Why I don’t dance bachata anymore (or, the real problems with sensual bachata)

Introductory caveat 1: People often complain about the appropriation of sensual bachata and the like. I am referring to the whole “sensual bachata isn’t bachata” debate. I think there are merits to both sides of the argument, and I won’t go into them here. I want to be clear that I don’t disparage sensual bachata in and of itself. I enjoy the movements, when executed well. When inclusive with a range of other styles and skillsets, sensual bachata moves can be a really great way to be musical and express different emotions in a dance.

Introductory caveat 2: I love bachata. This article is not a critique of the dance as a whole. From the spiciest traditional to the slowest and most lyrical remix, I enjoy it all. I have a deep love for this dance that I feel, at it’s best, is romantic, is playful, is relaxing, is exciting, is intimate, and is respectful all at the same time.

But…

Unfortunately, I find that bachata is rarely at it’s best, or near it, for me any more.

This is for a lot of reasons, but perhaps most of all that the community has grown rapidly and in specific ways that I find unpleasant.

This rapid growth is associated with several things: the proliferation of congresses and congress culture, the sensationalization of bachata in youtube videos, a focus on performance, and the rise and proliferation of sensual bachata. I do not mean to say that sensual bachata is entirely to blame for this – nor the instructors of sensualism – as it and they are not. But there’s a lot here that’s complexly interwoven. The growth of congresses and performance parts of the culture, for example, are very much related to the rise of sensual bachata.

That being said, this post is about the culture of bachata, how it has changed, and why I’m starting to lose interest in it. Here’s what has happened:

Sexualization

First, there are the movements. Plain and simple – they are often sexual. Of course sensual moves do not have to be executed in a sexual way, or one does not have to choose to do the more sexual variants offered up on YouTube – but they often are. To be clear, I don’t mind sexy moves. And I certainly don’t mind mutually desired intimacy. The leaders I dance with would be happy to attest to both of those things.

Yet sexy has a time and a place. It’s not appropriate 100% of the time. During Pablo Alboran’s Perdoname (this is arguably one of the sweetest and most romantic bachata songs), for example, I was once led in a move that required me to squat down to the ground and then stand up ass first with my leader standing behind me. Like, what?

What’s more, popular couples must look a particularly sexy way in order to be popular. This bothers me so much. Think of all the famous couples you know of. Are any of them not sexy, or do any of them not sexualize their dancing and their videos? (You could make similar arguments of salsa, lambazouk and kizomba [though not swing] – but I would argue that bachata has accelerated its demand for sexiness in recent years).

Promoters in the scene are not necessarily to blame for this. They’re trying to make it. Sex sells. It’s just unfortunate that it’s such a predominant component of selling bachata these days. Watching famous sensual bachata videos online is simultaneously for me super boring and pretty off putting. Yeah, I get it, you’re going to do a body roll and do one of those dramatic hand gestures and look at your leader like you want to eat him. You’re “sexy.” I know.

-Objectification

While we’re talking about sex – and I will throughout the entirety of this post – let’s talk about the way women’s bodies are used.

Consider perhaps that move that  I discussed above, in which I had to ass stand up in front of my leader, while he just stood there and watched.

Consider perhaps dipping a woman and staring at her tits while she can’t see you do it.

Consider perhaps going to a workshop by Andrea and Silvia, in which the workshop is basically objectifying sex joke after objectifying sex joke.

Objectification is super real in this dance.

-Self-aggrandizement

The current bachata culture is one of self-aggrandizement if I’ve ever seen one. Obviously, of course, as an instructor or a couple trying to make it in the bachata scene, you have to promote yourself. I respect the effort this takes immensely. I really do.

Nevertheless, I find the atmosphere that competitions bring to bachata in general to be kind of toxic. It encourages people to focus on building up their image before building up the quality of their dancing. People often begin training to perform without being good social dancers, develop egos about their dancing without having social dancing skills, and walk around like male peacocks – proud of their flashy feathers but having more awkward movement because of them.

Focus on appearances over communication

Bachata looks pretty cool to a lot of people. This is certainly the case for sensual bachata, though performance teams and couples typically integrate more “traditional” music and dance into the second half of their performances.

When dancers compete as a couple or join a performance team – which a huge number of people interested in bachata do – they often focus on the way a dance looks or the moves it has as opposed to how it feels.

I wrote about this problem for performance teams at great length in this blog post, so I won’t belabor the point too much here. I will say this: the majority of “famous” bachata leaders I have danced with are atrociously rough. The vast majority of bachata leaders who focus on performance but aren’t famous yet are even worse. The thing is, with all the focus on looking and being cool, often the literal best parts of a dance (connection, communication, togetherness) are left in the dust.

