Updating your Salsa Shoes for Comfort and Safety

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Now that it is the beginning of the year you may have certain New Years resolutions and goals for the next 12 months.  One item that I always like to look at that is part of my dance wardrobe are the shoes that keep my feet moving.  Indeed, regularly updating your salsa shoes is necessary for not just comfort but also safety on the dance floor.

Both men and women can benefit from upgrading their shoes on a regular basis.  The shoes you wear while salsa dancing are important to the movements you make with your feet during the dance and if those shoes are lacking in support in any way it could end up hurting you in the long run.  This is especially true since your salsa shoes absorb many of the impacts from turns and jumps that often accompany salsa dancing.  Of particular note are paying attention to the soles of the shoes and the heel to make sure they are not overlay worn.   The last thing you want to happen to you while you are salsa dancing are for them to fly off your feet because of a damaged strap or heel that is lacking in strength.

So where do you start looking if you are interested in getting new shoes for 2012? One great resource online is EK Clothing, a salsa dance clothier and dance shoe provider.  They have a great array of different styles and colors to choose from (and have a great selection for men’s shoes as well).

You can find your perfect pair by visiting their website, EK Clothing, and choosing the ones that best suit your needs.

Hope to see you all on the dance floor in your new EK Clothing salsa dance shoes!

John ;-)


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Time to Update Your Salsa Dance Shoes and Clothing?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

For anyone on a budget, you know its important to spend your money wisely to make sure it stretches to cover all your expenses.  If you are like me, one of those expenses includes maintaining and updating what you wear to go out salsa and Latin Dancing.

EK Clothing (you’ll remember I interviewed Nicole, the owner) does a great job of offering both men’s and women’s dance wear at really good prices.  I recently visited their website and saw a large array of new styles and selections for your dance needs.  Check out EK Clothing today!

John ;-)


Christmas Gifts for the Salsa and Latin Dancers in Your Life

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Okay, if you are like me you are probably not done with your Christmas shopping. Indeed, I still have many gifts to get for all types of people on my gift-giving list.  Some of those folks, surprising enough, are Salsa and Latin dancers. I thought I would share (Shoooo! Don’t tell them!) some ideas I have for gift giving to them and anyone inclined to dance.

An easy gift idea for a salsa dancer is salsa music. Depending on the person’s current collection of salsa music, you may have to think outside the box to get them something unique. I found one salsa compilation by Dimelo! Records that is different enough to warrant my writing about it in this article. The CD, a salsa Christmas compilation titled “Ponle Salsa a Tu Navidad,” features Orquesta Tobaco y Ron and Chino Espinoza jamming out to all sorts of Christmas tunes.

Another great gift idea is something for the salsa dancer to wear. EK Clothing has some great clothing for women that want some style when they hit the dance floor. They also have a great selection of salsa dance shoes (check out some of them in this video above) that are functional yet comfortable for regular use.

For salsa dancers that are guys, sometimes simple gifts mean the most. A great gift for the avid salsa dancer could be as simple as handkerchiefs that they can use when they go out and dance (you know to wipe all the sweat off with class). They are inexpensive and if you really want to spruce them up you can have them embroidered with their initials.

If you have other ideas for Christmas gifts let me know via Twitter at @RitmoBello.  Merry Christmas!

Ritmo Bello Interviews Salsa Shoe Designer Giancarlo Gabellini

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Giancarlo Gabellini

You can always tell when someone is passionate about what they do.  Whether it is their job or simply a fun pastime, it’s clear that this passion drives them to do amazing things. 

Giancarlo Gabellini is a great example of this type of passion.  As the owner and creator of Gabellini Dance Shoes, Giancarlo has become well known within the salsa dance world for his innovative salsa dance shoe designs.  Indeed, Giancarlo’s passion for social salsa dancing has allowed him to dance, travel, and grow his business in a way that sets him apart from other salsa shoe designers.  I had the unique privilege to interview Giancarlo recently and learn more about salsa dancing from a shoe designer’s point of view.  I hope you enjoy the interview!


