The History of the Bachata Dance

With its origins in the Dominican Republic in the 1960s, the Bachata has Son and Bolero influences with a syncopated rhythm. And yet, it would be decades before the art form became a global phenomenon.

The Origins of Bachata

Bachata started with indigenous roots from the Taino culture, African rhythmic patterns, and Spanish influences from Europe. However, the sensual melodies and soulful beats are attributable to the Dominican Republic’s rich culture.

The romantic dance with the accompanying guitar began in brothels and bars in the 1960s-1970s, but dictator Trujillo banned it. He preferred Meringue and treated Bachata as a lower art form.

The Music That Inspired the Dance

Bachata combined heart-rendering love stories with maracas, heavy nylon string guitars, and romantic lyrics.

Notable Bachata musicians and their contributions include:

  • In 1962, Jose Manuel Calderon had the first Bachata composition, “Borracho de amor” or bitter music.
  • By the 1980s-1990s, Bachata was recognized by UNESCO as an “Intangible cultural heritage of humanity.”
  • Monchy y Alexandra and Aventura included guira and electric steel strings.
  • In 1992, Juan Luis Guerra won a Grammy for “Bachata Rosa.”
  • Other Bachata artists include Anthony Santos and Zacarias Ferreira.

The Evolution of Bachata Dance

Bachata became more common in the 1980s-1990s with other Latin dances on its development, including the Zouk and Tango with Sensual Bachata as it incorporates dips and exotic body movements. When the fusion style started, Bachata merged with other dance forms like Salsa, Hip-Hop, and Contemporary.

Bachata gained acceptance due to social media influences from Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok as dancers share tips and tutorials or post challenges. It is now accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds.

What Is Bachata Dance?

In exploring Bachata’s basic steps and movements, in its early stages, the dance went from front to back, but recent versions have it side to side. Bachata has eight beats, while the music has four beats per measure, and the hip movement is a sway.

If you want to take beginner Bachata dance lessons, the most dominant aspect is the hip action from the female partner. Hence, the partner work and connection in Bachata should be sensual and romantic.

To dance the Bachata:

  • With your arms up, hold your partner’s arms.
  • Step left 1, 2, 3, hip, step right 5, 6, 7, hip, and then repeat.
  • For the hip movements, straighten and bend the knee while keeping your heel up.

Different Styles of Bachata

Bachata includes various influences and styles. Among the most popular are:

Dominican Bachata

Traditional and closest to its roots with few turns, it includes free-style movements and bouncy footwork.

Sensual Bachata

Combining intricate work with a partner, the movements are slower and more sensual.

Moderna Bachata

Modern with traditional elements and heavy Bolero and Tango influences, maintain the hip movement on the four counts and emphasize the crosses.

Traditional Bachata

Still romantic, it has few turns and emphasizes dips with the hip movement on the fourth beat.


A fusion of Bachata and Tango from Turin, Italy, it includes the familiar “pop” count and characteristic tango kicks.

The Historical and Modern Uses of Bachata Dance

With Bachata’s role in social gatherings and courtship rituals, the dance became easy to incorporate into socials, community gatherings, and cultural centers. It evolved from a folk form to a global phenomenon with dance groups and in schools and studios.

DJs will play Bachata music, while some venues have live bands, and you can dance Bachata in bars, nightclubs, and lounges.

Dance enthusiasts can practice techniques in performances and competitions:

  • Bachata Congress Competitions include categories like choreography, couples, or teams.
  • Bachata Championships at regional and national levels let dancers showcase their style and skill sets.
  • The prestigious World Latin Dance Cup emphasizes fusion, sensual, and traditional Bachata dance forms.

Bachata Dance Classes at Fred Astaire

Bachata’s journey and its enduring popularity as a unique and passionate dance form are why it continues to evolve. With so many fantastic variations, it’s no wonder Bachata has a global dance following!

Learn how to Bachata dance by booking your first lesson online today!