Where are tango dancers supposed to get tango shoes in Ottawa?

Most of this information pertains to women’s shoes, but all of these vendors sell shoes for men as well. Edited September 19, 2022.

When you first start taking tango classes, you’ll find that sneakers or flat shoes or even socks are fine for classes. It’s better to get a sense of the kind of movements tango demands before you invest in shoes.

Even as you take more classes, sneakers and flat dance shoes can still work. But as you start to explore tango and attend tango socials, you may feel the need to fit in (totally legit). Or you may find that your shoes hold you back. Both of which mean it’s time to invest in a pair of Argentine tango shoes. In this post, we’ll give you some tips for choosing your first pair and some links to local(ish) retailers.

For all of our students:

To protect the floor at each of our venues, we require our students to wear “indoor shoes,” meaning that they aren’t ever used for outdoor wear.

For women:

When you first start tango, we simply advise you to wear shoes that strap securely to your feet, have non-marking soles, and are easy to pivot in.

Wear the heel height that is comfortable for you. You don’t have to wear 9 cm heels to be a “real” tango dancer. I personally wear shoes that are 7 to 8 cm. This is the right height for me because I don’t slide into the front of the shoe. In higher heels I also tower over many of the leaders I like to dance with. As you progress in your dance, you can wear higher heels.

(Or not! At Siempre Tango Ottawa, we don’t have a problem with women wearing flats for classes, prácticas, and the milonga. Your priority should be taking care of your feet for a long dancing life.)

The soles of tango shoes are usually made of leather. This is the most versatile surface, and you can pivot on just about anything that’s not rubberized. Some tango shoes have suede soles, which are also good for pivots but require maintenance.

If you find a pair of ballroom or salsa shoes that works for you, no problem! However, women’s shoes made specifically for tango are different:

  • The metal shank in between the insole and the outsole is shorter than that for ballroom shoes.
  • The padding of the insole tends to be thicker.
  • Stabilility in tango shoes comes from attaching the insole, outsole, and heel with both glue and nails throughout.
  • Tango shoes are built to be balanced, meaning that if you stand them up alone on a surface, they shouldn’t tip over or lean to one side.
  • Women’s ballroom shoes have a certain “look” or profile that is different from a women’s tango shoe.

Investing in quality tango shoes means that they are more stable and less likely to pinch you. They should fit you well right out of the box. (However, I’ve found that “sparkly” material and patent leather break in more slowly. The upside is that these materials keep their shape for longer.)

For men:

When you first start learning tango, you won’t need to pivot so much, so shoe choice is less of an issue. However, as you continue your tango journey, you will actually need to pivot to lead turns and to do more interesting moves. And if you learn to follow from the beginning, you’ll need to be able pivot right away.

If you ever need to force a pivot, save your knees and invest in dance shoes!

Lots of men I know in tango use ballroom shoes, particularly if they have wide feet. Other men I know are very happy with their purpose-made tango shoes. The idea is that the shoe is meant to look like a formal shoe but be flexible and lighter.

The giveaway that you are not wearing dance shoes is if the outsole (the bottom part) sticks out beyond the toe – for practical reasons, you shouldn’t wear these because you are more likely to accidentally make contact with the follower’s toes.

Where to buy shoes:

Practice flats and men’s shoes

I like to support local businesses, so you can find jazz shoes, ballet flats, dance sneakers, and men’s dance shoes at Brio or Malabar.

(Got another dance shoe store in Ottawa that you like? Let us know.)

High heels and custom shoes for men and women

There is no dedicated tango shoe seller in Ottawa for now. For the most part, we turn to our friends in Montreal to buy new shoes. The vendors that we mention below sell men’s and women’s shoes.

  • Line Desrosiers is a tango shoe seller in Montreal. Her shop is called Tango Sublime. She sells Italian brands like Tangolera (known for the extra padding in the sole), Madame Pivot, and Regina. She is also on Facebook. (Note: My preferred brand is Tangolera because they can take a beating and they fit me very well out of the box.)
  • Our friends at Stella Mary Creations sell D’Raso shoes. Stella sets up shop at Studio Tango in Montreal. You can make a custom order also and contact her on Facebook to make a request. (Note: I have not personally tried these shoes, but I know many people who like them.)
  • Our friends at Montango have a small boutique which is open during their events or by appointment.

