Updated: Feb 7
Do you remember your first pair of tap shoes? Were they tanned, black or colourful? Did they buckle or tie up? Were they hand me downs or brand tappin' new?
I will never forget my first pair of tap shoes. It was in 1999 when I had decided I wanted to take up tap dancing after thoroughly enjoying 2 years of jazz ballet - baby ballet hadn't quite done it for me, I needed something with a strong beat that was fast-paced. Excited and hungry for a dance style that encouraged my loud and vociferous personality, it was time for tap shoes!
The studio I danced at had a 'shoe box' of second hand dance shoes, where students would donate their shoes into once they had grown out of them. This was an extremely good idea, as any child at the age of 6 doesn't hold onto a pair of shoes long before growing out of them - and we all know how expensive dance shoes are! The shoes from the 'shoe box' would be sold at a much cheaper price and the past owner of the shoes would get the money for them or choose to donate it back to the studio.
At that time there was a higher number of younger students at the studio, compared to older - more advanced - students. It was a competition for who could fit into a pair of one of the older girls' shoes. It was as if the tap shoes from a previous student had magical tap dancing powers. It was the biggest disappointment if you couldn't find a pair of shoes from the 'shoe box' and had to actually go to the shops and get brand new ones. Basically it was a dancers version of Cinderella!
I remember slipping into a pair and thinking "YES, I have been chosen to fit into this pair of tap shoes and I have been gifted with the magical tap dancing powers!" What was a strange feeling at first having to create new toe grooves in these pre-loved shoes, in no time became an extended part of my body. I laugh every time I think back to this. What kind of child would prefer a beaten up pair of pre-owned sweaty dance shoes over a brand new pair from the dance store? My honest thought is...that I wouldn't want it any other way. That moment is truly special to me and I will cherish it FOREVER.
By Lauren MacKinnon - Founder & Dance Teacher of DTLS