Since the 1970s, when Solatio 102 Crossovers pounded Northern Soul casino floors across the Midlands and North of England and platforms were so synonymous with Studio 54-era disco, footwear and dancing have naturally gone hand-in-hand. Clearly style was favoured over practicality in those early days – we can’t imagine platform shoes and wedges provided much, if any lumbar support at all – but as shoes, specifically trainers, have evolved, people keen to dance to loud music in poorly lit venues are no longer required to sacrifice one for the other. What would we do without the development of Nike Air bubble technology?
This isn’t a comprehensive list, neither is it a breakdown of our personal favourites, but here are a few preferred choices for seasoned veterans of the dance in 2018, and the venues you were likely to see them in.
Footwear: Air Max 95
Venue: Fold (London), Unit 18 (London)
Air Max trainers are a bonafide classic of the dance, from the Air Max 90s worn proudly by the Belgian gabbers to the UK junglist’s Air Max 1. 95s have been a British staple since they first dropped over 20 years ago and in the wake of new warehouse/industrial-esque venues opening around the capital, the all-black version has re-emerged as a favourite for everyone from your grime kid to the leftfield chin-scratcher. Originally introduced to mask the dirt from your daily jog, the black mid-sole has proven a useful feature for anyone keen to leave the venue with their shoes intact, while the extra cushioning provides some much-needed support for marathon sessions at London’s nascent 24-hour venue, Fold.
Footwear: Dr. Marten 1461
Venue: The Island (Bristol), Salon Des Amateurs (Düsseldorf)
Utilitarian footwear, equipped with a durable rubber sole; in short, a go-to staple for anyone after a hard-wearing shoe that’s functional enough to dance in, but black enough to get into Berghain with, AKA half the people getting down to industrial-tinged techno or some experimental wave music in 2018. Regularly seen worn at venues like Düsseldorf’s Salon Des Amateurs and The Island in Bristol.
Footwear: Nike Air Max 93
Venue: Garage Noord (Amsterdam), De School (Amsterdam)
More Air Max here. To be fair, they’ve never gone away, never truly fallen out of style, and right now, you can’t really walk into any of Amsterdam’s best and most adventurous venues without seeing a few pairs. Whether it’s a Pinkman Records showcase or Rush Hour family representing, you can almost guarantee the 93 will be in attendance. Just watch that you don’t dribble on them when that jaw’s swinging right to left.
Footwear: Adidas Samba OG
Venue: Paloma Bar (Berlin), Sneaky Pete’s (Edinburgh)
Retro footwear, equipped with a trademark rubber gum and leather tongue. In the capricious world of footwear, it remains an ever-enduring symbol of rave culture. Seen increasingly less in large capacity industrial spaces; perhaps because the shoe lacks support, or more likely because of their anachronistic nature. Mostly spotted at smaller venues (where DJs play old house records) by those who were there from the start. Regularly worn at venues like Berlin’s Paloma Bar and Edinburgh’s Sneaky Pete’s.
Footwear: Reebok Classics (white, obviously)
Venue: 24 Kitchen Street (Liverpool)
Venue: Desterro (Lisbon)
So, these aren’t exactly something you’ll see anyone sporting at Desterro, but to combat the many obstacles people attending the DIY Lisbon venue face, Crocs could be something of a godsend. Good grip for the tiled loos, and being a swampy dungeon, easily wipeable to remove that club grime and have them sparkling clean for round two the following evening. Most people wouldn’t be caught dead in a pair, but surely it’s a no-brainer if you’re opting for function over style.