As a seasoned burlesque performer and dedicated dance instructor, I've been frequently approached by both new students and fellow dancers enquiring about the ideal heels for burlesque. Recognising the importance of this question, I've compiled a comprehensive list drawn from my extensive experience. Having donned my dance heels more often than most - a testament to the countless hours spent in them during tours, performing and conducting workshops for over 10 hours every weekend - I understand the critical need for high-quality, durable footwear. It's not just about style; it's about reliability and comfort, especially when your performance, job, and safety depend on it.
In the spirit of full transparency, it's important to mention that I am an affiliate for the brands I'll be recommending. Any purchases made through the links provided will contribute a percentage of each sale to support my work. However, I assure you, my advocacy for these brands predates any financial incentive. Those who know me are aware that I've been a loyal user of these brands long before becoming an affiliate, and you'll find countless other professional dancers who also favour these brands for their exceptional quality and performance.
In this post, I'll be sharing my top picks for burlesque dance heels, each selected through the lens of my years of professional dance experience. I'll be sharing a few things that I personally like about them. Additionally, for those on a budget or who are hesitant about investing in professional shoes just yet, I'll also provide several cost-saving ideas. These tips will help you make an informed decision without compromising on quality and performance, ensuring you find the perfect fit for your burlesque journey
My favourite five pairs of dance heels for burlesque
My top recommendation is the Vivaz Dance Shoes - Paris. Why? They’re not just my favourite shoe; they are a burlesque essential. With a suede sole and flexibility that allows you to point your feet effortlessly, they are a dream for any dancer. Their tan colour pairs well with many outfit combinations, and the pre-rhinestoned AB finish adds that extra sparkle on stage. Most importantly, they are comfortable – I have a pair that I have been wearing for years now, and they’re still going strong (albeit with a few missing rhinestones at this point). They come in different heights but I personally wouldn't go any lower than the 3.75", especially if you're getting heels for burlesque.
For those who like a bit more edge, the Vivaz Dance Shoes - Vertigo are an excellent choice. I have taught thousands of students across Australia and New Zealand wearing these. They offer fantastic ankle support and have a sexy, modern aesthetic that complements my fetish and metalesque workshop styles. I love the 4" heel on these but it might be a little bit challenging for beginners.
Next on my list is the Vivaz Dance Shoes - Danica. Like the Paris, they boast a suede sole and the flexibility needed for perfect footwork. The red colour is striking, and the AB finish rhinestones make them stand out. Comfort is not compromised, making them a great choice for performers.
Pleaser Shoes' make a lot of great shoes and you'll see them at clubs and bars across the world. The Cocktail-508SDT is a great shoe with an ankle strap and design that I find moulds to your feet. The clear straps also create an uninterrupted line, visually elongating the legs – a feature that's as practical as it is stylish. These are definitely one of my favourites and can be a bit of a statement piece as well, I've done quite a few shoots featuring these.
For the advanced performers or those who really love boots, the Devious' Domina-2020 offers amazing height and an impressive look. They're a bit challenging to dance and walk in, so I recommend them for those who are more experienced and willing to sacrifice comfort for aesthetics. I use these in my Big Domme Energy act, because duh.. You can see them in action in the video below.
Dance heels can be expensive, and they're definitely an investment. So if you're first starting out or just looking to save a few dollars, don't forget about Op Shops, Thrift Stores, Second-hand Stores, and platforms like eBay and Depop. These can all be amazing places to find affordable second-hand heels. One of my favourite pairs is a $5 Op Shop find that I spruced up with rhinestones. The key here is to ensure they are in good condition, and try to stick to reputable brands, or at least make sure they're comfortable and feel sturdy. Especially since the last thing you want is a shoe malfunction or breaking during a performance.
This list is by no means exhaustive, and what I've included is only a few of my personal favourites. There are plenty of other brands out there and it's important to try new brands and styles to find what's right for you. Hopefully, these recommendations help you find the pair that makes you feel confident and fabulous!
Now, I'd love to hear from you! What's your favourite pair of dance heels, and do you have any great recommendations for second-hand or budget-friendly options? Share your experiences and tips in the comments below – your insights could be a game-changer for someone else in our community. Let's help each other find those perfect dance heels!