Hot to trot

Hot to trot

For two weeks each summer, Lincoln Center's Midsummer Night Swing draws thousands of dancers to its outdoor dance floor at Damrosch Park. Now in its 26th season, the series attracts dancers of all stripes: young, old, amateur and professional.

They tend to have one thing in common: a fussiness, or a passion, when it comes to shoes. Sometimes, footwear choice is a matter of tradition. Think of cowboy boots for Cajun or lightweight sneakers for acrobatic swing dancing. In many cases, it is a matter of comfort, personal style or the material of the dance floor.

Mr Bill Bragin, director of public programming at Lincoln Center, had a variety of dancers test different types of shoes on different materials when Damrosch Park got a floor upgrade three years ago. Female tango dancers in stiletto pumps are much more aware of whether there is a seam between the tiles, he said.

"What's that experience like? You want to maintain that sexy grace," he said.

He has been struck by the variety of shoes displayed on the dance floor. "Some people dress to impress," he said. "Some people choose shoes that are going to be comfortable and perform well. The people who do it best are those who are able to do both at the same time."

Here are the stories of five regulars at Midsummer Night Swing and the shoes that they wear.

Celia Gianfrancesco, 67, and Jerry Feldman, 71

The retired couple have been partners for nearly 15 years, dancing swing, disco, salsa and tango. He said he had to take lessons when they started, because she danced all the dances.

A versatile dance arsenal requires a versatile shoe collection, and Mr Feldman rotates between traditional men's shoes from Aris Allen, sneakers for dancing outdoors and fancier two-toned men's shoes for indoor tango.

His favourite is a comfortable pair of Aris Allens with a smooth leather sole, "which is good for turning on the dance floor". He also likes the distinctive white leather. "If I wear that, people know I'm a dancer," he said.

Ms Gianfrancesco wears low heels almost exclusively, even on a swing-dance floor where many other dancers are found wearing sneakers.

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