I regret not starting Bachata sooner. I have been dancing for over 12 years and for the first 7 years, I just focused on doing Salsa. There are some things you can only experience in Bachata at a deeper level that you can’t quite experience in Salsa.
And honestly, as a dancer, I think it’s really important to explore different styles of dance. Each dance has its own personality. Its own community, its own flow. A great dancer knows how to incorporate other styles into their movements, that’s how you truly level up.
When I’m doing Salsa, I throw in Bachata flow movement and when I’m doing Bachata, I throw in Salsa flare and speed.
Here are 3 things you learn in Bachata as a Salsa Dancer:
- Slowing down is a good thing: Salsa is fast and complicated. The learning curve is so much longer to master than Bachata. When I started Bachata, what I noticed was that it was about speed. If Salsa is driving on a highway and doing donuts and doing tricks, Bachata is being with a group of friends on a beach. There’s a bonfire, the sun is setting, people are smiling, nobody is in a rush. Bachata forced me to slow down my mind and be more present. My racing mind, my racing heart, everything needs to slow down. It’s a form of mindfulness that I don’t quite get in Salsa. In fact, when I feel overwhelmed I turn on Bachata songs and dance to the flow, to feel more relaxed. Like I’m on a beach.
- It’s ok to miss a beat/move: When you first start Salsa it’s not very forgiving if you miss a beat. So is not rhythmically even (quick quick slow) and if you miss or don’t do the move on the right count, you’re left feeling frustrated. Bachata is equal beats and if you miss a move for the first 4 beats, you can do it in the next four beats. You miss a step, it’s easy to catch up and that just took the pressure off of me as a dancer. I learned to be a lot more forgiving of myself. You don’t really get that in Salsa. If you miss eight beats you miss eight beats and then often when you miss eight beats, you’re so hard on yourself, there’s a couple more basics there you lose to collect yourself.
- Connect with your partner, not the moves: My gosh in Salsa, for me, every time I would dance with a follower, the goal was to impress them, to blow them away as a dancer and to try my next trick on them. So much of my energy was spent on getting approval from partners. It became that my partner was just a vehicle for me to use to try my next move, or get them to smile. Bachata doesn’t ask for fancy moves, it asks for connection to the partner. It asks for more playfulness between you and your partner, I’ve done a lot more in isolations in Bachata because there’s time for it, music is not as fast than in Salsa. It’s about vibe in Bachata, more feel and flow as well. The little nuances, the little movements of the shoulder I can do with my partner.
I don’t think that any dancers should just be focused on one-style of dance. Not because it’s wrong but because you are closing yourself off to a world of growth, things you can take from one style of dance and bring it to another.
Each dance has it’s own personality, it’s own community, it’s own energy and so be open.
Explore, learn and grow!
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