What Is A Cuban Heel On A Shoe? (Find Out!)

When it comes to ballroom dancing, there are many different types of shoes that can be worn with various heels attached to them.

What Is A Cuban Heel On A Shoe

Out of all the heels, the Cuban heel is one of the more unique heels you will come across. These heels are found in both male and female ballroom dance floor shoes.

The Cuban heel is sometimes referred to as the knock on heel.

Yet, really this is a medium to high sized heel that is slightly curbed near the back.

This is due to the heel being attached and constructed without any other additions.

The Cuban heel has a very interesting history and made a few appearances in various other places besides ballroom dancing.

In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about the Cuban heel.

Appearance Of A Cuban Heel

As you will see, the appearance of the Cuban heel has slightly changed throughout history.

It has many purposes and is attached to different kinds of shoes.

Typically, this heel will have tapered sides that go inwards from the top to the bottom.

The breast of the heel is usually straight instead of being angled. 

The Cuban heel has been confused with other heels over time.

However, you will often see these heels on boots, such as work boots and fashion boots, and also dancing shoes.

The main thing that people like about these heels is that they provide you with a lot of support and stability. 

Where Does The Cuban Heel Come From?

The Cuban heel was first noted to make an appearance when this heel was worn in the 9th Century by Persian soldiers.

However, back in the 9th Century, the Cuban heel had a very different purpose to what they are used for now.

Back then, these heels were to help give the Persian soldiers more stability while they were riding their horses. 

The love of the Cuban heel was later adopted and taken on by the cowboys.

As they wore boots with this heel attached. Again, this heel was to help the cowboys while they were riding on horseback. 

Then, the Cuban heel made an appearance in France during the 1600s.

In France, upper classes were seen wearing these heels.

However, these heels are still only worn by men and women during this time.

It is known that women began to wear these heels when they were thought to be in social power with a man in higher French society. 

It is worth noting that the heels worn in France were much taller than the Cuban heels which you will see being worn today. 

Modern Day Cuban Heel Appearance

In the modern day, a much shorter Cuban heel is worn. These smaller heels first appeared in the 20th Century in England.

With this new smaller heel, the meaning behind the Cuban heel changed once again.

In England during the 20th Century, the Cuban heel was to symbolize the youth rebelling. 

Since then, a lot of popular music artists have been seen wearing these heels.

In fact, in 1963, the Beatles were seen wearing a slightly taller version of this heel.

Also, the Rolling Stones were known to wear Cuban heels during their performances in the middle of the 1960s.

Yet, when it came to the Beatles, a Chelsea boot was combined with a Cuban heel and the Beatles boot was created.

Appearance wise, this was a close-fitting book, which had a pointed toe and only reached your ankles.

Then a Cuban heel was attached to give the boot some more height. 

It wasn’t only music artists that were seen wearing these heels.

Actor John Travolta can be seen wearing the Cuban heel in the 1977 film titled Saturday Night Fever.

This appearance in Saturday Night Fever, really helped promote the love for these heels.

These heels can also be seen in Scarface, by Tony Montana, played by actor Al Pacino. 

A significant influence that promoted the love of the Cuban heels was when Prince started wearing them in the 1980s.

Eventually, the Cuban heel began to be part of Prince’s aesthetic and style. 

As a result, you can see that the Cuban heel has gone through many changes over time and its purpose has changed as well.

Yet, these heels have become quite iconic in their own way. Even though there are a lot of pop references, a lot of people will know the Cuban heel thanks to ballroom dancing.

In the 21st Century, the trend of the Cuban heel has slowly faded away in everyday life, but in ballroom it is still as popular as ever. 

Cuban Heel And Ballroom Dancing

The Cuban heel, that you see used in ballroom dancing, originated from Latin America.

It is traditionally worn by male dancers when they are performing the tango or the flamenco. 

As you can see above, the Cuban heel has had a rich history.

Originally used to help keep soldiers stable while riding on horseback, and then it turned into a fashion trend.

Yet, these trends faded away over time, but when it comes to ballroom dancing, Cuban heels have remained as popular as ever.

When it comes to any form of Latin dancing like the rumba, samba or the cha cha cha, the Cuban heels are a popular choice. 

The majority of dance shoes usually feature a 1-inch heel.

However, when it comes to Latin dance shoes with a Cuban heel, the heel is usually 1.5 to 2 inches high. As a result, due to these heels being so much higher than regular dance shoes, this makes them much more suited for Latin dances, because it allows the dancer to move much more freely. 

With that being said, women are also known to wear Cuban heels when it comes to ballroom dancing.

It is known that for a female dancing, by weaning with either a Cuban heel or a flared heel, this gives them a lot more stability while dancing.

Hence, dance shoes with a Cuban heel are suggested for beginners, but anyone can wear them as they make moving a lot easier. 

Final Thoughts

The Cuban heel has a long history that has been used for different purposes.

What is so loved about these heels is that they provide you with plenty of support.

Nowadays, you may see boots with this heel, yet they are much more commonly found in ballroom dancing. 

With this heel, it keeps coming in and out of fashion all the time, while it has always remained constant when it comes to Latin dance shoes.

Pop stars and actors are often seen wearing these heels, however, they aren’t as popular a sight as they used to be in the 20th Century. 

We hope you have enjoyed this article, and now have a better understanding on what a Cuban heel on a shoe is. 

Jim Stanton
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