How to Dance Bachata

Learn how to dance bachata with the help of Latin Dance Company Joel Salsa in these Howcast dance videos.

The Bachata is a sensual and soulful dance that brings energy to the dance floor. It incorporates heavy hip-swaying and primarily focuses on lower body movements to add passion to the dance. Bachata dancing has four basic steps that repeat, which makes it easy to learn for beginners! Learn how to dance bachata with the help of Latin Dance Company Joel Salsa in these free Howcast dance videos.

History of the Bachata

Bachata dancing was created in the Dominican Republic during the mid-1900s. The dance was a combination of Cuban son dance, African beats, and bolero music. It originally focused on loss and heartbreak, mainly being performed on street corners and bars in impoverished neighborhoods. For this reason, the bachata had a poor reputation. At the time, the country’s dictator, Rafael Trujillo, also publicly denounced the dance as being low-class.

When Trujillo was assassinated in the early 1960s, however, the dance became popular due to a greater sense of freedom within the country. 20 years later, the dance spread to the U.S. when many Dominicans immigrated over. The dance quickly became a hit and is still performed widely today.

How to Bachata

The steps of bachata dancing are fairly straightforward, but perfecting the powerful hip movements takes some time. With enough practice and dedication, you’ll be able to dance the bachata like a pro!

Body Position

While the dance is quite sensual, there is still a little bit of room left between partners. The man’s left hand will extend out at the hip level to meet the woman’s right hand. A man’s right hand will be in the middle of a woman’s back, while the woman’s left arm will sit above with their hand resting atop a man’s right shoulder.

Counting

The bachata is one of the easiest dances to count because each step takes just one beat in 4/4 time. It is counted in beats of eight similar to salsa, but the main difference is that there are no pauses in bachata. This means that counting is as simple as: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. If it’s easier, you can also count to four and repeat the count, like 1, 2, 3, 4 – 1, 2, 3, 4.

How to Do the Bachata Basic Side-to-Side

Now that you know the basics of bachata dancing, it’s time to put them together with some footwork! The key characteristic of the dance is heavy hip movement, but it’s easier for beginners to first practice the steps before putting everything together. Here’s how you can do the Bachata Basic Side-to-Side:

  • Leader steps to the side with their left foot, follower steps to the side with their right foot.
  • Leader closes by bringing their right foot next to their left foot, follower will do the same by bringing their left foot next to their right foot.
  • Leader steps to the side again with their left foot, follower will step to the side with their right foot. 
  • Leader now taps their right foot next to their left foot while keeping most of their weight on their left foot. Follower mirrors by tapping their left foot next to their right foot, keeping most weight on their right foot. 
  • Leader will then step to the side with their right foot, follower will do the same by stepping to the side with their left foot. 
  • Leader closes by bringing their left foot next to their right foot, follower will bring their right foot next to their left foot. 
  • Leader will step to the side again with their right foot, follower mirrors by stepping to the side with their left foot. 
  • Leader will tap their left foot next to their right foot, again keeping most of their weight on their right foot. Follower will tap their right foot next to their left foot, maintaining most of their weight on their left foot. 
  • This concludes the basic side-to-side steps of the dance, which will now repeat from here. It’s important to keep weight on your non-tapping foot during tap steps so that you can step back to the side after tapping! 
  • Once you’re comfortable with the steps, begin incorporating heavy, almost exaggerated, hip-swaying into your steps to dance the bachata properly!

Start Bachata Dancing Today!

You should now have a solid foundation for how to dance the bachata! Explore the rest of the videos in this series below to learn more moves and advanced techniques. 

ABOUT THE EXPERT

Joel Salsa

Joel Salsa is a Latin dance company based in NYC offering many different styles and levels of dances such as salsa, bachata and zumba. Their instructors are professional and classes are taught not only with numbers, but with authentic music to give students a deeper understanding of how to feel the rhythm and interpret it into steps and partner work. This is what gives Joel Salsa a very different vibe from other dance companies that allows them to stand out from the rest!