflicted between two options.
Remember patience with sizing is key, especially if you’re just starting out. It may take a while to find the best shoe and fit.
Best Tap Shoes UK – Our Top Picks
Our pick for the best beginner tap shoe is the Bloch 301L Black Jazz Tap Shoe. The low 2.5cm heel is perfect for tap dancers just starting out, while the secured toe tap provides stability and comfort for those that haven’t danced before.
For those a bit more experienced our pick for the best pre/professional tap shoe is the Bloch Respect Leather Tap Shoe . The all leather tap shoe with block heel and stitched in counter provides stability for advanced dancers that want a strong shoe, but know how to stay limber while dancing. The cashmere lining and shock absorption provide maximum comfort and prevent injury for experienced tappers dancing multiple times a week.
And finally, our pick for best overall tap shoe is the Bloch Economy Jazz Tap Shoe. The matt synthetic material is extremely durable and stylish, while the padded insole provides comfort for all levels of dancing feet. The 2.5cm heel is perfect for any level of tap dancer and the option of half sizes ensures you’ll find the perfect fit!
Last update on 2020-10-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API