Playa Diva Shoes

It’s hot, it’s dusty, you’ve been dancing at The Deep End all day, and now the most amazing people in the world (who you just met 5 minutes ago) have asked if you want to bike across the playa to the Black Rock Roller Disco.

Dancing at The Deep End in a dust storm

After skating to Donna Summer’s greatest hits until sunset, you and your new best friends bike out to the deep playa to dance until sunrise at Temple Of Breaks. As the sun comes up and you make your way back to your camp, you fall in love with your shoes and thank them for keeping your feet feeling so good that you could say yes to all the ridiculousness you got to experience. This is why wearing comfortable shoes at Burning Man is at the top of my priorities list.

Playa Diva in flat boots with fringe from Santee Alley

But how does one define “comfortable shoes”? Sandals are comfortable, so are your new Toms slip ons… but this is the playa, where there are unique things to consider such as Playa Foot. If your feet are exposed to the dust, they will dry extremely quickly and your feet will crack. It is not a serious injury, but it is uncomfortable enough to keep you at your camp for an entire day while you pamper your feet until they heal.

I mention some items to bring to keep your feet happy in my Tips and Tricks list. But as for your shoe choices, the best thing you can do to prevent playa foot is wear closed toe shoes. Sandals are OK for quick runs to the porta potty, but I always put lotion on my feet even if they have only been exposed for a short time.

Playa Diva in moccasins with fringe by Minnetonka

Another thing to consider is your transportation options in the city. (Hint: Your feet will play a major role) To get around the city you will be biking and walking, with the occasional art car ride here and there. Think about the type of shoes you will be able to ride a bike with, or what if you have to run to catch that art car? Any type of heel just seems like an illogical option, as do the multi layered platform boots. And if you are walking, you won’t want stilettos that just pierce straight into the playa.  You will want something that gives you good arch support so your legs and back don’t get sore, and something that can adjust to the areas of unevenness on the playa.

Keep in mind that Black Rock City is huge. According to “In 2008, the site covered 5 square miles. If one were to overlay it, our city would cover most of downtown San Francisco.”

Playa Diva in flat boots with faux fur lining

So how does a fabulous Playa Diva stay sexy, happy, and comfortable while dancing and prancing for an entire week?? 2 words: Flat Boots. Moccasins, Uggs, anything that has no heal, a soft sole, and are easy to get on. My favorite festival shoes of all time are boots with sneaker soles. They don’t offer a ton of arch support so I throw in some Dr Scholls and BAM! Instant happy feet forever.

In 2009 I brought a bin of flat boots, probably about 6 pairs or so. Two of the ladies in my camp had brought their super high platform boots. They looked super foxy, but they kept coming back to camp throughout the day to rest their feet. I suggested they borrow some of my flat boots, as we happened to all be the same size. Later that night one of the girls returned to camp for dinner and yelled “Sara!! Your boots saved my life! I am in love with your boots! I was dancing all day and I never had to stop! I didn’t even know that was possible!” Her life was changed forever.

Playa Diva in flat boots with ties by Sugar
Playa Diva in flat boots with sneaker soles by Blowfish

I get 1 new pair of playa boots every August and wear them for a couple weeks before the burn to make sure they are broken in. The playa corrodes zippers (the metal and zippers break) however Super Pro Tip: rub a candle on your zippers. The wax will keep the metal lubricated and the zipper happy.

I have found my Playa Diva Boots in so many different places:

Santee Alley: Located in Downtown LA, this place is where all trends go to die. There are apx 150 stores that make up Santee Alley, but it seems like there are only a few different types of items being sold. Luckily, one of those items is shoes. It may seem that there are a lot of shoe stores, but really there are only 2 or 3 shoe store owners that each have a few stores on each block. That is why it looks like they all have the same thing. They do. The quality is subpar, but for 20-30$ for boots it is amazing. I have purchased fringe moccasins there for $30, as well as basic calf-height boots for $20. Both pair lasted me less then a year before the soles were eaten away and the tops sagged, but they did their job on the playa.

Online: Amazon or Zappos

Thrift Stores: My local Buffalo Exchange always has new and lightly used boots. I got a slouchy pair of black boots by Sugar for $20, and a pair of above the knee riding boots for $30. I got my Minnetonkas at another local resale store Crossroads Trading for $40,  all of them looked brand new and have lasted me a few years.

Random Stores: I have found perfect playa boots at odd places like Urban Outfitters and a local vegan shoe store. When it’s playa prep time, I always got my eye out for my new playa boots!

Another Super Pro Tip: Get your most comfortable sneakers and adorn them. You can make them into furry playa boots, make some cute spats to go over them, or just throw on a pair of leg warmers. You can even make your own leg warmers by cutting the sleeves off an old sweater you don’t wear any more and pulling the sleeve onto your leg. Get inspired, get creative, and keep your feet so happy that after days of dancing, climbing, biking, and walking, you will want to keep going and never stop.

Playa Diva in flat boots from Santee Alley

Published by Playa Diva

I am the founder and editor of I write about festival culture and fashion. I am also the designer and owner of Katsani Designs.

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