What Is the Bachata Dance? (A Step-By-Step Guide)

May 28, 2017

Bachata DanceIf you want to introduce some spice and flavor into your dance moves, bachata dance is the perfect place to start.

This social dance has its roots in the Dominican Republic. It’s a Latin dance based around a traditional eight-count beat, with a tempo similar to, yet distinct from, salsa.

Today, we’re breaking down the basic moves of traditional bachata dance.

Ready to get started? Let’s go!

1. Bachata Dance: The Starting Position

To begin, stand with your feet together, and bend your knees just a little.

Bend your arms ninety degrees and place your hands, palm down, on the high part of your torso, just above your waist.

As an alternative, some people prefer to start their bachata dance with their arms hanging loosely by their sides. Both ways are fine to start.

2. 1st Four Beats: The Basic Side Step

As previously mentioned, this dance has eight beats. The basic side step will cover the first four of these beats.

1st Beat: Move your left leg out to the side and put your weight on it.

2nd Beat: Bring your right leg to your left leg to join your legs back together. As you join your legs, move your weight over to your right leg.

3rd Beat: Repeat your moves for the 1st beat, moving your left leg to the side and putting your weight back on your left leg.

4th Beat: This move is similar to the 2nd beat one. Bring your right leg over to join your left leg, but this time, as you’re bringing your legs together, keep the weight on your left leg and raise your hip slightly. Your heel should rise off the floor just a little.

3. 2nd Four Beats: The Reverse Return Step

For the return step, you’ll just repeat what you did in the Basic Side Step, only everything will be in reverse.

To transition from the 4th step, drop your right hip but keep your weight on your left leg. Here’s a quick overview of the next four steps:

5th Beat: Move your right leg out to the side and put your weight on this leg.

6th Beat: Bring your left leg to your right leg to join your legs back together. As you join your legs, move your weight over to your left leg.

7th Beat: Repeat your moves for the 1st beat, moving your right leg to the side and putting your weight back on your right leg.

8th Beat: Bring your left leg over to join your right leg. As you’re bringing your legs together, keep the weight on your right leg and raise your hip slightly.

4. Basic Moves with a Partner

Though there are a few different ways to partner up for the bachata dance, one of the easiest ways for beginners is to start with an open embrace.

Stand right across from your partner, with both of your elbows bent by your sides. The lead will turn his palms up and grasp the follow’s hand.

From there, the two dancers will mirror each other’s moves. If the lead is going right, the follow will go left, and so on.

To signal which side to start on, the lead will shift the pair’s weight onto one leg and will move the opposite leg out. From there, the remaining steps will fall into place.

Tips to Remember

As you listen to the music, you’ll soon be able to “feel” the beat. Some modern dance clubs actually play a modernized, more urban form of bachata music that incorporates percussion that sounds on every beat, making it even easier to grasp.

Try to focus on the movement of your hips, especially on Steps 4 and 8. Eventually, as the moves become more natural, your hips should roll up smoothly and continuously.

Above all else, have fun! Bachata is meant to be a joyous and simple dance, and after a little practice, you should have the hang of it in no time!

If you’d like to learn more about different styles of dance, from swing to the mambo, we’d love to help. Check out our website for step-by-step instructions and feel free to contact us if you have any questions!

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