In today’s wide world of professional and social dancing, nightlife and entertainment, there is a unique and very romantic music genre and dance style called Bachata. Bachata has revolutionized the dance scene not only in NYC, but worldwide. For those who enjoy this type of music and dance, but don’t know much about its origin in the Dominican Republic, as a fan of this beautiful genre, I’d like to summarize what you need to know about this sensual, spicy and artistic form of dance and music, and the artists who perfected this culture in the world of music.
Bachata, no doubt, became a leading form of dance, as Salsa, in the world of Latin Dance. Even with iconic musicians, such as, Romeo Santos, Prince Royce, Luis Vargas, and Antony Santos, Bachata was not as popular in the past as it is today. Its origins can be traced back to the beginning of the 20th century, as it was a mix of Bolero (a slow and sensual dance) and African elements At that time, due to the sharp class separation in the Dominican Republic, Bachata was considered unrefined entertainment.
Bachata was isolated and not recognized for some time, and due to its “heartbreaking” lyrics, it was confined to local bars and cabarets. In fact, since it was considered dance music for the “underprivileged class”, it was confined to poor neighborhoods even during the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo, without any hopes to be performed or played in more refined circles of society. It wasn’t until 1961 that the first Bachata single was recorded by Jose’ Manuel Calderon, “Borracho de Amor” and “Que sera’ de mi,” and performed with the simplest musical orchestration—guitars, bongo’ drums and vocals.
As time passed, and the stereotyping of Bachata music remained the same for some time, it eventually started to develop into a very sensual and romantic type of dance, expressing sexuality, while dancing in close embrace with sensual hip movements, provoking partners to express passion, similar to Bolero.
Artists such as, Luis Segura, Leonardo Paniagua and Victor Victor, took the lead, interpreting and promoting the evolution of Bolero and Bachata, as they became “the fathers” of the earliest expression in the Bachata movement of the late 70’s and 80’s.
Modern artists such as, Juan Luis Guerra, Romeo Santos and Prince Royce, have won many prominent international music awards, including Latin Grammys, opening doors for this sensual dance in its many variations.
From traditional Dominican Bachata dance, Street Style, to the Sensual and Stylized Batacha of today, using different “shine” techniques and variety of different styles, Bachata became a diverse expression of this original Dominican dance and music today.
What is the progress and development of Bachata today? Well, with so many different variations, it created divisions and controversy in the Latin dance audience. Also, there are new interpretations of the lyrics, expressing a new wave of modern Bachata, with more instrumentation and sound effects, developing a different form based on original music, and creating more interesting genre. All these variations have contributed to the popularity of this dance, as well as expanding record sales, inspiring more artists to join the genre. With all these variations and controversy, more revenue for Bachata means it is here to stay for decades to come, expanding its audience worldwide.
From the Yankee Stadium to Madison Square Garden, Bachata artists, such as Romeo Santos, Luis Vargas and Antony Santos have filled venues to capacity since 2013.
To complete my story about Bachata, I invite you to experience and enjoy all the new and original styles of Bachata—the dance of love and romance.
Miguel A. Elias.
Photo Franklin Liranzo & from archives InLove magazine
To subscribe or purchase the magazine http://inlovemag.com/subscribe/