Ritmo Bello:   Giancarlo, thanks for taking time out of your schedule to address the Ritmo Bello audience.  Salsa dancers here in San Diego would love to know what makes your dance shoes great for dancers.  What makes Gabellini Dance Shoes a good option for them to consider?

Gabellini Dance Shoes:   Gabellini Dance Shoes was created because of my introduction to salsa. While it goes without saying quality and comfort are essential our shoes reflect the lifestyle and the fashion sense of the salsa community.

Ritmo Bello:  How did Gabellini Dance Shoes get started? 

Gabellini Dance Shoes:  The idea came out of necessity. After taking dance classes for about 6 months I committed to buying dance shoes. When I shopped around I was absolutely shocked by the available styles, most of which looked like something from 1970’s. I could see that there was a definite need for a stylish dance shoe.  Putting the concept of a fashion forward dance shoe in motion was second nature because I have a background in production from my years in the garment industry.

Ritmo Bello:  How has your experience in the garment industry influenced the design of your dance shoes?

Gabellini Dance Shoes:  Working in the garment industry involves studying fashion trends and using quality manufacturing techniques, both of which are essential to putting out top notch dance shoes. As far as styling goes you look at what dancers are wearing as street shoes and then incorporate those features into beautiful dance shoe. Salsa has the best social dancers around and we deserve styles that reflect our lifestyle.

Ritmo Bello:  Your website describes the best dance shoe soles as those made of suede.  Can you explain why you make that recommendation?  Are there any advantages to these types of soles versus other types?

Gabellini Dance Shoes:  I always do my home work, the best way to test dance shoes is to wear them.  I wore different types of dance shoes, from rubber sole dance shoes that restrict your movement to a jazz slipper that offers neither comfort nor support. My best advice came from experienced performers and the consensus was that a suede sole is the perfect balance of friction and maneuverability.  I added a small rubber portion at the back of the sole for that extra stopping traction when you need it.

The Lead Shoe

Ritmo Bello:  I know you that you offer five unique styles of dance shoes.  Can you describe what makes each one different and unique? 

Gabellini Dance Shoes:  Unlike traditional dance shoes that focus your entire weight on the heel and ball of the foot our styles have a new design concept. All of our shoes have a wedge shaped sole that distributes the weight of the foot over the whole surface of the sole.  We incorporate and build in arch support with metal shanks and reinforced sides. We always use 100% leather outer and lining to hold the form of the shoe.

Fly Out in Red

Besides the distinct style options, there are some differences in flexibility.  The Fly is the lightest and most flexible shoe because it is 3/4 lined in leather.  The Classic has a leather outer and is fully lined in leather but it will soften up like a dance slipper and you’ll be able to reverse point.  The Lead and Sancho are structured shoes that offer full support and will hold their form.  All of our shoes are lighter than the average dance shoes because we use a patented material we use for our soles. 

Ritmo Bello:  You create shoes that are available for men and women? 

Gabellini Dance Shoes:  Yes, the Fly and Classic styles are available in women sizes. Our busiest day for women dance shoes is always Sunday afternoon, the ladies coming looking for comfort after a long weekend of workshops and all night dancing. 

 Classic Shoe

Ritmo Bello:  Lots of dancers first learn about your products through the salsa congresses you attend each year.  Is it true that you attend 40 plus salsa congresses a year? 

Gabellini Dance Shoes
:  We are now very popular with Swing and Ballroom dancers so we are doubling the amount of events we attend every year. With every business I’ve owned I consider direct contact with my customer crucial for success, there is no better way to get feedback about your product. Salsa Congresses provide what I call “grass roots marketing” and allows Gabellini Shoes to be part of the dance community and also helps support the events.

Gabellini Dance Shoes at a Salsa Congress

Ritmo Bello:  What’s the best thing about attending these salsa congresses?

Gabellini Dance Shoes:  Over the past years I’ve made friends with so many social dancers, instructors and performers. It’s always fun joining up at the events and exchanging stories about our salsa travels.  I share a character trait that I think all dancers have, we are very social people with a certain “joie de virvre”. No matter where I travel in the world there’s an instant connection with fellow salsa dancers, it like running into an old friend.

