The History of Bachata

Bachata was first heard echoing out of the shantytowns of the Dominican Republic during the 1960’s and 1970’s. Musically it is very similar to merengue, Cuban sôn’s, Mexican rancheras, and the Colombian cumbias. Originally a guitar-based music form, bachata was considered the music of the poor, uneducated and dispossessed. Most often the lyrics then contained inferences to women trouble, sexual innuendo, male bravado and bawdy illicit sex. While most Dominicans listened to bachata, it was not considered an important musical form.

Bachata music has four beats per measure and you can easily hear each beat in the bachata music. Since 1992, when Juan Luis Guerra won a Grammy for his album ‘Bachata Rosa’, bachata has become recognized internationally as a very popular social Latin dance and music form in all of the Salsa dance clubs.

What is Bachata?

Bachata has become a very popular social Latin dance form in all Salsa dance clubs.
Similar to salsa, the step timing is three steps and then a one-beat pause. On slightly flexed knees the dancer takes three steps to four beats of music. The basic footwork pattern resembles merengue in that it is step-together-step. However, the difference is the dancer takes three steps in one direction (side-close-side) with a foot tap or a hip motion on count four (the pause) and then repeats it going in the opposite direction.

There are variations on how the Bachata is counted and taught. Some dance instructors call out the timing as “one, two, three, touch; one, two, three, touch.” Some dance teachers call out the timing as, “one, two, three, lift; one, two, three, lift,” while other dance instructors call out the timing as, “one, two, three, bump; one, two, three, bump.” However the case may be, the basic step is fairly easy.

As with all Latin dances, once the footwork is learned the stylization of the body action is the more difficult part. Without the hip and body action, you are not dancing the bachata. Practice makes perfect. So flex your knees and practice that hip action!