(While it is possible to order shoes from most brands online, such as Strictly for Dancers or Axis Tango, we strongly suggest that you try shoes on in person from an in-person vendor first to know your sizes in each brand. Each brand has its quirks, e.g. “This model is not good for wide feet, but this one is – in fact, you should order a different size.” So our best advice would actually be to make a trip to Montreal and see Line or Stella. Your feet will thank you!)

We hope you find this information useful!

UPDATED Aug. 14: Our Tuesday Milonga is on the Road this Summer!

Because our fave venue at allsaints Event Space is being used as a film location for several weeks, the Tuesday Milonga is following a modified schedule.

July 16 and 30, and August 27:

We will be hosting a fun, intimate milonga at Bistro Alégria on:

July 16 (6:30 – 10:30 PM)
July 30 (doors open at 6:30 PM, music goes from 7 – 11 PM)
August 27 (doors open at 6:30 PM, music goes from 7 – 11 PM)

Parking: At 15 Leduc Street behind Bistro Alégria. Free after 5:00 PM Monday to Friday and all day Saturday and Sunday.

There will be tapas for sale, and the bar is open. Come dance with us after work in Gatineau this month!

July 23:

We are offering a special workshop on Back Sacadas:

When: 7:00 – 8:15 PM
Where: 235 Montreal Road
How much: $25 per person

Space for 3 to 4 couples max. Please contact Francis to reserve your spot soon.

August 6, 13, and 20:

It’s time to bring tango back to the Byward Market. We’ll be at Alpha Art Gallery (531 Sussex Drive), from 7:30 to 11:00 PM. Cover is $10 / $8 for full-time university students.

Special Request

Please enter Alpha through the rear entrance, which you can access by taking Clarendon Lane and passing through the courtyard shared by different restaurants. You will see a sitting area where you can change your shoes and place your bags.

UPDATED: Our Sunday Práctica is moving temporarily this July and August.

Bate Hall will be used for a filming project this summer, so we have found an alternative venues for some upcoming prácticas.

Come experience one of our favourite floors in the city at the Ottawa Dance Directive’s Studio B (2 Daly Avenue). The práctica is at its usual time, from 7:00 – 9:30 PM.

(This venue change also applies to the Tango 3 class that precedes the práctica at 6:00 PM.)

  • July 21 – Guided práctica
  • July 28 – Goodbye practilonga for Melina Mistral
  • August 4 – Guided práctica
  • August 11 – Guided práctica
  • August 18 – Guided práctica
  • August 25 – Guided práctica

Directions to the room

To reach Studio B, enter Arts Court from the main Daly Ave. entrance and turn left after the reception desk. Pass through the double doors.

  • You can take Elevator A to the 2nd floor. Look for signs for ODD (Ottawa Dance Directive). Turn left getting off the elevator.
  • You can walk through the door labeled “EXIT” and enter the stairwell through the door marked D. Go all the way up to “2nd Floor A” and you will see the ODD to your right.
  • Don’t worry: we will have signs everywhere directing you!

Parking suggestions

You can use paid parking at Rideau Centre or the Novotel, but it’s we suggest taking advantage of free weekend street parking east of Arts Court and around Byward Market. Try Nicholas, Daly, Cumberland, Wilbrod, Dalhousie, Besserer, and Stewart. (Use Parkopedia and enter the date and time window to find options.)

Also, free parking at City Hall is a 10-minute walk away.

We look forward to seeing you at the Práctica!

Here’s to Mary Ellen!

The team at Siempre Tango would like to celebrate one of our own: Mary Ellen Hurd. She has decided to hang up her Argentine tango teaching shoes following the Spring 2019 Session.

We have been unimaginably lucky and grateful to have had such dedicated and talented teacher working with us for 19 of our 21 years of operation.

Please join us at the Red and White Milonga on June 30th as we say “Thank you” to this wonderful teacher. If you’ve taken classes with her in the past, or if you haven’t come to see us for a while, be sure to attend!