San Diego Salsa Festival

Ritmo Bello:  I assume, then, that you will be at the San Diego Salsa Festival this year in September?

Gabellini Dance Shoes:  Angel and Tulane are fantastic hosts and I had great time at the last 2 events so I’ll definitely be back. On a side note, now when people ask me the question” If you could live anywhere?” my first pick is San Diego.  I’m not sure how many shoes I have to sell for that beach front property!

Ritmo Bello:  For those interested in purchasing your shoes online, how do you know which size will be the best fit? 

Gabellini Dance Shoes:  I do have a size chart online that’s very accurate but I always encourage dancers to ask me questions if there any doubt about sizing.

The Sancho

Ritmo Bello What’s your return/exchange policy like?

Gabellini Dance Shoes:  I know you have to make a leap of faith when buying shoes online, I offer free return shipping for exchanges and refunds and an absolute 100% customer satisfaction guarantee. I’m old school when it comes to customer service.  The customer is always right. 

Ritmo Bello: I understand that you ship everywhere all over the world, is that right?

Gabellini Dance Shoes:  We have customers all over the world, To give overseas customer the same return shipping advantage we opened a warehouse in the UK this year. We will open a distribution center in Rome and Germany by the end of the 2009. 

Ritmo Bello:  Can you tell me a little about your “wholesale” program and who can participate in that program?

Gabellini Dance Shoes:  We want to put Gabellini dance shoes on anyone who loves to dance so we have many options available. Along with our very successful distribution program for dance schools we also offer dance troupes volume discounts.

Ritmo Bello: What is the most interesting story you have from your travels and business of Gabellini Dance Shoes?

Gabellini Dance Shoes:  One event in particular always brings a smile to my face. At my first salsa congress as a vendor, way before I knew anyone in the business, I was at my booth when a guy comes up and asks if I knew where the room for the advanced salsa workshop was. I pointed him in the right direction and warned him “Not to feel bad if it was above his head, I had heard the class was pretty challenging”, he went on to the class. Later someone told me his name was Tito, as in “Tito and Tamara” I guess he was amused too since he’s become one of my regular customers. 

Ritmo Bello: Anything else you’d like to share with San Diego dance community?

Gabellini Dance Shoes:  Make sure you take advantage of our draw for a free pair of dance shoes that we give away each month. We’re also excited about our new woman’s formal shoe line coming our by the end of the year, so stay tuned. 

Ritmo Bello: How can the Ritmo Bello audience reach you if they want to find out more information about Gabellini Dance Shoes?

Gabellini Dance Shoes:  The best way to contact me is via email.   I always answer questions and usually within 24hrs.  gabellini.net@gmail.com  You can also visit me at my website, Gabellini Dance Shoes.

Gabellini Dance Shoes Website

Ritmo Bello:  Giancarlo, on behalf of the Ritmo Bello and San Diego dance community thanks so much for your time.

Gabellini Dance Shoes:  Always a pleasure, I’ll see everyone again on my next trip to the West Coast events. Come by and say hello!

Valentines Day Gift Ideas for the Salsa Dancer…

Thursday, February 5, 2009

EK Clothing Salsa dance dresses

February is here and of course many of you are thinking about what to get your signficant other in terms of a Valentines Day gift.  If you are a salsa or Latin dancer and want to give a dance related gift there are fortunately lots of options available.

EK Clothing salsa dance dress

For the men out there, it may be the perfect opportunity to give your loved one a new addition to their dance wardrobe.  Salsa or Latin dance dresses are a sexy and thoughful way to show that you care about your loved one and appreciate their interest in dance.  There is no reason to have anxiety over which type of dress to give since there are great resources like EK Clothing that assist in finding the proper fit and cut perfect for giving.  

EK Clothing dresses

If you check out their website you’ll see a huge assortment of salsa and latin dresses, skirts, women’s tops, and accessories that she will love.

Ladies looking for a good salsa or Latin dancing themed gift should consider quality dance shoes for the men in their lives.  With lots of styles also available on EK Clothing’s website you are sure to find a quality salsa dance shoe that will make a great gift.

