Tap Shoe Guide
Bloch has been the innovation leader in dance shoes for nearly a century. Our tap shoes can be found on the feet of professionals in the dance industry across the globe. Bloch provides a superior craft in dance shoes—perfect for students, teachers and masters.
Bloch tap shoes are perfectly designed and customised to provide for any age and proficiency level. With Kashmir lining and AAA-grade leather available, Bloch tap shoes are the go-to for tap dancing professionals and students alike, thanks to their quality, comfort and – most importantly – sound!
From the anatomy of tap shoes to choosing the most comfortable size, here is our guide to tap shoes.
What is a Tap Shoe Made of?
The anatomy and materials that make up a tap shoe are designed to provide the perfect tap sound while accommodating the tap dancer. Although there are many different variations of the tap shoe, common tap shoe components are listed below.
Tap shoes have a heel on the rear of the shoe. The heel can vary greatly in height depending on dancer preferences, shoe style and dance style. For example, theatrical performers may wear a tap shoe with a higher heel when playing a feminine character. Tap shoe heels are commonly made up of wood or stacked leather to provide stability for the dancer. Heels are usually one or more inches high.
The toe box is located on the front of the tap shoe, and it works to cover and protect the dancer’s toes. The toe box is made of thick material which reinforces the toes and allows dancers to facilitate quick, powerful movements with the front of their feet. The toe box helps contribute to the full, deep sound made when dancing.
The topline of a tap shoe is the edge that runs along the opening of the shoe. Like the heel, the topline can vary depending on the style of the tap shoe and preference of the dancer. For example, a lower topline means the shoe will not come up as high, allowing for more ankle flexibility. A higher topline will keep the ankle more stable.
The taps are often the most well-known component of a tap shoe, as it provides the sound associated with tap dancing. A single tap shoe consists of two taps, which are the metal pieces located under the heel and under the toes. The taps are responsible for the depth and pitch of the sound made when tap dancing. Taps range in quality, thickness and materials, but are often made up of some type of metal. Bloch offers different taps formulated from composite alloy to create a distinct, rich sound. While we sell tap shoes with taps included, you can also buy taps separately. If you’re wondering how to put taps on shoes, our taps come with nails and screws included.
What are the different types of tap shoes?
All styles of tap shoes are specifically designed to meet the range of needs, material preferences, dance styles and foot sizes of different dancers. Tap shoe styles include the Mary Jane, Oxford, character heels and boots, which all feature different materials and shoe elements. Listed below are common tap shoe soles and fastenings, as well as information on what functionality you can expect with each shoe.
Tap Shoe Soles
What is a full sole tap shoe?
Full sole tap shoes have a continuous base material on the underside of the shoes. The full, hard soles ensure correct foot and ankle support for dancers.
What is a split sole tap shoe?
Split sole tap shoes are similar to split sole jazz shoes – but with taps attached. Split sole tap shoes are flexible because the base, or underside, of the shoe does not have continuous material. Instead, there is a gap in material under the arch of the foot.
Tap Shoe Fastening
Slip on tap shoes
Slip on tap shoes typically have a split sole. A slip on fastening allows dancers to slide the shoe on without having to take the time to tie laces and adjust the shoe’s pressure on the foot.
Lace up tap shoes
Tap shoes with a lace up fastening, or shoelaces, make a great unisex tap shoe for beginners, intermediates, advanced and professional dancers. Lace up fastenings give dancers the ability to tighten or loosen their tap shoes based on preference and foot width.
Buckle tap shoes
Buckle tap shoe fastenings are often seen on women and girls tap shoes, as it makes up the fastening on the Mary Jane shoe style. Buckled fastenings help the dancer move on the ball of their foot in higher heeled shoes.
What Size Tap Shoe Should I Buy?
Like ballet and jazz shoes, tap shoes must fit accurately in order to serve the dancer properly. A snug fit is optimal for shock absorption, tap precision and a better sound quality when dancing. It is best for tap shoes to feel tighter rather than looser, as tap shoes will mold to your feet as you continue to wear them.
