What are Flamenco Shoes?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Flamenco shoes are a type of shoe worn to perform dances to the Spanish Flamenco music style that has delighted audiences for centuries. The term "flamenco shoes" usually refers to women’s shoes, because in most flamenco dances, men more properly wear boots. The nails in the heels and toes are what make these shoes special, because they allow the dancers to use their feet as percussive instruments that complement and enhance the music.

Flamenco shoes should have a supportive heel.
Flamenco shoes should have a supportive heel.

When They're Needed

Someone who is starting flamenco dance lessons might not need these special shoes right away. Most companies that teach flamenco dance to beginners merely recommend the use of a sturdy shoe. Flamenco shoes are almost always high-heeled, so a good jazz or ballroom dance shoe usually is a start in the right direction. For someone who continues with dancing, however, it’s vital to get the appropriate shoes, because so much of flamenco dancing depends on using the nails and taps to create a rhythm.


The typical women's flamenco shoe is most often available in black or red and looks very much like a high-heeled jazz shoe. The shoe has a sturdy heel of about 1-2 inches (2.54-5.08 cm) in height. Essentially, the heel of the shoe provides almost total support underneath the heel of the foot. It’s very important for this heel to be durable, because one of the common problems with flamenco shoes is the heel breaking off if the dance becomes too vigorous.

Commonly, the shoe looks much like a pump with a roomy and rounded toe box, and it has a strap over the top of the foot to keep the shoe securely in place. Fancier flamenco shoes might have ties instead of straps, and some even have ties that cross the foot, then lace up above the ankle. Unless the shoes are being used for a special costume, the best choice might be a pair of black flamenco shoes with a simple ankle strap. A strap that is slightly elasticized will provide a more secure hold to the foot.

Shoe Shopping

Many people purchase these shoes from makers in Spain, where the shoes are often at least partially handmade or custom made. Surprisingly, even handmade flamenco shoes are not terribly expensive, although shipping might be. Flamenco shoes and flamenco boots can be ordered over the Internet. A person who wants to buy these shoes might consult with a dance instructor regarding the best brands. Teachers of flamenco dance are often most knowledgeable about the types of shoes that will provide the longest wear and best comfort.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


Are there any places that you all know of that sell used flamenco shoes and dance clothes?

I am thinking about joining a flamenco dance class, and I really want to have all the right equipment, but that stuff is expensive!

I mean, if you google "flamenco shoes for sale", you're talking hundreds of dollars!

So are there any little corners of the web that I may have missed where you can find decent, used flamenco shoes without paying a ton?

I would be forever grateful!


Did you know that they have special mens flamenco shoes too? I was researching Spanish flamenco shoes for a client, and I found out that not only do women have specially designed flamenco shoes, men do too.

They look almost like boots with a little bit of a heel on them. They only come up to the ankle though, so they're not super sturdy. Not hiking boots by any stretch of the imagination.

They also tend to be a little tight around the ankle to provide support. So basically, imagine a woman's flamenco shoe with a thicker heel and higher ankle support.

After reading about them though, I can totally understand why you would need specifically designed flamenco dance shoes -- that dancing can be killer on your feet and ankles! Without a good shoe, you could easily turn your ankle, or even damage your feet permanently.


Flamenco shoes make really great character shoes as well. They are solid enough to stand up to dancing (obviously), but also all the walking around and weird stuff that you do on a stage.

Besides, the heel is not too terribly high, so you're less likely to trip yourself while using them.

I've actually used a pair of Capezio flamenco shoes for my character shoes for ages, and I've never had anybody say anything negative about it.

So just keep that in mind next time you're looking for character shoes, because sometimes you can find flamenco shoes in better sizes, or even cheaper than you can find character shoes.

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