Gluing on Taps

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Clogging Shoes and Taps     

There are two ways to purchase clogging tap shoes. Purchase the shoes from USA complete with taps or purchase taps and attach them to any suitable shoes. Clogging taps can be purchased locally, or direct from manufacturers in USA.

Over 90% of Australian cloggers now use a particular type of double tap, known as Jingle taps because of the noise they make. In fact most use a specific brand "Stevens Stompers". This gives clogging its unique loud jingling sound.

Dancers who need a non-jingling sound for some specialised forms of clogging, use conventional single taps, or use "bell taps". Non-jingling can be an advantage for some choreographed demo routines, for competition (in USA), for flat foot clogging and for some complex Advanced level routines where the complex fast beats would be lost in a jingle sound.

Those cloggers lucky enough to be expert in multiple forms of clogging often invest in multiple shoes and taps to suit each type of clogging. For general dancing in Australia we recommend our club dancers use "Stevens Stompers"

There are two types of Stevens Stompers, Normal and Buck Taps. The buck taps have an extra piece of metal to protect the toe during buck steps, but the edges tend to gouge some floors during slurs and other non-buck clogging steps, so we do not sell the buck version, even for Buck Dancing.

With the amount of buck in normal modern social clogging, the toe leather does not wear out using conventional taps. We actively discourage the use of buck taps. In USA most of the training hall floors are concrete, so buck taps are not a problem.. In Australia most halls have wooden floors. Gouged floors would result in us loosing our venues and not being able to clog, hence the requirement for use of non-buck taps at our Hillbillies Clubs. Do you want to de the one that gets us thrown out of our halls?

Sets of taps come with one of three heel sizes to suit the jogger shoes or dress shoes you have purchased. The one size toe tap fits all shoes even children. If you do demos or are an instructor we recommend white taps as black shoes cannot easily be seen with most night time indoor lighting, dark coloured wood floors and typical dark stage back walls. (If you are a lousy clogger and don't want to be seen then black may be a good idea)

Nail on or glue on taps can be purchased. Nail ons can be economically attached to non-rubber sole shoes by boot makers. Get them to use better nails or tacks than the ones that come with the taps. Glue on taps are a little more work, but at least then you can never have the embarrassment of nails working out and damaging floors.

Our ongoing biggest fear is of not being allowed to continue using our halls or of damage requiring floor replacement or repair - who pays if you did the damage? If nothing else it is very embarrassing if you damage a hall floor.

Nails usually work out slowly, so provided you get into a routine of inspecting them after every use, and have the tools to tighten the nails from time to time, there is usually no problem. However nail heads, or complete nails sometimes snap off or come out without warning, and even if they land away from you, other dancers may inadvertently grind them into the floor unless you spot them and act quickly to pick them up.

We strongly discourage nailing taps on. Properly glued on taps stay on just as long as nail on ones - both fall off eventually. In fact gluing on nail on taps, without the nails, is the best as glue in the nail holes gives extra strength.

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The best way to glue:

(It is not as hard as this blow by blow description makes it out to be - but it can be messy)

Preferably use glue on taps

Roughen the inside of the tap surface (We use a high speed electric drill with a grinding disc attached

Place small stickers over the two rivets to avoid glue jamming the rivets. Glue on taps come with stickers, but these should be cut down in size a bit. (Envelope address label paper is OK to make stickers for the nail on variety of taps if they are being glued on. Paper is not needed over the nail holes but glue that oozes through must be cleaned up.)

Position the taps as near to the ends of the shoes as practical, see diagram. Sports shoes curve up at the ends, so the taps have to be set back almost on the flat for best surface to surface match.

"Shoe Goo" is less messy than contact adhesive, and now that we have used it for a time we have found it is even stronger than contact adhesives like liquid nails. It is much easier to apply and sets quickly. Apply enough to fill the inside of the tap, and fill in any deep tread on sports shoes. It dries quickly but is best to wait 24hrs for full strength if demos, class attendance or workshop schedules permit.