While tap shoes should feel firm on the feet, it is important to recognise if the shoes are too tight. If the shoe is hurting the side of your feet, that is a good indicator that the shoe is too narrow. If toes are bending, curling or overlapping when the shoe is worn, that indicates the dancer needs to try a bigger size.
Tap shoes should be durable without compromising comfort. For more information on sizing and conversion charts, visit our BLOCH size guide.
How Can I Make my Tap Shoes Less Slippery?
Tap shoes may feel slippery when dancing if the shoes are new or worn out. Slippery tap shoes can be very dangerous, as it is possible to injure yourself or others by slipping and falling. If you’re looking to purchase new tap shoes that won’t feel slippery, Bloch offers tap shoes with a non-slip pro balance rubber pad. The technology provides a secure grip to prevent slipping and levels the sole for better balance.
Listed below are additional tips to make your existing tap shoes feel less slippery.
Break the shoes out safely
New tap shoes can often feel slippery because the metal taps have not been broken in yet. Breaking in tap shoes by wearing them around the dance studio or on safe surfaces in your home may assist in improving the shoe’s traction.
Check the taps and screws
Worn out taps are a common reason tap shoes feel slippery. Regularly check your metal taps, which are located on the underside of the shoe. If the taps show significant signs of wear, it may be time to replace the taps or shoes. Tap shoes may also feel slippery if the screws holding the taps in place become loose. Loose screws can damage dance floors as well. It is recommended to ask for expert assistance when checking or screwing in the taps.
Check the dance floor
In some cases, tap shoes may feel slippery because the dance floor is slippery. If you think that the dance floor you are dancing on could be the reason your tap shoes feel slippery, it’s important to speak to your instructor or a studio representative. Dirty, dusty, wet or waxy floors can feel slippery to dance on.
Try Rosin spray
To reduce slipping, apply Bloch non-slip professional rosin spray to the soles of your shoe to increase traction against the floor. The product can be used on a variety of dance shoes, adding friction between the shoe and the floor and increasing the grip of the feet. Bloch rosin spray can also be used to secure ribbon and clothing.
Ask an expert
If you are still experiencing problems with slippery tap shoes, it is recommended to ask for expert assistance to avoid injuries. Your dance instructor may be familiar with your brand of tap shoes or taps and can offer additional advice and tips. Dancers may also visit one of our Bloch stores for an anti-slip tap shoe professional fitting, Bloch taps adjustment or Bloch taps instalment by our highly trained staff. Bloch store locations can be found on our store locator page.
How to Clean Tap Shoes
Tap shoes should stay pretty clean, especially as they’ll only be worn indoors. However, you might occasionally notice scruffs or marks, which will mean you want to clean your shoes.
How to clean your tap shoes depends on the shoe's material. If you’re looking to remove scuffs from leather shoes, a renovating polish or standard leather cleaner can be applied with a soft cloth. Patent tap shoes can also be gently cleaned with a wet wipe or damp cloth. Canvas or fabric shoes can be spot cleaned – we recommend using a cloth dampened with a mild detergent.
How to Fix Tap Shoes
Over time, you may notice the tap on your tap shoe loosening. This is often nothing to worry about – taps attached with screws are designed to loosen slightly over time, which helps create a clearer sound when you dance.
However, if you can feel the tap moving up and down when you move, it’s likely the tap needs tightening. You can do this easily with a twist or two, taking care not to over tighten as this can damage the hole holding the screw in place.
If you find your taps are constantly loosening or the tap detaches, it may be time to look into new tap shoes. Many beginners or cheaper tap shoes can deteriorate quickly if worn a lot, or used by higher-level dancers, so we’d recommend switching them out for professional quality tap shoes – like the ones you can find at Bloch!
About BLOCH Tap Shoes
From premium materials to hand-made, artisanal construction, quality is in every shoe we create. Bloch leads the way as the ultimate dancewear destination. We strive to equip you or your child with the tools and confidence to dance courageously and beautifully.
Bloch offers a wide selection of tap shoes for all dancers, including men, women and children. Many of our styles also offer a variety of material and colour options. Whether you’re picking out your very first pair of tap shoes, or picking out the perfect pair for a performance in a world renowned production, Bloch has the right shoe for you—wherever you are in your dance journey.