What is bachata?

The history & Origin of Bachata  

Bachata is a genre of Latin American music that originated in the Dominican Republic in the early 20th century. This style of dance is practiced all over the world, however in various countries the dance differs. The basics of the dance is that there are three steps with a tap and hip movement on the 4th beat. The first Bachata song ever made was called: Borracho de amor" and was recorded in 1962 by José Manuel Calderón.

Sensual Bachata was founded and developed by Jorge Escalona about 15 years ago. The sensual dance style combines dance and theatre with strict follow and lead principles, typically it involves being very close to your dance partner whilst performing circular movements and body rolls.

Bachata's basic steps

1, 2, 3, tap, 5, 6, 7, tap and repeat.  

The music used in Bachata 

Bachata music is its own style of music, it has a 4/4 time signature which means that it has four beats hence the steps 1,2,3, tap - 5,6 7, tap and repeat. Bachata music is divided into three rhythms styles, these are Derecho, Majao and Mambo. Dfferent musical instruments play different rhythm.  

Famous bachata dancers

The most famous bachata dancers include: Jorge Elizondo, Rodney ‘Rodchata Aquino, Lee ‘El Gringuito’ Smith, Carlos Cinta and Jorjet Alcocer

My experience learning Bachata

man and woman dancing together

I went salsa and bachata dancing and for me learning to dance was unusual mainly because I am 26 years old and have never had an interest in dancing. I'm pretty sure my only dance experience before this was when I would dance to the full monty film when I was a kid. I loved that film. As someone who never cared for dancing, it may seem like, well, why did I bother doing it? 

My journey with dancing started when I attended a drama workshop. Part of a lesson on improvisation involved a group of us making up a dance move which we then had to add all of the moves together to perform an improvised dance. This experience was extremely embarrassing and awkward because my body felt stiff in my movements, and the thought of dancing terrified me.

After I finished the drama workshop, I made a group of actor friends, and we all decided to go to a cafe for breakfast. We got chatting and decided that we would make a short film together, then I came out with "I am really bad at dancing, would anyone like to go to a class with me". I didn't know about the different types of dance or their names, but Martha said, "well, I used to go to a Bachata class, we could see when the next one is on", and that was it.

I met her at a bachata class; we did a warm-up which involved a lot of moving, as you'd expect from a dance class. We would learn very small moves in the lesson, and the ladies would rotate to a different partner every 20 seconds. Before I knew it, I learned the basic steps. After that, I learned the concepts of leaders and followers, how to twirl the follower, twirl yourself, the comb, and more. After the class, it was time to free dance. It was a case of going up to someone and asking them to dance, similar to a school dance. 

As a leader, you have to keep rhythm with the music, try to remember the dance moves and think five steps ahead or worry that your partner finds dancing with you boring. As a beginner dancer, you have the problems mentioned above and that every guy around you can dance much better than you can.

If you feel how I felt, then this is my advice to you; trust the process, you are a beginner, don't be hard on yourself, you will get better that is why you are at a dance class, admire the guys who can dance well and use it as motivation to inspire you. If you keep at it, you will be dancing like the pros. I have attended about ten lessons in total, and I am hoping to move up to the improvers class soon, but I can now say that I feel a lot more confident dancing, and I am probably better than those who haven't taken a class. 

My favourite bachata song is the DJ Tronky remixed of Afterglow by Ed Sheeran. The track has a slow tempo that is easy to move to and is romantic, which helped me connect better to my dance partner than when upbeat tracks are played.

Up next: Salsa dance (explained)


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