Why We Love Cubans Heels – But for Which Dances?
Posted: Oct 21 2016
Cuban heels are one of those shoe styles that have many different names and are associated with everyone from Latin dancers to the Beatles, to the bad guys from Mafia films! While they are named for the island in the Caribbean, they may actually be much older. And they are firmly a dancer’s favourite but for which dances are they best?
A Quick History of the Heel
The Cuban heel as we know it is descended from the riding boots worn by, among others, the Mongolians in the 9th century. Chinese rice farmers and even Ancient Egyptian butchers wore similar styles, all aimed at keeping some of their food off the ground (and away from the mess in the latter case). By the 1600s France, they were considered the ultimate fashion accessory and were then stolen by the ladies in the 1980s to give themselves a masculine edge.
While Cuban heels is one common name for the style of shoe, it is also known as Latin heel because it works for so many Latin dancers. And also because the style really didn’t originate with Cuba. Dances such as the cha-cha, the rumba and the samba were done wearing this kind of heel from an early time and as these dances spread around the world, the Cuban heel went with them.
Famous Cuban Heel Wearers
In more recent times, perhaps the most famous wearers of the Cuban heels were the Beatles. In the 1960s, Chelsea boots with Cuban heels were the epitome of fashion and had a sleek look as well as adding a little height for the guys in question. Another famous wearer was the character played by John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. The shoe went out of fashion along with almost everything else in the 1990s when grunge was the order of the day. But in the last decade or so, more people have taken to wearing the styles. One reason is a growing popularity with groups such as Franz Ferdinand and comedian Noel Fielding. The other is, of course, the growing love of dancing.
Dancing in Cuban Heels?
Cuban heels can be worn for more styles of dance than just Latin. For women, the Cuban heel tends to be between one and three inches high, with a 2.5-inch heel being an ideal height for Latin and ballroom dances. Often, these are open toed styles that allow more movement. For men, Cuban heels around 1.5 inches in height are ideal. They tend to be worn most often during competitions rather than just for practices.
As well as Latin dances, Cuban heels are popular for other styles such as Charleston as well as for musical theatre such as a chorus line. This is because the width of the heel gives them a greater stability than thin heels and are also more comfortable to wear. Even if you aren’t used to wearing a heel of this height, feet quickly adapt and an insole can be added for extra comfort.
Click here for a great range of Cuban Heel Dance Shoes for whenever you wear them.