If it sounds like this is a send-off, not to worry: Mary Ellen has way too many pairs of tango shoes to show off so she will definitely continue to grace the dance floor as only she can! We look forward to her honoring us with that mischievous smile which never fails to light up a whole room and the sunshine that always she seems to trail behind her!

Nous aurons une Milonga spéciale le mardi 19 février.

*** Edit: En raison de la tempête de neige du 12 février, nous avons reporté cet événement au 19 février. Désolé pour le dérangement. ***

  • La milonga débutera à 20 h 30.
  • Des amuses gueules et du chocolate seront servis.
  • Il y aura un bar payant.
  • Code vestimentaire (optionnel): Couleurs brillantes, style funky / retro, cheveux volumineux. (Regardez ceci pour l’inspiration.)
  • Il y aura un prix pour la “Meilleur danse de Cortina.” Soyez prêt avec vos pas “non-tango“!
  • Prix d’entrées: 15 $ en avance jusqu’au 10 février. 20 $ à la porte.

On se verra sur la piste de danse!

We’re having a Special Milonga on Tuesday, February 19.

*** Edit: Because of the February 12 snowstorm, we postponed this event until February 19th. Sorry for any inconvenience! ***

  • We’ll start at 8:30 PM.
  • Light finger foods and chocolate treats will be provided.
  • There will be a cash bar.
  • Dress code (optional): Bright colours, funky / retro style, big hair. (Watch this for inspiration.)
  • There will be a prize given for “Best Cortina Dancing.” Get your non-tango moves ready!
  • Cover: $15 in advance until Feb. 10. $20 at the door.

See you on the dance floor!

Joyeuses fêtes à vous de Siempre Tango!

Merci à tous nos étudiants et tous les danseurs pour votre appui en 2018.

Nous espérons que vous pourrez vous joindre à Siempre Tango pour la période des fêtes et pour la nouvelle année.

Il n’y aura pas de práctica le 23 décembre; il n’y aura pas de milonga le 25 décembre
Joyeux temps des fêtes.

Milonga de fin d’année: Le 30 décembre de 18 h 30 à 22 h 30
Amorcez les célébrations de la nouvelle année plus tôt. Il y aura des amuses-gueules et un bar payant. Prix d’entrée: 15$. SVP, confirmez votre présence, ça sera plus facile d’avoir la bonne quantité d’amuses-gueules.

La Milonga des résolutions: Le mardi 1er janvier de 20 h 30 à minuit.
Débutez l’année 2019 du bon pied. Prix d’entrée: 10$. (Il y aura un cours d’essai gratuit pour débutant à 19 h 00 avant la milonga. Si vous emmenez une nouvelle personne à ce cours de débutant, payé seulement $5 pour la milonga.)

Les cours d’essais gratuits en janvier.
Nous offrirons des classes d’essais gratuits les 1, 6, 7 et 8 janvier. Aidez-nous à rendre le 20e anniversaire de Siempre Tango l’un des meilleurs jusqu’à maintenant!

La práctica du dimanche recommencera le 7 janvier.
La musique commence à 19 H. Commencez 2019 sur une bonne note.

Notre horaire des cours est maintenant disponible.Les cours débuteront le 9 janvier 2019. Visitez notre site internet pour voir l’horaire complète. Contactez Francis pour réserver votre place aujourd’hui.

Nous avons hâte de célébrer notre 20e anniversaire avec vous en 2019!

Happy Holidays from Siempre Tango!

Thank you to all of our students and patrons for your support throughout 2018.

We hope you’ll be able to join us this holiday season and beyond.

No practica on December 23; no milonga on December 25.
Happy Holidays!

Year-End Milonga: December 30, 6:30 to 10:30 PM. 
Kick off your New Year’s celebration early. There will be finger food and a cash bar. Cover: $15. Please confirm your presence; it will be easier to have enough food for everyone.

The Resolution Milonga: January 1, 8:30 PM to midnight
Start 2019 on the right foot. Cover: $10. (There will be a free class for beginners before the milonga at 7:00 PM. If you bring a new person to the beginner class, pay just $5 for the milonga.)

