It's Gotta Be the Shoes
What kind of shoes do you wear for lindy hop?
My initial response for most beginning students is to wear something comfortable. Ideally it should have some support without too much traction. You want to be able to turn and twist without getting stuck. You should also be able to take a traveling triple step and still keep your feet underneath yourself.
For this reasoning, Keds remain a popular choice throughout the lindy hop world.
As students progress, I generally recommend something that slides a bit more. Yes, I would generally say that those primarily dancing the follower role can benefit from slightly more traction than leaders. Once you hit an intermediate/intermediate advanced level, you might like having the option of something with less grip (even if not all of the time). Yes, Keds might still fit the bill here, depending on the floor you are on.
Many choose a leather/chrome soul with a rubber heel. This gives you some slide and twist but allows you to hit the breaks when you put your heel down. For instance, Katie has been wearing Remix for the last several years and has enjoyed every pair she’s owned.
For me, I have been dancing in only one style or another for most of the last 15 years. I prefer a complete leather sole for 95% of my dancing. Yes, that including leather heels. I like hearing the the separation in rhythm between my ball and my sole. Flat sneakers with leather/leather-like soles do not have the same feeling. Side note: Those same sneakers also look a bit strange with a suit…. then again, those dress shoes can look a little silly with a t-shirt and jeans. But to each (lindy hopper) their own.
I also prefer a fairly thin sole. I like feeling the foot punch through the floor, to feel the rhythm of what is happening. If I dance in a pair of padded Nikes, it like putting in ear plugs. It all feels a bit delayed and muffled.
Bottom line: There are great dancers who wear super slide and heavy soled dress shoes. There are also plenty that prefer Adidas. Wear what you like and don’t be afraid to mix it up.