The choice of shoe for a serious lindy hopper is an important one. A lindy hopper is looking for the right balance of comfort, style, and durability to get their swing on. Fads come and go in the lindy hop world, but for the past few years, the Aris Allen has reigned supreme as "THE" shoes to be sporting if you want to be taken seriously as a dancer. And if you are truly a lindy "rockstar" (or wannabe), you get these in white.
The Aris Allen’s claim to fame is their slidey-ness, which is essential for all sorts of cool moves. I’ve used mine a couple times now, and I have to say they feel really great to dance in. I find lots of steps that take much more effort in my regular sueded sneakers come off much easier in my Aris Allens. And they look much nicer with a more formal outfit.
That said, there are a variety of other shoes choices that you see on the floor, which gives you some clue about the dancer who wears them.
Stiletto Heel: Avoid the dancer wearing these at all costs. She probably is carrying either (1) a fancy beverage, (2) a trendy clutch purse, (3) a cigarette or (4) all of the above. And she is smashed. And her partner is throwing her around. So she is destined to grind her stiletto heel into the toe or shin of some poor unsuspecting swinger who gets anywhere within 10 feet of her.
Bleyers: These were the "official" shoe of the neo-swing revival during the late 90s. Only later did many of us realize that these were just cheaply-made imitations of actual two-tone dress shoes with a rubber sole. Still, you see them at many dances, particularly on the more "casual" lindy hopper or east coast swing dancer.
Split-sole Sneakers: After the neo-swing era, swing dancers decided that they wanted to be treated like regular "dancer dancers." So they started wearing Capezios and other professional dancer brand shoes, particularly these split-sole sneakers. Problem #1: very hard to spin in them. Problem #2: They look ugly with pretty much every outfit.
Street Sneakers: Practical, cheap, and functional. Lots of experienced lindy hoppers wear whatever name brand sneaker they prefer, with Converse All-stars being the preferred fashion by many. They are also "vintage" in the sense that Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers would change out of their dress shoes into sneakers when they would perform. Many lindy hoppers (like me) get their sneakers "sueded" (suede leather glued to the bottom) so that they are extra slidey.
Regular Dress Shoes: Advantage: looks great with your nicest outfits. Disadvantage: expensive, and quickly gets ripped up with frequent outings.
Character / Ballroom / Tango Shoes: Advantage: looks classy, comfortable, designed for dancing. Disadvantage: also not cheap.
Obviously, these are gross caricatures. There are lots of great dancers who can rock it no matter what they are wearing (even flippers). But trust me, don’t lindy hop with someone wearing stilettos.