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Sensual Dance “Bachata”

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The sensual dance known as “Bachata” was developed in the Dominican Republic during the 1960s (beginning of 20th century), but did not officially emerge until the 1980s. Bachata in the Caribbean is not only a popular music style, but a famous dance style as well. This dance form is very emotional and includes romance and heatbreaks. Bachata, a word thought of as too vulgar or extremely rustic had a negative connotation. Dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo of the Dominican Republic was different than the rest because he did not take control over people or simply concentrate on political, economic, and military activities, but got involve with his people through music.

His favorite genre was merengue. With that said, the development of bachata was severely influenced because of him, even if it did not develop until after his death (Hernandez). His love for merengue was a bit extreme when he established merengue as the country’s national music; therefore if one did not dance merengue was not Dominican. In result, he repressed all type of music that had African characteristics. Many factors contributed to bachata being viewed as a negative. Upper-class Dominican individuals looked down upon the lower-class and bachata because it was dance during gatherings; the gatherings included nothing but bachata music drinks, laughter, and good times (Jim). However despite its negativities, censorship, to denigration and into (almost) extinction, it became a great phenomenon.

After Trujillo’s assassination in 1961, bachata songs were recorded, however it was still not heard outside the Dominican Republic. Bachata is made up of guitar and percussion instruments such as maracas, clave, and guira. It is a mix of Bolero music with much African influences. Bachata music was, and still is, a form of expressing feelings; it is a way of explaining fights, expressing love, jealousy or any related topic. Because bachata tells real-life situations it is considered to be low-quality, unacceptable, and denigrated music. Not to mention, the places in where it was danced were also not the most “elegant” or accepted by society. Because bachata was viewed poorly and seen a night-life dance, the clothing is very outgoing. The women wear short dresses, shorts, high heels, loose hair, while the men reveal their chest, tight pants, and are much cleaned and well groomed. It was not until the 90s in which there was a petite shift into the bachata culture because many modifications occurred. Bachata went evolving throughout time and went from Modern Bachata (“freestyle”, poorly labeled, and more styling) to Rueda de Bachata (multiple patterns of movements and everyone following a single leader), and finally to Bachata tango (a mixture of Tango and Bachata with more dips, kicks, and spins) (Digital Gravity Media).

Like most Latin dances, Bachata is a partner dance that involves a male and a female dancer. The man leads as the female follows. This dance form is an intimate, sexy, “touching”, type of dance (Digital Gravity Media). The dance involves four small steps to the right and then again to the left; the last step is more of a taping on the floor (the leaders tap with their right foot and the follower with the left). The dance may be considered extremely sexy, but it is all up to the dancers and how intimate they want to get. The female’s (follower) hands are usually always wrapped around the males (leader) neck, while the men usually always have their hands wrapped around the women’s hips. Throughout the dance, different levels occur such as going up and down as one while moving the hips left and right. The movement of the hip, the Cuban Hip Motion, is all about shifting ones weight by bending and straightening the knees so that they allow the hips to “pop” (Digital Gravity Media). The legs are usually always intertwining with one another. When the dancers move and portray the feelings the song is evoking, it is like a story told with the own human body.

Bachata reinforces society norms. In other words, the society that we live in today is male driven like the stereotypical viewing of the man is the provider while the wife cares for the children. In this type of dance, like mentioned before, the male leads while the female dancer follows. The male dancer is the one who helps the female raise her hips, queues the spins, or guides her through the dance floor. It sure has changed overtime, but much of it remains the same today. Not only does the man guide the woman throughout the dance, but like mentioned before, in the story the dancers tell with their body, it is always the whole breakup, but I love you kind of scene, like in most of Aventura’s (famous young bachata artist) music videos. The dance could be thought of as a painting because it is indeed a partner dance, but the truth is that the spotlight is really only on the female, that is who everyone is looking at.

The sensual dance known as Bachata was developed in the Dominican Republic and slowly emerged in the start of 1980. It is heard, danced, and played in several places in the United States such as New York, Florida, and other east coast cities and states. Bachata might have had a rough beginning because, again, poverty, culture, and the fact that it portrayed a sense of rebellion. Despite its struggles, Bachata grew and will continue to grow because it is one of the most rapid growing Latin music around the world.


D. Jim. The History of Bachata Dance and Music. 2013. 7 Feb. 2014 .

Digital Gravity Media. A Brief History of Bachata. 2014. 7 Feb. 2014 .

Hernandez Pacini Deborah. Bachata: A Social History of Dominican Popular Music. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1995.

Ross, Karl. “The Other Dance Music.” Billboard Vol. 113, No. 17: 36.

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