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Bachata Dancing History


What is Bachata?

Bachata is a popular music style and Latin dance from the Dominican Republic. Although developed mostly in last forty years, it has just gained international popularity lately. Nowadays, Bachata is well known not simply in the Caribbean. It becomes more and more popular dance and music style in many countries. So, in order to answer “What is Bachata dance” question, and to understand more Bachata history, the dance and its music phenomenon, it is necessary to introduce historical backgrounds and social groups of origins that Bachata arose from.

Bachata History

Bachata is a genre of Latin American music that originated in the Dominican Republic in the first half of the 20th century with European, Indigenous and African musical elements. The original term used to name the genre was amargue ("bitterness", "bitter music", or "blues music"), until the rather ambiguous (and mood-neutral) term bachata became popular. The form of dance, bachata, also developed with the music in these over 50 years.


A Bachata band is composed of at least 5 instruments:

Requinto (lead guitar), Segunda (rhythm guitar), bass guitar, bongos and güira; often supported by electric guitar, guitar.

Guitar music has always been a part of the Dominican musical landscape, but the first bachata recognized as such was recorded in 1961 by José Manuel Calderón. The bachata of Calderón and his contemporaries was virtually identical to the bolero of other Latin American countries like Puerto Rico and Ecuador. In fact many of the songs which these bachateros recorded were covers of earlier boleros, and the music was viewed by society at large in the same way that bolero was viewed throughout Latin America - a romantic music popular with lovers and serenaders.


In time, however, bachata began to be associated with another world, that of prostitution, poverty and delincuency. Relegated to the brothel and the barrio, bachata began to tell the stories of that world, the experiences of the lover of a prostitute, the poor country boy who gets to the city and gets ripped off, with slang and sexual double meanings. From about 1970 to about 1990, bachata was thoroughly unique among Latin American musical genres in its free expression of the underground life of a nation. This free expression naturally provoked even more fiercely the contempt of the Dominican mainstream. Ironically, it was the most despised of these cabaret bachateros, Blas Durán, the master of sexual double meanings, whose music marked the end of the bachata isolation when he began to record with an electric guitar in 1987.


After Durán's innovation popularity of bachata began to soar, as Antony Santos and other bachateros used the new style to record more acceptable, romantic songs. The influence of merengue became marked in the rhythm and the guitar lines of the music, and in fact modern bachata was first made popular by the bachateros who played also merengue. Musicians who were popular among Dominican elites, notably Juan Luis Guerra, with his soft and poetic music made the bachata to be accepted by all sectors of society.


The 1980s and 90s saw a wave of emigration from the Dominican Republic to the USA. The emigrants carried music with them, establishing bachata in the major cities of Eastern USA, especially in New York.


By the late 1990s, Bachata had became hugely popular across Latinos in the US North East, and these new fans in turn brought the music back to their countries of origin. Large record labels took interest, and invested in slick new bachata productions. Monchy y Alexandra scored a big international success in the date 1999 with the release "Hoja en Blanco", which owes some of its popularity to its combining of bachata with vallenato, a style already hugely popular across Latin America.

Meanwhile, young Dominican-Americans formed bachata bands began to incorporate local musical styles, like R&B, into their music: it`s in this moment that the band Aventura with song "Obsesion" in 2002, catapulted bachata to the top of global pop charts, and in France and Italy even reached the first position.


It`s around the 2005  that bachata mixed with tango, giving a new music and dance style, bachatango, and by the time few of sounds is been used frequently in many bachata songs; same people affirm that the song of Grace Jones, "I've seen that face before" readapted version of "libertango" from Astor Piazzolla, is the first version of bachatango, in far 1981.


In 2008 thanks to youtube the video of Ataka y Alemana dancing Traditional Bachata on the song Te Extrano, Xtreme, is the most viewed bachata dance video of the history.


Recently coming from Spain and now a huge hit in Europe and now world wide is the famous a type of bachata called Sensual Bachata, more involving use of waves and body isolation moves. Bachata is still progressing rapidly and fuse  with other dance styles, giving a new life and evolving in a new direction as all street dances do.



The Predecessor to all partner dances including Bachata is the Waltz the original style is generally termed the Viennese Waltz. It's  the oldest of all the modern partner dance styles in the closed hold, which came from Vienna, Austria. The Viennese Waltz originates from the Volta in the 1500's which came from France. The Volta was also the only court dance of the period performed by a couple in a closed embrace. It ushered in a whole new way of looking at dance... read the full article here >


Learn Bachata
At Salsa Latina we teach this dance style every week, Join in a course starting soon for a Free 1st class. see information here >

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