What is Bachata?

Bachata is one of the most popular styles of social dance in the Kenyan Afro Latin dance scene.

Bachata originated from the Dominican Republic in the early 1960s and is used as the name to define the dance and the music. The Bachata dance basic steps comprise of a three step sequence with hip movement, followed by a tap on the fourth step. The dancers should have their knees slightly bent as the movement is more in the lower body than the upper body. When partnering, we have a lead and a follow who dance in a close or open hold or embrace.

Bachata music

In the early days, Bachata music was referred to as Musica del Amargue which can be loosely translated as the music of bitterness. This led to the music being disregarded by the elite as it was a genre born out of the bars, brothels and rural communities and was never played on radio or TV in the Dominican Republic.

The first Bachata song, “Borracho de amor”, was recorded in 1962 by José Manuel Calderón.

By the start of the 21st Century, Bachata had become widely accepted and became one of the most popular styles of Latin music.

A Bachata band is usually comprised of seven musical instruments: Requinto (which is a lead guitar), Segunda (that is Rhythm Guitar), Electric Guitar, Guitar, Bass Guitar, Bongos and Guira.

Types of Bachata Dance Styles

There are three generally recognized Bachata dance styles:

Dominican Bachata

The Dominican Bachata dance style is the authentic form that is danced in the Dominican Republic where the music also was born. The Dominican Bachata Basic Steps are danced in a square (side, side, forward and side, side, back) and danced with syncopations (steps in between the beats). The hold could either be in open or close embrace and there is a lot of playfulness in the footwork.

Bachata Moderna

Bachata Moderna employs a simpler side to side basic step with a change of direction after every tap. The partnerwork borrows its style from Salsa and Ballroom Dance. This style marries the Original Bachata with elements of the western style of dancing.

Bachata Sensual

Bachata Sensual was made popular in Spain. Bachata Sensual is a mix between dance and theatre with strict follow and lead principles. The dance is an interpretation of the music with mostly circular movements and body waves, except when the music has stronger beats, when the dance uses isolations and dips.

At The Nairobi Dance Project, we teach Dominican and Moderna styles of Bachata. This provides a wide range of movement possibilities for social dancing situations that will suit every dancer’s individual style and preference.