DANCE-FLATION: Is it Better or Worse Than Inflation?

By on August 19, 2015

I was looking through some of my old catalogs, and I was struck by how some of the dance shoes have hardly changed in over 50 years, but the prices certainly have! Here’s a fun look at dance shoes and prices starting in the ‘50’s and a look at what that cost would be with inflation. Then, let’s decide, is “dance-flation” better than inflation?


These are Capezio Tap Shoes from the 1958 Taffy’s Catalog.

Notice that the Tyette is $5.95, The Footlight is $9.95, and the Boy’s Oxford is $8.95.

Fast forward 20 years to 1978. There are a lot more choices, but let’s compare apples to apples:


1978 Taffy’s Dancewear Catalog


The Tyette is now called the Tap –Tie and sells for $11.50 – $12.50

The Footlight is $39.00 – this shoe is getting really expensive – so the Musical Comedy shoe is introduced at $19.00 (The Footlight remains available as a “professional” shoe.)

The Men’s tap oxford is $23.00

Let’s go ahead another 10 years and see what happens:


1988 Taffy’s Dancewear Catalog

Tap On is now $19.25, Footlight is no longer listed, but the Musical Comedy shoe is now $30.00, and the Men’s Oxford is $33.00.

And, what about today? After 50 or so years, the shoes are not EXACTLY the same in quality, materials, etc, but they sure look similar. Here are the same, or similar shoes from the most recent DDS online catalog:

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 12.23.33 PM

But here’s the real question: have the shoes kept up with inflation? Let’s go back to the 1958 shoes and prices and see what the Inflation Calculator says. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics here is their calculation as to how much something cost in 1958 and how much it would cost today:

Tyette in 1958 was $5.95    Today with inflation that would = $49.13 but they are only $20.50.

The Footlight was $9.95    Today with inflation that would = $82.16 but they are only $54.50.

Boy’s Oxford was $8.95      Today with inflation that would = $73.90 but they are only $61.75.


So, the next time you go to buy your shoes, remember that “dance-flation” is better than inflation by a long shot.

Read more of Susan’s articles on Dance Pathways!

About Susan Esptein

Susan was born into the dance world, and at an early age worked in her family dance retail business, Taffy’s. She studied dance and began performing at a young age. Susan earned a BFA in Dance from SMU and did graduate work at Case Western Reserve University. After a NYC dance career, Susan joined the family business full time. In that role she is credited with introducing several innovative products and services, building the business and then selling it to Capezio. Susan then became an industry marketing and merchandising consultant. She is a past president of The United Dance Merchants of America and is the founder of the UDMA Dance Resource and Costume Show, and directed it for over 20 years. Susan continues her interest in dance and dance products, consulting with industry leaders and guiding them to new opportunities. Currently she is developing seminars and blogs focused on dance colleges and careers – with the goal of educating dancers of the many pathways their training can take them from performing and teaching to community engagement, and from business and entrepreneurial ventures to dance therapy and healing.

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