For more on my thoughts on how to cultivate quality connection, check out this post on the technique of quality connection, or this post on playfulness.

-Party atmosphere

I readily acknowledge that  all dance scenes have parties. Lots of parties. But I would argue that there’s something particularly party-centric about bachata today.

This has to do with growth of the scene, for one.

I also think it has to do with the fact that the new bachata crowd – the sensual crowd – is by and large a fair bit younger than other dance crowds.

The youthful, kind of reckless enthusiasm of bachata parties feels a lot like a frat house to me. This was always the case, but now that the scene has grown so much, and become so young and full of people eager to show off or be sexy, it’s simply multiplied. I wish to be clear that we find egregious drunkenness and after parties in all the scenes. But bachata dancers often like to party so much they organize enormous pre- and after- parties even months before the event. In fact, I think this is a pretty big draw of bachata. Many people enjoy it simply for the burgeoning congress culture of going to a new city and being super lit all weekend. This is fine, I guess, I’m just not into it, and too old (emotionally) to be bothered.

-Inconsiderate crowd

The other night I was at a bachata social. I stood by the wall a lot and watched. I found myself growing increasingly agitated and disappointed by what I was seeing.

Elbows were flying, leaders were leading big moves without looking behind themselves, people were walking through the dancefloor disrupting various couples’ dances without seeming to care in the slightest.

Of course – again – you can find this in any dance scene, and especially if you go to the more clubby venues or congresses.

But I will say that I think that more experienced dancers tend to develop a more considerate ethos. Sensual bachata has simply brought in an influx of people who haven’t been around that long, so they don’t know better.  I also think that people who are drawn to the more party-oriented or sex-chasing components of this developing scene have a bit less consideration than those who join dance for different reasons. There is a small difference between bachata and other dances in this regard (people are self-absorbed everywhere), but I think the difference is real.

More disrespectful men

Unfortunately, I think the image of bachata nowadays and the potential for physical intimacy, sensuality, and sexuality of it all draws more men who are interested in specifically sexual connection and hooking up  than some of the other dances.

Of course – we find this in all dance communities. And if it’s done respectfully (not altogether often, at least in my experience), I’m cool with it. I have plenty of my own experience experimenting with it. But I find that the more intimate dances, and the more sensual they become over time, the more people it attracts who are in it for the sensuality alone.

The proportion of men in the bachata scene who have obnoxiously propositioned me (out of the blue, without any understanding or seeming care for who I am as a person, with their own pleasure or conquest in mind), is a fair bit higher than in, say, salsa, or swing.

-Lack of clear understanding of  boundaries, or willingness to communicate about them

Given that sensual bachata is a more intimate and sensual dance, I think it causes many people, and particularly men, to presume that they can initiate more intimate contact without any real grounds on which to do so.

In other words, many people think that just because someone is having  a sexy dance with them, that they can take sexual liberties with this person.

I cannot remember the last time I went to a bachata event and was not kissed on the lips, entirely uninvited, by at least one leader. I cannot remember. It’s a regular occurrence, and often more than one guy a night.

-Less active communication and playfulness from leaders

In a culture in which people are a bit more moves-oriented than others, in terms of its emphasis on competitions and performance teams, it’s sort of a given that there will be less freedom and flexibility in terms of which moves are executed. That is, in bachata today, people don’t seem to care much about connection and communication. They seem to care more about sexiness and looking cool.

I do not mean to disparage bacahta specifically (or sensual bachata) in this regard (though I will say traditional bachata often has a playfulness that sensual bachata does not).

Instead, I would like to elevate other dances that I think do the creative-communicating better than bachata: lambada is pretty good at it; salsa can be extraordinary at it (if you find the right dancers); west coast swing is almost always extraordinary at it.

I have found over time that I thrive off of this sort of communication. I find it intellectually stimulating. I find it emotionally compelling. I find it fun. I find that I get to be listened to and heard, and danced with rather than danced at.  I call people who lead and follow in this style “co-creators.” A very small number of leaders in bachata find ways to actively invite this kind of communication. But the number who do compared to other dances is vanishingly small. Because of the focus on executing cool sensual moves, bachata is nowadays a dance in which you have certain moves you lead and follow, without much space for play and creativity.

What this all means

This doesn’t mean much. I know very well that I am just talking quietly into the void. Bachata will be what bachata will be, whether I protest certain elements of it or not. I think that over time some of these hiccups will settle themselves, others may need some work, and others will probably be the same for a long time.