Trial Classes in January.
We’ll be offering free beginner classes on January 1, 6, 7, and 8. Help us make Siempre Tango’s 20th year the best one yet!

The Sunday Práctica resumes January 6.
Music starts at 7:00 PM. Start 2019 on a high note.

Our Class Schedule is available now.
Classes begin Wednesday, January 9, 2019. Visit our website to see the full schedule. Contact Francis to reserve your spot today.

We look forward to celebrating our 20th anniversary year with you in 2019!

À venir en novembre et décembre 2018…

Tomás Howlin viendra à Ottawa prochainement. Inscrivez-vous aujourd’hui! 

La date limite des inscriptions hâtives pour les ateliers de Tomás Howlin est le dimanche 25 novembre. Inscrivez-vous et payez à l’avance à la milonga du mardi ou à la práctica du dimanche pour réserver votre place. Pour voir tous les détails et les prix, visiter la page de l’événement.

En novembre:

  • Étudiants de la session en cours: Si vous planifiez de continuer les cours la prochaine session, SVP, dite-le à Francis.
  • N’oubliez pas que la Milonga est gratuite pour tous les étudiants de Tango 1 jusqu’au 27 novembre.
  • Un rappel: Une milonga est comme votre animal adoré. Si vous voulez le garder vivant, vous devez l’alimenter régulièrement!

En décembre: 

  • Dimanche le 2 décembre à 18 h: Les fins des tangos
    Un atelier pour tous les niveaux. Explorez les idées pour avoir exactement ces fins musicales. Un prix spécial de fin d’année! Atelier seulement: 15 $. Atelier + práctica: 20 $.
  • Le mardi 4 décembre à 19 h: La Milonga Primera
    Pour tous ceux qui ont complété tango 1, 2 ou 3, mais qui ne se sont pas sentis assez prêt pour venir à la milonga du mardi. Pour plus de détails, cliquer ici.
  • Le mardi 4 décembre à 20 h: Le bal de neige
    Il y aura de la nourriture et des tandas chaudes pour commencer la saison des fêtes. Habillez-vous pour faire sensation. Stella de Montréal sera présente avec ses magnifiques souliers et vêtements de tango. Les billets sont 15 $ jusqu’au 27 novembre. 20 $ après le 27.
  • Le mardi 18 décembre à 20 h: Bytown Tango Band
    Les billets à l’avance seront vendus à 15 $ jusqu’au 11 décembre. 20 $ après le 11 décembre. 5 $ pour les gens qui ne dansent pas. Contactez-nous pour obtenir plus d’information.

Nous avons hâtes de vous voir tous bientôt!

Coming soon in November and December 2018…

Tomás Howlin is coming to Ottawa soon. Register today! 

Early Bird deadline for Tomás Howlin’s workshops is on Sunday, November 25th. Pre-register and pre-pay at the Tuesday Milonga to reserve your spot. For full details and pricing, visit our the event page.

This November:

  • Current students: If you plan on continuing classes next session, please let Francis know.
  • Don’t forget that the Tuesday Milonga is free for all Tango 1 students until November 27th.
  • A reminder: A milonga is like a beloved pet. If you want it to stay alive, you must feed it regularly!

This December: 

  • Sunday, December 2 at 6:00 PM: Tango Endings
    An all-levels workshop. Explore ideas for nailing those endings musically. Special end-of-year pricing! Workshop only: $15. Workshop + práctica: $20.
  • Tuesday, December 4 at 7:00 PM: La Milonga Primera
    For those who have completed Tango 1, 2, or 3, but haven’t felt “ready enough” to come to the Tuesday Milonga. For more details, click here.
  • Tuesday, December 4 at 8:00 PM: The Snow Ball 
    Food and warm tandas to start the holiday season. Dress to impress. Stella from Montreal will be there with gorgeous tango shoes and clothes. Advanced tickets for $15 until November 27. $20 after the 27th.
  • Tuesday, December 18 at 8:00 PM: Bytown Tango Band
    Advanced tickets will be sold for $15 until December 11. $20 after the 11th. $5 for non-dancers. Message us for more details.

We look forward to seeing all of you soon!