I’m writing this “field test report” as a public service to my salseras (and ballroom dancers) out there who are still looking for the right shoe. There are so many little brands out there, and it seems new ones are cropping up daily, and there’s very little information or concensus out there about which brand is the best (unlike, say comme il fauts for tango dancers).

I’ve owned salsa shoes from at least four different brands– not to mention all the jazz shoes and jazz sneakers I’ve gone through over the years– and each one has had its pros and cons. I think of salsa shoes like athletic shoes that happen to be pretty and have 2.5″ to 3.5″ heels. You are doing some pretty high impact, fast and intricate movements in them and deserve the best possible construction and fit to protect not  only your feet, but your balance and your knees.

I’ve taken the Salma Hayeks (just my nickname– they are really called Stephanie Latin 12014) out dancing twice now and am totally in love with them. So far they are the best salsa shoes I have ever had, and as I mentioned above I’ve had a lot of salsa shoes. from a lot of different brands.Gratuitous picture of Salma Hayek I’m not endorsing this brand or anything although, Stephanie execs, if you’re reading this, I’ll consider it in exchange for money and free shoes!! 😉 (I can really never have too many of either).

Look: First, the obvious. They are GORGEOUS, which is why I named them after their namesake. They are very unique and dainty in their design, and most importantly they look good on and make my otherwise fat feet and stubby toes look much prettier than they actually are.

Fit: A good salsa shoe should fit very snugly without strangling the foot. The toes should come very close to the edge of the shoe. Straps around the ball of the foot should keep all the toes from harm (accidents and errant feet of others are inevitable). For my tastes, the strap should wrap around the ankle to support it and hold the foot firmly onto the shoe so that there is no wobbling of any kind (we don’t want sprained ankles), and the strap itself should be easy to adjust. The Salma Hayeks meet all of the above criteria to perfection. My feet are perfectly cradled in them and stay firm while I dance without creating any instability. As for the sizing, I have slightly wide feet, and the people at the online store I bought them from told me that Stephanies run on the wider side (therefore may not be for you if you have narrow feet). I ordered them one half size under my normal street size, and the fit was perfect.

Comfort: The Salma Hayek’s soles are very flexible, much more than I am used to, and I love it. It’s as flexible as dancing in bare feet, and combined with the perfectly balanced heel (also an amazing plus– I thought it would be too thin for me to balance on but they are well-engineered) allowed me to dance to the best of my abilities. I also like the quick release fastening, which allows you to set the buckle to the proper setting once, and then hook it on quickly when you fasten them.

Durability: Hard to judge, because I’ve only worn them out twice (though I’ve been known to wear them around the house to break them in– not that they needed it– and because they’re so gosh darn pretty). Everything held up just fine, except for one thing. This is my only complaint about these shoes– the heels are covered in tiny pieces of suede. This is a nice detail to begin with, but unfortunately after one night of dancing on them, one of the pieces had started to come off. I easily fixed it with some crazy glue, but will be checking them regularly to make sure it’s not a chronic issue.

Price: Excellent. I got these for a very reasonable price by salsa shoe standards. I’ve been known to pay almost double the amount for shoes that I was much less satisfied with. The shoes also came with a free shoe bag, which was a nice little bonus.