EK Clothing salsa dance shoes

If you can’t make up your mind on the perfect salsa dance gift you always have the option of giving a gift certificate for that person to make their own perfect choice.  (i.e. there should be NO excuse for not giving a great dance related gift.)  Happy Valentines Day!

EK Clothing Gift Certificate


Ritmo Bello Interviews Salsa Dance Clothier e.K. Clothing

Friday, August 29, 2008


e.K. Clothing salsa skirt

As most of you know, I’ve been dancing street salsa for many years both locally here in San Diego and around the world.   Over those years I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy the dance and the positive changes that it has brought to my life.  From time to time I reflect on these changes and it occurred to me that my salsa dancing has affected me in a way I never would have imagined.

When I opened up my closet recently I noticed that I have not one but two separate parts to my wardrobe.  Indeed, on one side I had all my regular clothing and on the other I had what I call my “salsa wardrobe.”  Any of you out there that have been dancing salsa for a while understand immediately what I mean by this simple revelation.   The clothing worn by a dancer can define that person just as much as their dance style and my separate salsa wardrobe reflects that to the core.

This got me thinking about an often overlooked part of our dance world, the people that provide the wonderful range of clothing and shoe options for us to wear.  One organization in particular, e.K. Clothing caught my attention in the Latin dance community and I recently sat down for an interview with the company’s owner,  Nicole Shahian,  to talk about outfitting the Latin dance world.


e.K. Clothing Logo




Ritmo Bello: Nicole, let’s go ahead and begin.  Many people that are new to salsa dancing here in San Diego are not sure what type of options are out there for footwear and dance clothing.  What makes e.K. Clothing a good option for them to consider?


e.K. Clothing: Our prices are pretty reasonable and usually if orders are received Monday – Saturday by about 1pm or so, they’re shipped the same day. Returns are easy and most of our styles are great for Salsa and other types of Latin dancing.


Ritmo Bello: How did e.K. Clothing get started?


e.K. Clothing: Well, just like the song – Todo Empezo…Bailando! About 4-5 years ago, I was out dancing almost every night and was always looking for new Salsa clothes, because you know how it is…Salseros usually have a semi-separate Salsa wardrobe, right? I made a couple of purchases from several major online retailers and was disappointed in the price vs. quality. So I figured maybe I could offer dancers a better option…


Ritmo Bello: I know that salsa and mambo dresses are one of the things you specialize in providing to the dance community.  Can you provide some helpful tips on what somebody might look for and consider when shopping for a salsa or mambo dress at your store?


e.K. Clothing: Any clothing that has ruffles, flounces, slits and cascades will extend or accent your movement and actually make you *look* like a better dancer. Halter straps (as opposed to tank straps) are nice because they don’t slip off the shoulders. Mid length skirts with zig zag bottoms spin beautifully. Also, blends of Polyester, Nylon and/or Spandex are the best kind of fabric blends for dancers because they stretch nicely, wash easily and dry quickly.


Ritmo Bello: Are there different options available for ladies interested in specialized dresses for ballroom or Argentine Tango?


e.K. Clothing: Some of our ready to wear items are popular with Tango dancers – usually the more elegant, sharper styles or those with some sort of lace detail. For Ballroom dancers, a lot of our skirts are great for practice wear. At this time we don’t offer custom Ballroom dresses, though.


Ritmo Bello: I also understand that you offer skirts and pant options to women dancers.  What are some of the advantages of choosing an option like this compared to a full dress?


e.K. Clothing: Dresses and skirts typically have a lot more movement and can be much more eye catching. Pants are quick and easy and you never have to worry about them flying or inching up as you’re dancing. Pants and skirts are a nice option for those who like to mix and match and sometimes are better for women who may need a different size up top than what they wear on bottom.

e.K. Clothing


Ritmo Bello: How does a dancer find the right sizing for a dress, skirt, or pant when considering some of your clothing?


e.K. Clothing: It is always important to consider your body type. There are certain styles that are more flattering to different figures and it is just a matter of finding what cut/style suits you best. Everyone has their favorite pieces of clothing that they tend to wear over and over again. If you can figure out what it is that you like about your favorite outfits and look for those qualities when clothes shopping, you’re more likely to be happy with your new purchases. Also, knowing your measurements (these can be taken with a tailor’s tape measure) is always helpful. Every clothing manufacturer is different, so ALWAYS take a look at the size chart if you’re shopping online!