There are some incredibly talented leaders, instructors, promoters, performers, men, women, genders of all varieties in bachata, with extraordinary respect, care, integrity, and dignity in their dancing. They will continue to exist. I hope their representation grows in number.

I have also written a post about sexism in dance communities. This applies to all dance communities, and I think it’s highly relevant to discussions like this one.

All of which is to say, these are the reasons I’m not really into bachata much these days. It’s a shame, because I love the dance. Fortunately, the London salseros have picked up the slack, and then some.

I would, as always, be eminently excited by and grateful for your thoughts.

197 Comments, RSS

  1. Vickie May 18, 2017 @ 5:21 pm

    I completely agree with your assessment of the bachata scene. Especially since having moved to Barcelona, Spain, I no longer feel like dancing bachata everyday as they primarily like sensual bachata. The problem is that they don’t really even dance to the music but instead complete a series of poses in which the lead maneuvers the follow into overtly sensual puppet-like moves while he observes. I am so not interested in the form of “dance”. It’s disheartening because I love Bachata!

    • Stefani May 18, 2017 @ 5:28 pm

      I feel you Vickie <3 <3 <3

      • La Rosa August 22, 2017 @ 3:36 pm

        well you shouldnt let this hold you back from dancing bachata.. just find a few dance partners that like to dance conservative bachata, or at parties you can just say that you only dance conservative. ive been dancing bachata for a few months now and there are certain things i dont like either, like its a rule that you cant say no if a man askes you to dance because its considered rude.. i often say no i dont care..! I dont just dance with anyone, sometimes i like to sit and just watch other people dance.. but i also dont like the fact that their are so many diffrent bachata styles how would you dance bachata with someone that doesnt know ure style.. and the figures/footwork also differ from other dance school.. it happened to me often that someone wanted to do a figure but i didnt know that one. I actually like dancing bachata solo more than with partner.

    • Stacey May 23, 2017 @ 9:39 pm

      OMG!!! You literally took the words right out of my friend’s and I’s mouths!!! The dance scene in NY in general has been plagued by all of this and obnoxious egos that takes the joy away from my hobby. What used to be a release to me, causes cringe at the thought of going and dealing with all that! Let’s not mention the animosity amongst the dancers and the need to feel and believe that they are better than the others. #GetOverYourselves I truly enjoyed your post and feel IMMENSELY relieved that we (my friend and I) are not the only ones who feel like this!

      • Mari October 23, 2019 @ 1:48 pm

        Yes! 100% agree, my love for social dancing started to diminish the second I moved to NY. The scene is toxic and the egos are everywhere…. it’s so sad to see.

    • Jason May 24, 2017 @ 7:41 pm

      I was introduced to bachata several years ago and was mesmerized by it. The woman who introduced it to me was intoxicatingly hypnotizing in her fluidity. We danced other styles before doing Latin together, so I was accustomed to as you put it—co-creating— with her. Her Latin was so much stronger than mine, it was almost as if she back lead which wasn’t at all a problem. The respect I had for her completely prevented me from being lost in the desire by the dancer, this dance brought out in her 🙂 To that point I didn’t realize a dance could be THAT sensual!

      I saw all that to say, that point of what a persons catalyst for dancing largely dictates the type of dancer they will become; because it’s a reflection of the person they are!

      It’s takes time to learn that the connectiveness of this and other dances that suggest it, don’t mean a connection outside of those moments; especially if you’re a “romantic” single looking to rebuild and heal from past relational heartshreds.

      Each community has to educate itself and those who visit on the language they are about to engage in.

      I wholehearted agree that bachata def accentuates the sex in sexy. At times it’s actually off putting truth me told. It’s insulting when the females who are already physical standouts, where rights wurh writing in their asses that spell out what is all to clearly seen. Like he captain obvious really, wiggle, juicy etc etc on your behind at that point is distracting. The guys as you said have little art but to exploit the butt (pun clearly intended…)

      Not that I’m ANYWHERE near approximating your level but I don’t enjoy that community. I luv the dance when danced with women who don’t present in such a singular stereotype.