If you use "Liquid Nails" contact adhesive:
One small handyman tube is the right amount for two sets of shoes, so find others also gluing on taps, as a tube that has been open can loose its effectiveness within a week, even with the lid tightly on. Contact adhesives work by initially applying a layer to the taps and separately a layer to the shoes, allowing these to become almost dry. Then by squeezing them together, the contact adhesive sticks to itself, thus completing the bond.

Apply the glue by rubbing it into the surfaces of the taps to remove air bubbles, and ensure it has properly wet the surfaces. The back of the tap is filled with glue and the surface flattened to match the surface of the shoes. If there are deep treads on the shoes these will need filling too at this time, otherwise do not put glue on the shoes yet. On the tap it may take several days to be dry enough to attach to the shoe depending on the weather. (the instructions say 15 minutes, but assumes only a thin layer of glue). When the glue is getting like putty and the surface is dry I give it a few fittings onto the shoe to get the surface of the glue to match the surface curve of the shoe. I then let it dry completely for as many days as I can wait.

If the taps are stuck on before the glue is dry enough, it may never dry and will squirt out onto the dance floor, in an embarrassing moment, the first time you stomp hard in your shoes.

If the tread on the shoes is not deep the glue on the shoe will dry much faster than on the taps, so apply it later than on the taps. If the shoe is flat go to the next step then apply glue to the shoe.
Once the glue inside the back of the tap and any glue in deep treads on the shoe, are completely set, apply a thin layer of glue to the taps and the shoe, wait 15 minutes or so until they are reasonably dry to the touch, then stick them together

The time to remove excess glue around the edges (or coming through any nail holes) or glue spilt onto the face of the shoe is at this time when it is rubbery, not when it is wet and smeary, and not when it has set rock hard.

If possible allow several days for the glue to completely harden before dancing on it. (the instructions say only 24Hrs) If the glue inadvertently dries too completely before contact is made (provided the glue was patted flat while drying so the shoe and tap surfaces match), a thin layer of additional glue can be applied to both surfaces, requiring only 15 minutes before squeezing together.

When contact adhesive glued taps (eventually) fall off, leave the old glue on, and use the above thin layer, 15 minutes drying approach. Often on rubber soles the tap slowly peels free over a couple of years. When bad enough, holding the gap open and applying a squirt of liquid nails usually fixes the problem.

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Shoe Colour:

If you have ever watched clogging performances on a video, or watched a live performance in a large auditorium from a distance, you will realise that the audience can clearly see what the cloggers feet are doing when white shoes are worn, but can see virtually nothing when black shoes are worn. The audience can see the action with other coloured shoes, in varying degrees.

While black shoes look nice with the popular dark colour scheme performance clothing, white is still best for the performance shoes. The audience needs more than just to hear the dancing.

Some dancers buy conventional tap shoes, remove the taps and replace them with Stevens Stompers Taps. While this is a convenient way to get dress shoes, it usually means black shoes, unless you paint them, and usually means small heels.

There is only one Australian shoe that we have yet found that is remotely comfortable like the USA clogging shoes, but it has a slightly thicker sole, may cause blisters and is much heavier.

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Mail order from USA:

If all of this is too hard, talk to other dancers at club and try on newish USA made clogging shoes to find your size, call 
Stevens Worldwide Inc. in USA
Buy your shoes with taps (already attached) by mail order.

if you want the taps to be a little easier to remove in the future - or easier to put on. You can order taps from Stevens with "fast-ons" instead of tacks. This is industrial double sided tape cut to a shape that fills the back of the tap. It is then glued to the shoe, with "Shoe Goo", and because the glue is less thick it dries faster. Our only experience with this approach is that if the tap hits a nail or rough join in the floor, as is common on temporary demo stages, the double sided tape tears, allowing the tap to come off a little too easily. Of course with more "fast-ons" they are also easy and quick to repair. We demo on many makeshift stages with layers of ply wood guaranteed to rip even nail on taps off your shoe.

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