Ritmo Bello: In terms of footwear, what are some things you recommend to somebody looking for good salsa, mambo, or even tango dance shoes?  What characteristics make for a really good dance shoe?

e.K. Clothing: Dance shoes should be flexible, have a non grip bottom that has just enough traction for spins and should always STAY PUT on your feet, especially around your heels. For women, wearing dance shoes (instead of regular street shoes) absolutely makes a difference. Although dancing shoes might be a little more expensive, usually they are made with quality materials and last a long time. For suede bottom shoes, almost any cobbler can replace the suede when it wears out, so don’t worry too much about preserving the suede – just dance!


Ritmo Bello: In your opinion what is the best heel height for dancing?


e.K. Clothing: The best heel height is what you’re most comfortable in–for women, if you’re not used to wearing high heels, dancing in them will take a while getting used to. I’d suggest a thicker heel if comfort is the main concern, because the more area that weight is distributed across, the better. However, the most common heel for women’s Latin dance shoes is 2.5 inch slim heel. Padded soles or inserts help with getting used to higher heels.


For men, usually a 1 inch heel is the standard. Some men who dance a lot or compete prefer the 1.5 inch heels, but I’ve been told those take some getting used to as well.

e.K. Clothing Men's shoes

Ritmo Bello: Do you offer customized shoe making options for dancers?  If somebody had an idea for creating a custom shoe with e.K. Clothing what is that process like?


e.K. Clothing: We do! We have many, many custom colors available for all shoe styles. Custom designs can even have 2 or more chosen colors/materials. Customers specify the style, color/material(s) and heel height and in 3-5 weeks the shoes will be finished.


Ritmo Bello: I’ve talked to a number of professional dancers that have mentioned your store as a great place to find group dance or performance style dresses.  What kind of options do you offer to those dance groups looking to outfit their whole team?


e.K. Clothing: Group discounts start at 10% for purchases of 3 or more of the same item, regardless of color or size. We also carry sizes S-3X and often have a larger selection of colors in stock, which varies by season. Also, depending on the style, we can accommodate custom sizes and colors with a fairly quick turn around.


Ritmo Bello: Although most of your offerings are geared towards women, do you offer anything for men visiting your store?


e.K. Clothing: Currently we have men’s shoes. Hopefully by the end of the year, we’ll have some clothing for men as well…we’ve been told they’re feeling a little left out…


Ritmo Bello: Is there any chance we’ll see you in San Diego wearing some of the items you sell at e.K. Clothing?


e.K. Clothing: Right now, probably not John …I’m pretty much glued to our retail store in Lomita, CA 6 days a week.

ek clothing gallery page


Ritmo Bello: How can the Ritmo Bello audience reach you if they want to find out more information about e.K. Clothing?


e.K. Clothing: We can be reached at the e.k. Clothing website , 888-831-0925 or info@ekclothing.com.

Ritmo Bello: Nicole, on behalf of the Ritmo Bello audience and the San Diego dance community thanks so much for providing quality clothing options for dancers…


e.K. Clothing: Thank you!  Maybe one day I’ll see you on the dance floor!








A Salsa Dancer goes Shopping…

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Since the time I originally wrote this article, I’ve found THE place for salsa and latin dance wear. The place is called E.K. Clothing and has great salsa dresses, skirts, shoes, and accessories.  Check out E.K. Clothing at their website provided here and let them know Ritmo Bello sent you!!!  To find out more information about E.K. Clothing check out the interview I did with them in this article.

E.K. Clothing salsa skirt

Well its Christmas time and people are rushing all around to get those perfect gifts for people on their wish lists. Salsa dancers are no exception and I’ve found a number of sites related to salsa merchandise on the net.

I was actually surprised to see so many different products online for Salsa dancers ranging from dresses , shoes , dance shirts for guys , etc.

If you have a salsa dancer on your holiday shopping list don’t forget to get them something special!

John F. Bello

Meet John ;-)

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