Bachata, How to Lead?

Whether you are just starting to dance Bachata or looking to learn and want some quick hacks on leading in Bachata here are some tips to be a great Bachata leader.

Remember You are a Lefty!

In most Latin dances, including Salsa, Kizomba, Zouk and Merengue the leader always starts with the left foot. So after placing your feet together, you’d move outwards with your left foot to a side shuffle. Then, bring your right foot in, followed by another shuffle with the left foot and a tap with the toes of your right foot on the fourth count. On five your right foot steps out to the side. Your left comes together on six and you step out with your right on seven. You tap with your left on eight. 

The same thing applies if you want to dance back and forth. As a leader, you’re always going to lead with your left foot forward first. So to be a better Bachata leader the first tip is to remember to start with your left foot. 

Be Prepared

You can’t be a good Bachata leader if you can’t lead your partner into turns. An essential turn in Bachata is the “Inside” turn. Before turning, you have to signal the move to your partner by doing what is known as a “C-Prep.”

To practice this move, stand still and, with your left hand, imagine you are drawing a capital C in the air from the bottom up. To add counts to your practice, bring your hand down, and on one to start drawing your C. Bring your left hand out on two to draw the bottom curve of the C. On three you should bring your hand up and your C should be complete. On four when you tap, you are fingertip to fingertip with your partner’s hand slightly above their head. Once you have the count for the hands, you can add the steps. Step out on one as you bring your hand down to draw the C. Bring your feet together as you draw the bottom curve of the C. Step out on three as you bring your hand up. Finally, you tap on four and should be fingertip to fingertip. On five, six, seven and eight you stir inside (towards your own body) to give the follower a turn. So the second tip to be a great Bachata leader is to master the C-Prep. 

Be a Smooth Operator

A smooth lead turn in Bachata will make your partner perceive you as an experienced dancer. Most beginners start the turn by stirring wide and pulling upwards. This causes the follower to be unstable and you can get off beat very easily. A fun way to describe this common mistake is to imagine a soft-serve ice cream cone at Dairy Queen where the ice cream starts at the base and then swirls up. What you want to do is draw a halo around your partner’s head. 

So when turning your partner, bring your hand close to your partner’s face and draw a halo around their head. If you are doing a left turn, try to have your hand close to the follower’s left ear. Or aim for the right ear if you are doing a right turn. Smooth motions and a tiny halo will help you stay on beat and your follower feel in control. So tip number three to be a better Bachata Leader is to be smooth. 

Feel the Rhythm

As a leader, you will need to dance on beat. In Bachata, you start the dance on one. To recognize the initial beat that signals when you need to start dancing, start listening to more Bachata Music

In Bachata there is often a rise in the music and this is often the indicator of the first beat or the one. This is when you start to dance by moving your left foot. See what I did there? Remember the first tip is that you are a lefty! You can recognize it because usually the instruments get louder or the singer has a little more energy. But, of course, this takes more practice and attention to the music; therefore, we cover this topic quite a bit in classes. So my final tip to be a great Bachata leader is to dance on beat. 

If you want to learn to be a better Bachata Follower, click on the link. 

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