All About Bachata: Traditional VS Sensual Bachata

Posted by Tina Lee-Almazar on

Here at Yami dance shoes, we’re all about the bachata dance style. It’s one of the most popular dance styles at social dances. You know our Latin dance shoes, but what about the actual dance style? How much do you know about Bachata? 

Bachata originated in the Dominican Republic. This dance style is connected with bachata music. 

Bachata's dance sequence is conducted in a full 8 count, moving within a square comprised of 3 steps and then a tap or double step. You can dance the bachata on any beat as long as the primary sequence is maintained. Bachata is performed in a close position. The hand placement varies, but they're often very close to the dance partner’s body, like almost dancing while in an embrace. 

Since its introduction to the west in the 90s, bachata’s steps have evolved. Modern bachata is more dynamic; the steps include a tap and syncopations. Some dancers are free-styling between traditional and sensual bachata in either close and open positions.

3 Different Types of Bachata

Dominican Bachata

There are three different types of bachata, but the Dominican bachata is the original dance step. This dance style has been around since the 60s in its native Dominican Republic but was only popularized in the US during the 90s.

Bachata is a romantic dance style, but the Dominican bachata is relatively relaxed compared to the more recent versions. The original bachata style is focused on the movement of the feet (side, side, forward and side, side, back). Not necessarily the footwork but the harmony between the feet movements and the musical instruments. The key to a mesmerizing performance is the deep connection between the dance partners and the music.

Bachata is derived from Bolero; that’s why the square-like dance steps are similar. But Dominican bachata has changed over the years; instead of being danced in a closed position, some dancers began dancing in half-open and fully open positions. The original Dominican bachata is performed all over the Caribbean, and the music progressed from slow and romantic to upbeat and modern. More footwork and turns have been added but always with a tap and a small “pop” of the hip on the fourth beat!

Sensual Bachata (Bachata Moderna)

Sensual bachata AKA Bachata Moderna originated in Spain. It's a fairly contemporary dance style, created by Jorge Escalona alias Korke in 2005. The basic dance steps of sensual bachata are rooted in traditional bachata, but the styling and dance elements are heavily influenced by salsa, tango, zouk, and ballroom dancing. Also, modern elements from hip-hop add flair to this romantic dance style. 

Sensual bachata is still danced on 8 counts with a tap on the fourth and eighth count. It has more slides, and the footwork is more complex. Also, the styling and movements are accentuated. Because of the added styling and footwork, sensual bachata is more demanding. Also, bachata Moderna is smoother, and the movements are focused on the hips and chest with many body waves. 

Bachata Tango 

This is the most recent version of the bachata dance style, and as the name implies, it is heavily fused with tango. Essentially, bachata tango is sensual bachata mixed with tango. It's a romantic dance style and very similar to Tango Argentino. Unlike the two bachata versions, this one is all about romance. The dance steps are focused on conveying passion and not so much about the footwork. Bachata tango isn't as popular as traditional and sensual bachata in the social dance scene, and it's why many are surprised that this fusion dance style exists at all.

Traditional VS Sensual Bachata: Which should You Master?

If you want to impress your partner on your next social dance event, why not try mastering any of these bachata varieties? If you’re unsure which one to try, here are our tips:

Choose what fits your personality: While it’s tempting to choose the trendier dance style, you’re better off listening to your gut. Go with what you love. Choose the dance style that suits your personality and style. 

Experiment: If you’re torn between modern and traditional bachata, go ahead and experiment with different dance styles. The beauty of social dancing is that you can explore whatever dance you’d like to try, whatever suits your mood. 

Master the dance style: If you’re the type who wants to specialize in a specific dance style or you’re a competitive dancer, go ahead and choose what feels right for you and master the style. Practice makes perfect; you’ll become an expert in the bachata dance style the more time you spend practicing!

Now that you know the history of the dance styles and the different versions of bachata, you can start trying those smooth moves on the dance floor!  Go ahead, have fun with bachata at your next social dance event. And don’t forget to pack your favorite pair of Yami dance shoes!