Your choice of pole dancing shoes will affect your feet, back, routine, dance, ability to climb the pole and can be the dynamite or destruction of your routine! And guess what? Your heels are your new sexy gym shoes!
Low quality heels can break under you and it has happened to dancers before! Shock absorbency is also included in a platform heel which can help your feet out if you have a long night of dancing ahead.
Heels come in various heel heights ranging from 4" to 10"; all colors and different textures such as plastic, leather, fabric and metal studded. I prefer the vinyl because it helps you stick to the pole better when climbing or using your shoes when inverting or performing tricks.
These heels are also surprisingly comfortable; they are designed to be on a dancers feet for hours and I have used them when going out to a club to dance and it seemed almost as if the thick plastic base absorbs most of the shock of your bodyweight. The insoles are padded and the ends rounded to not get caught when moving and pivoting.
A note about the weight of shoes: careful when learning to spin or invert that you don't take a piece of skin out of your leg with that sharp heel! The weight helps get a deeper stretch when inverting and it helps give a little more momentum when spinning.
I think the best shoes for climbing the pole are thigh high vinyl boots. A lot of competitions will exclude boots from being used because of this...and some call us "cheater" if we use them for helping us stick to the pole! I do agree that you should learn to climb the pole first with just your bare legs to build your strength, and NOT rely on the grip of vinyl to help you stick or learn to climb.
I have a black 6" heel pair from Pleaser and I feel like Superwoman in them! I stick incredibly well to the pole to climb and invert and I use them when I am learning a new inverted move because I hold so well with them.
Heels come in so many different colors and styles...they also come with the stripper "tips" slot in the platform and with lights that glow and flash as well!
Another option, next to bare feet and plastic pole dancing shoes/heels, is to use trainers for extended periods of pole training. These are a little less 'grippier' than bare feet or pole dancing heels, but if you choose full leather or plastic, they will do the 'trick'!
Adidas has a good selection of trainers and one type that works well is the Fluid Trainer that comes in leather. There are several other types but you don't want a pair that has fabric on it because your feet will slip on the pole.
Puma also makes trainers that come in leather or plastic that will also work well.
Because trainers don't provide the grip that bare feet or pole heels do it is best to not use these if you are trying a new trick.
The best way to start out pole dancing, in my opinion, is with bare feet. The point of contact between your foot and the pole is not large but it is important help for climbing and inverting and in some poses and tricks your a large portion of your body weight will be held by that small point of contact on your feet! So it is very important then to what is on - or not on - your feet during pole dancing.
Your feet can give your body feedback that you cannot feel through plastic or leather. Your feet gripping and helping you climb on the pole with also help you get that feel of being on it...it almost becomes an extension of you!
Skin does grip amazingly well on a metal dance pole as long as they are not sweaty or coated with moisturizer. You can use a bit of chalk or one of the many grip aids to alleviate perspiration or create tackiness/stickiness on the skin.
If you are just starting out feeling what pole dancing is all about, you need to try this barefoot without the added distraction of higher-than-high heels to balance in. Also with bare feet you won't have to worry about scratching our pole!
The downside of being barefoot is that you can bruise your feet and get carpet burn if you are working out on a carpeted floor. So in this case, shoes would protect your skin.
Choosing to dance barefoot, in heels, thigh-high boots or in trainers is all relative to your level of expertise, flooring that you are dancing on and what type of routine you are doing for your workout or performance.
You don't want to use heels on carpet since they may get caught in the threads and make you trip!
Hopefully this helps you in choosing a good pair of pole dancing shoes, especially since they can run anywhere from $35-$120, depending on the brand and style.