      Regardless of the community, I hope the dancers motivated by the art and the healing community bring, will rise to its tops and set a standard that allows both men and women to enjoy all the benefits of dancing “with” one another and if the stars align and both see the signs, feel safe to continue their conversation off the floor as they see fit 🙂

    • Viviana October 16, 2018 @ 6:42 pm

      Im here right with you. Oh my those sensual bachata and Kizomba stuff. Sensual bachata look like worm moving around and kizomba is just dry humping. Sorry I may be express to harsh but it does look just like it. So I’m stick with my good old Afro salsa dance. The dance look like real and joy and interacting with partners truly. 🙂

      • Suzie November 29, 2018 @ 9:17 pm

        You called it worm movement, we called it epilepsy kind of movement dance 😬🤧😁

    • Suzie November 29, 2018 @ 9:15 pm

      I agree with you Vickie. Thanks for pouring down your thoughts here Stefani. This is happening in Oslo too. And I agree with you that mostly people who haven’t been around for a while who love dancing sensual bachata because they doesn’t know any better. Absolutely! Solution for us is to find an original Latino club where Latinos hang out 😉 have fun and don’t let them kill your love for bachata ❤️🎉

  2. Robert Rice May 18, 2017 @ 5:23 pm

    Why call bachata and also mambo “afro-latin”? They are pure latin dance and music. I am not educated on the exact history of bachata, but Salsa dance and music has african, taino indian, spanish, and European influences that came together in Latin America. Salsa is a mix of these things. It is not a mixture of African and Latin elements because the Latin elements themselves are a mixture. Even the Son Clave is pure Latin American. The clave sticks and 6/8 rhythm came from Africa but the Son Clave rhythm is a Cuban development. Sometimes the dance has more or less African or European influences. i.e. people like to mix a lot of Orisha movements into their dancing now days are exhibiting a more afro style or Afro-Cuban style (Orishas are danced a little different in Cuba than in West Africa). Others like to focus on multiple turn patterns using ballet technique. Proper use of “afro-latin” might be used to describe Neo-Kizomba or Urban Kiz. Because there you are mixing an African dance Kizomba with tango technique and other Latin dance movements.

    • Remie May 19, 2017 @ 9:25 am

      Robert, I feel you completely missed the point on this article.

    • Mi May 19, 2017 @ 1:05 pm

      … Because they are.
      You just admitted you’re not educated on the exact history but claim it isn’t. Do that, and you’ll learn so as well.

      Kiozmba is actually just “Afro” (as it is Angolan) and not Afro-Latin, it just happens to be danced in the Latin dance scene.

      • Julio May 20, 2017 @ 9:03 pm

        Thanx for educating Robert but I thinking if he really wanted to be educated rather than launch into an uninformed diatribe he would have actually educated himself on the topic which he chose to speak on. In the final analysis. as someone said above, he missed the point of the article by focusing a non essential part of its narrative ….I mean totally missed it

    • T May 20, 2017 @ 7:05 pm

      The fact that you’re hung up on the racial origins out of all the good points this article had should have been another aspect of this article… racism on the dance floor. I’m not implying that you are but your comments made me think how the Latin community continues to shun & not acknowledge their African descent only Indigenous to the point it has become obvious and has made the dance floor less enjoyable as well.

      • Julio May 20, 2017 @ 9:07 pm

        You are sooooo right about that. But as u said that is for another – and much longer- article that I doubt many are brave enough to even acknowledge mucj less write about!

    • dancer June 6, 2017 @ 1:46 pm

      Dear Robert,

      I see what you mean.
      You showed the point, which people mix, because of the lack of knowledge about the history of these dances Salsa, Bachata. They are the products of latin american culture and must be protected, as well as the dances from africa.
      People who create the dance events e.g. in europa (because I am in Europe) call everything danced with similar names to attract people (advertising the well sounding words) and most people get a superficial knowledge about the dances.

      I appreciate your comment.
      Cheers from Vienna

    • Beto May 14, 2018 @ 6:07 am

      The fact that Robert called attention to the redundant use of the term “afro-latin” does not mean he missed the point of the article. He is correct. Bachata, as a Latin dance, includes those elements. If the author wants to stress a particular element, s/he can do so with a subordinate sentence. And yes, i am educated on the matter.

  3. Rose May 18, 2017 @ 5:36 pm

    Yes thank you for your comment about Andrea and Silvia’s workshops! I went to one and those objectifying jokes were really disturbing – partly because of what was said and partly because no one else appeared to be bothered.

  4. Arien May 18, 2017 @ 5:41 pm

    Hi –

    I enjoyed your article and have already flagged a few others of interest (great hyperlinking :)) that I’ll want to read soon as well. I’ve been to London a few times (I’m based in Los Angeles) and just generally speaking the scene in the UK and Europe seems to be a lot more sensual than it is in the states for sure, so I would take that into consideration. I think your initial description of bachata at its best is certainly something to always aspire toward: romantic, playful, relaxing, exciting, intimate, and respectful. I’ll be in London again for a few nights this summer, would love any dance recommendations you have on places to check out. Cheers!

