Simple Solutions for Sticky and Slippery Floors

Sometimes the simplest suggestions are the best ...

How many times have you been to a dance club, social, or party where the floor didn't feel right? Too slippery or too sticky? We all have experienced this. It's a little easier when we are hanging out in our hometown. Usually we've been to the venue before, and know what to expect. But what about at a new venue? Or when you travel to another city or go to a salsa congress?

Let's face it -- no shoe is made for all surfaces. This is an age-old problem for dancers.

Some dancers try to solve this problem by carrying around an extra pair of shoes. But this takes up lots of (valuable) space in a bag or suitcase, and doesn't always work.

There are probably many techniques that people use. I would love to hear about them, so leave your comments and ideas below. But here is my favorite solution for any sort of less-than slippery surface, as suggested casually one day by a student of mine ...


Just carry around a roll of this tape with you. You could leave it in your car, or if you have limited space, wrap some around a pen (as pictured just above.) It just costs about $5 per roll, and you can pick it up at any hardware store.

Before ... ... and after

The following situation has happened to me too many times and is what motivated me to look for a solution ... I arrive to a different country to teach at a salsa congress. I'm about to give a demo for the entire crowd, but when I try dancing on the floor, I find myself slipping all over the place. The hall is in a beautiful European building with great looking wood floors -- but slippery as an ice rink.

Well, somehow I survived doing the demo, and even managed to have fun social dancing that night, but it wasn't nearly as easy nor as enjoyable as I would have liked.

Another time, while in Amsterdam, the floor was equally as bad. Four days at a congress, and I had just brought my leather-soled shoes with me. I didn't want to be sliding around the entire time. Fortunately there were some shoe vendors right on-site, and I ended up buying a pair of very nice dance sneakers. It was much better. I was very lucky.

But I don't always have room to carry around two sets of dancing shoes with me in a small no-way-I'm-checking-baggage-flying-all-over-Europe-these-days suitcase. I'm also a guy that won't walk into a club carrying a separate pair of dance shoes -- too much trouble for me. I always just dance in regular leather-soled dress shoes, and just walk into the club (rain or shine) with them on my feet.

And, there is no guarantee that dance sneakers will grip enough. In addition, dance sneakers are only of use on slippery floors. On sticky floors, including concrete, or carpet (often danced on at congresses) they are even worse!

We are still exploring various solutions for what to do with very slippery surfaces and will report our findings soon. But for now, check out this super useful solution for any floor that doesn't slip and slide enough ... PAINTER'S TAPE.

It's super easy to put it with your luggage anywhere you might go, and you could find some of this type of tape almost anywhere in the world.

It just takes about one minute to apply this tape to both of your shoes! The tape tears very easily, so there is no need to carry around any type of scissors.

Pictured above is the tape applied in horizontal stripes. Instead of five stripes, three will usually suffice. You could also apply the tape vertically instead of horizontally.

I would also recommend this for suede-soled shoes. Especially when finding yourself on a surface that would otherwise hurt the shoe. It could actually end up protecting the shoe.

Painter's tape is special because it is easy to remove for up to about two weeks after sticking it on. However, once the tape gets "beat-up" it will be harder to remove, so I'd recommend using the tape just for a night or two, and then just peel it off.

The almost magical idea behind this is that the tape has about the right level of "slip" for just about any surface other than a very slippery one.

My old dance sneakers (with hard rubber soles) started to become sticky one day on what is normally an ideal surface. Rather than throwing out the sneakers and buying new ones, I applied the blue painter's tape, and the shoes felt good again.

After using this tape over time, I have discovered several situations in which this tape is like a life-saver:

1. When on any sticky floor, whether it be a wood or non-wood floor. Nightclubs are located in all sorts of places. I've danced on all sorts of surfaces in clubs-- concrete, mylar, vinyl, carpets, sticky wood-floors, just to name a few. If you find your shoes sticking, just try this tape. It may make your night a lot more enjoyable.

2. When having to dance on concrete or pavement. Who hasn't gone to see an outdoor concert? Or just outside with some friends and dancing? While everybody else is torquing their knees or avoiding spinning altogether, just put the tape on your shoes, and you will find yourself able to do double or even triple spins. Everyone else will wonder how you are doing it.

3. When you want to use something other than your regular dance shoes. The best part of this is that you can now use any rubber-soled shoes for dancing! The other day, my girlfriend didn't have her regular dance shoes with her, but instead had some high heels with sticky rubber soles. Luckily, we had the painter's tape on-hand, and a minute later we turned her rubber soles shoes into pretty decent dancing shoes, and she was just fine dancing for rest of the night! She likes this solution so much, that she is starting to bring these shoes on purpose when we go out dancing. So get out your old rubber-soled shoes that you never take dancing, put some tape on them, and see how you like it!

4. Want to use your regular sneakers to dance in every now and then? It works! The tape will stick great to worn-soled sneakers better, but even newer sneakers with the knobby tread will stick well enough to the tape for a while.

5. And here's another totally useful situation, especially if you are a dance teacher -- for students who show up to class or a private lesson without proper footware. This is especially for beginners who don't know better -- I just hand them the roll of tape, and their non-leather soled shoes all of a sudden become quite adequete for the class.

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