What is Bachata?
Bachata is a dance that originated in the Dominican Republic. Like Salsa, Bachata Dancing grew from Bachata Music. Bachata music has its origins in Cuban son, boleros and Afro-Caribbean rhythms. In its infancy, both Bachata music and Bachata Dancing were considered crude and not fit for regular society. Couple that snobbery with a stifling dictatorship in the Dominican Republic, and Bachata was largely kept “underground” until the dictatorship was overthrown. So the spread of Bachata has been much more recent than that of Salsa.
Emerging from the Underground
Once the era of oppressive censorship ended in 1961, Dominican musicians were able to start recording Bachata songs. The term “Bachata” (which is the term for a casual party) was used by higher society in the DR to insult the music and the dance, but musicians and dancers alike embraced the term, with musicians calling themselves “Bachateros”.
The original form is very different from what is danced today. Despite the efforts of upper-class society to push the music and the dance form down, it continued to gain popularity in the Dominican Republic and finally, in the 1980’s the popularity of Bachata could not be ignored – radio stations in the DR began to play more of it regularly and the music and dance form began to gain wider acceptance. As a result of this new widespread popularity, more Dominican musicians began to take part in the Bachata movement and the music and dance began to evolve.
As the music began to spread beyond the borders of the DR, so did the dance – coming to North America in the 1990s, Bachata was taken up by Latinos and non-Latinos alike, with many communities taking the simple dance form and putting their stamp and flavour on it.
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