Passionate, sensual and steamy; bachata has recently been rocking the music and dance world like aftershocks following a strong earthquake. Although it has been around for decades, it has only recently experienced a big surge in wide spread popularity.
I remember a time not so long ago (less than 10 years) when only a few bachata songs would play in most salsa clubs. And at that time most of the dancers would leave the floor to get a drink or visit the restroom. Now it is just the opposite with more and more people enjoying bachata music and dance. At first you might only hear it in a Latin-Caribbean area or event, but now it’s played just about everywhere, including on mainstream pop radio.
Artists like Prince Royce and Romeo Santos (formerly of the group Aventura), have produced a number of catchy tunes often with current Urban artists that generate frequent radio airplay.
Dominican Style vs International Fusion Styles
Originating in the Dominican Republic in the 1960’s, bachata’s roots stem from Bolero, which is a similarly slow, sensual dance. Traditionally both dances were danced in a closed hold position and started with a basic square pattern step. Over time bachata evolved into a variety of different styles.
Even the Dominican style, which typically included a lot of turns and torso movements, has evolved into a much faster dance (to keep pace with the faster modern music), and promotes much faster, fancy footwork as well.
A few decades later in the mid 90’s, bachata got its first makeover in ballrooms and other salsa dance studios outside of the Dominican Republic. Experts say that a simpler side to side basic was implemented for students to replace the more intricate box step. This style called Traditional or Western Traditional is typically taught counting three steps to the side in one direction, then adding a hip lift or tap on the fourth count. The styling comes from various ballroom dance styling.
By the 2000’s the Moderna style (later known as Fusion Style) developed. It is believed to have originated in Spain and has elements of salsa, lambada, tango and zouk dance mixed in, as well as hip-hop in newer, urban styles. The primary difference is in the salsa style turns, exaggerated torso and hip movements. Another Fusion Style also known as Bachatango later arose. This variation simply combined Traditional basic bachata steps with Tango movements. A number of other variations have since emerged, creating controversy and debate amongst teachers and students everywhere as to what exactly constitutes authentic bachata.
The etiquette for bachata goes hand in hand with salsa dance etiquette, and not surprisingly so considering it is most often danced in salsa clubs and events. The primary things to remember generally apply across the board, such as:
Stand near the dance floor if you want to be asked to dance
With some of the close dances, in particular bachata, some people, particularly beginners, can feel somewhat intimidated asking partners who they don’t know to dance. So it makes things easier to position yourself close to the dance floor and appear approachable and ready to dance. If you’re off in a corner sitting with your arms crossed, this could be taken as you’re tired or just not in the mood to dance.
How close is too close?
This is such a commonly asked question by new dancers. It is important to adjust the level of closeness from person to person, as each partner may have a different comfort level. Although bachata traditionally began as a closed hold dance, it evolved into an open hold in other areas and for various reasons there are people who will only dance it with a (establish) a comfortable amount of space between their partner, whereas other dancers prefer a more intimate, close hold. It always makes for a better experience to simply ask your partner if unsure.
Introduce yourself and thank your partner for the dance
It’s the polite thing to do and is simple, common courtesy. You’re also likely to find yourself being asked for more repeat dances.
Use good hygiene
This tip is a no brainer as it never gets old and applies across the board in all dance styles in all areas. Whenever you’re in close proximity with another person and you’re both moving and sweating, you want to shower, use deodorant and breath mints to stay fresh so as not to repel potential dance partners! You will feel much more comfortable and so will your dance partners.
Avoid bumper cars on the dance floor
When the floor is crowded, learning to find your own space and then staying in it can be challenging for some. But since no one likes being stepped on or bumped into repeatedly, it makes a difference when couples can stick to tighter boundaries when space is limited.
Enjoy… A gozar!
First and foremost social dancing is supposed to be fun. So take a moment to appreciate the music, savor the dance and the unique experience you have with each partner.