Do you want to learn how to dance Bachata?
Bachata is one of the most important and culturally impactful dance and music forms to come out of the Caribbean.
It may not have the size and popularity as the Rumba or the Salsa, but it has common traits with these dances.
How to Dance Bachata?
If you’d like to learn more about the culture on the island of Hispaniola, then this is the perfect dance for you.
Bachata is a genre of Latin American music and a historic dance that originated in the Dominican Republic.
During the first half of the 20th century, Dominican musicians experimented with European, Indigenous, and African musical elements.
History of Bachata
Did you know the original term used to name the genre was ‘Amargue’?
It was referring to the bitter tone of the music itself, but for the last 60 years has been known as Bachata.
The first piece of music referred to as ‘Bachata’ was recorded in 1961 by José Manuel Calderón who innovated the Bachata sound by implementing strings, horns, a piano and the infamous güira to his tracks.
Interestingly, the Bachata from the 1960s had so many similarities with the style known as Bolero, that many Latin listeners and dancers thought that it was indeed Bolero.
In time, Bachata became associated with the world of prostitution, poverty, and delinquency due to the conditions of the working class in the Caribbean.
Bachata became the style of music and dance that represented the people.
The 80s and 90s saw a huge wave of emigration from the Dominican Republic to the United States.
Bachata in New York
The emigrants carried the Bachata music with them, establishing Bachata in the major cities of the Eastern seaboard, especially in New York.
By the late 1990s, bachata became hugely popular with Latinos in America, and these new fans in turn brought the music back to their countries of origin.
With that, the major music labels took an interest and Bachata is now a huge music genre.
Bachata now has multiple variations, including:
- Dominican Bachata: Also known as the original Bachata, this is the one that all variations originate from. The passages are usually free, made side by side, and without turning, in more open or closed positions.
- Traditional Bachata: This style is the most widely taught variation of the Bachata and actually originates from America and Europe. It features romantic nuances, twists, visual drops and a hip strike on beats 4 and 8.
- Sexy Bachata: This is more of a sensual version of the traditional Bachata. It’s more focussed on the corporal expression and the variety of movements. Usually, short distances are used and the musical sensation is sought with eight hips and dry blows. The contact made with a partner is more accentuated than foot movement.
- Modern Bachata: The most up-to-date Bachata introduces different styles. Its execution is by crossing the feet in all the steps, 1, 2, 3, and 4.
- Urban or street bachata: It is a combination of typical Bachata movements and other dance styles such as street dance and hip-hop. You have the ability to dance in all directions, not just sideways.
Learn How to Dance Bachata
Before we get into the Rhythm of Bachata let’s look at the Bachata steps;
See the video below to get an idea of how to dance Bachata:
The Rhythm of Bachata
Bachata dancing is all about getting into the groove of the music.
The beat of Bachata music is very similar to the Salsa dance, so if you’ve had experience with Salsa music then this won’t be an issue.
The basic rhythm of Bachata is four beats per measure. This means that Bachata uses eight beats that you have to dance in time to.
The best thing for any beginner to start with is just listening to Bachata music.
The basic Bachata step requires the dancer to step on every beat but to pause on the 4th. 1,2,3, pause, 5, 6, 7, pause. Once you’ve got the rhythm down, start using your feet as a march.
In Bachata, there are two basic positions for holding your partner – open position and closed position.
Open position puts more space between the two partners, as they make contact only through their hands.
The open position allows more space and flexibility when it comes to advanced moves such as turns.
Closed position, on the other hand, is somewhat more intimate. The closed position is more common in modern clubs and dance halls owing to cramped floor space.
For open position, keep your arms loose and relaxed. Offer your partner both palms, facing up. She’ll gently place her hands in yours and allow them to rest.
Both yours and your partners’ elbows should be bent at your sides, which will put your bodies about a foot or two apart.
For closed position, wrap your arm around your partner’s body so that your palm is resting roughly in the middle of her back.
Using your unoccupied arm (which is known as your leading arm), hold her other hand out to the side at about shoulder or chest height, keeping both of your elbows bent.
Don’t interlock fingers – your hands should be held palm-on-palm, with the back of your hand facing out.
As you dance, use your outstretched hand to lead your partner, gently guiding her upper body in the direction you’re moving.
For open position, keep your arms loose and relaxed. Lay your hands palms-down in your partner’s. Remember to keep your elbows bent to allow flexibility.
For closed position, when your partner wraps his arm around your back, lay your arm over his and rest it near his shoulder.
Allow your partner to hold your other hand – the back of your hand should be facing towards you, while the back of his should be facing out.
Keep your elbows bent and remember to keep a palm-palm handhold (don’t interlock fingers).
For beginners, try moving through the basic left-and-right bachata steps twice, then doing a back-and-forth motion twice, then switching back to the left-and-right motion and repeating.
Your steps should be as follows:
- (To the left) 1, 2, 3, (4) (To the right) 1, 2, 3, (4), (To the left) 1, 2, 3, (4) (To the right) 1, 2, 3, (4).
- (To the front) 1, 2, 3, (4), (To the back) 1, 2, 3, (4), (To the front) 1, 2, 3, (4), (To the back) 1, 2, 3, (4).
- (To the left) 1, 2, 3, (4), (To the right)… and so on.
Famous Bachata Songs
Once you’ve got your Bachata steps down to a T, why not familiarize yourself with the most famous Bachata songs?
See these world-famous Bachata songs below:
- Obsesión – Aventura
- Corazón Sin Cara – Prince Royce
- Propuesta Indecente – Romeo Santos
- El Mismo – Eunel
- Te Extraño – Xtreme
With these Bachata rhythms, you shouldn’t have any trouble impressing your friends, family, and other bystanders.
How to Dance Bachata?
Bachata is the sexiest dance style to come out of the Caribbean, and it surprises many when they find that it isn’t Cuban in origin.
Bachata is extremely underrated and worth checking out if you’re interested in Caribbean culture or dancing in general.
You’ll never forget the day you learned about Bachata dancing!
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