  5. GA May 18, 2017 @ 6:04 pm

    Yes!!! I agree with this so much. I also am exhausted by the endless stream of pop songs remixed as Bachata with the EXACT SAME BASSLINE. It’s not fun. It’s not interesting.

    • Guile May 19, 2017 @ 1:48 am

      you mean like 90% of kizomba music?

      • Marie May 19, 2017 @ 5:47 pm

        U obviously only listen to Kizomba music played in clubs… Original Kizomba music is not based on remix…

  6. Romeo May 18, 2017 @ 6:31 pm

    Bachata it’s a sensual dance, but Some people need
    To know more about the culture and tradition and more practice to mastermind it.
    Salsa it’s African Cuban rhythms.

  7. Nicole May 18, 2017 @ 7:09 pm

    I feel like the people that SHOULD be reading this article, would NOT be reading this article. lol I love dancing sensual bachata because of the leads I was with, who did note the musicality of it. I have not been to enough bachata events that even bordered with what you were saying (being kissed? really??), granted I only have been to two. I think it was appropriate timing for me to read this and take note! So thank you!

  8. Pasquale May 18, 2017 @ 7:26 pm

    Thank you so much for your observations. You are not sending this to the void. Your spelling out in detail what I had as a somewhat unclear feeling I find very useful. I’ll heavily rely on it as input for a Kizomba introduction I’ll be hosting pretty soon, as that dance is probably even more looked at as sexual, not just sensual.

    • La Chanica May 20, 2017 @ 12:57 am

      Please, send me the link to your kizomba article when its done!

  9. Juan May 18, 2017 @ 7:37 pm

    Very nice article.
    I must say that I like your article and that it also is not just from a ladies perspective but from a leaders and man’s perspective as well. It is sad that yes, the dance has become more like dirty dancing than fun dancing, some of the music is not fun, and the disrespect goes both ways. It is sad that people don’t undertand the subtleties of good leading or good following and the endorphins that a good co-creative dance does for a person. I hope that it does level out, because, otherwise there will be nothing of interest left of the lovely music and the wonderful possibilities of the dance, Juan.

  10. monica martinez May 18, 2017 @ 8:10 pm

    well whatever anybody is got to say about bachata. good or bad. ylu have to know what to feel. when your dancing. so if you lost that feeling , thanks fir shareing. must run through your blood. you know.

  11. ANKESH KHEMANI May 18, 2017 @ 8:16 pm

    Oh my god. I have been feeling the same way watching the bachata trend these days. There’s no playfulness, only erotica.

  12. DturPato May 18, 2017 @ 8:16 pm

    Interesting read, thank u, appreciate your thoughts, and sharing. I would have to add that in general bachata is interpreted in the US as a sensual-even sexual dance, when in DR sensuality is not on the minds of every Dominican who might actually be dancing with their mom, aunt, cousin, sister. Bachata is like merengue-at the core of everyday life and its history can tell you a lot about dominicans in general. Some dance anthropologists have actually gone to identify this particular view by Westerners of Caribbean dances and Caribbean bodies as always being typified as “sensual, sexual” in conjunction with racist legacies from colonialism. In bringing this up—I agree with you on this emphasis that now is being put on couples or that couples adopt to look more sexy-sensual when dancing bachata and it works to disway me from going to bachata events, primariy because I wish I could go to a bachata event , enjoy myself and not have a guy say to me that I indeed need to be more sensual–when clearly the songs isn[t calling for it n I am not looking at my dance partner as the man of my dreams etc. I just want to dance and I do not want to have to fit my dominican bachata into what now people interpret as the “right way to” ” bachata-sensual.” Also because I personally like Dominican bachata more, and because as a Dominican woman I do not like my culture always being correlated, interpreted as sexual. I personally believe that it creates a “type of” bachata (create—as in I am referring to it as new dance here where bachata is a base, but where other dance styles, along with people interpretations of these dance styles is mixed in—and this can have both positive and negative critics depending on who is observing who is dancing, and one[s own person dance philosophy), a “sensual” bachata that I can appreciate it at times, but it is so far from Dominican bachata that sometimes, if you were to turn off the music, I will not recognize that what a couple is dancing in front of me is indeed bachata. I also think that although most individuals know Bachata comes from the Dominican Republic, not many take the time to learn more—learn more its roots, the regional differences that exist(i.e. how bachata is danced in Barahona versus en el cibao is diff), heavy emphasis on footwork, the role improvisation plays (yes there are basic steps, but you are supposed to come up with your own footwork, you are supposed to display musicality in your feet and hips). Thanks so much for your observations–I can identify with many of the points you made.

    • Zahira May 19, 2017 @ 8:22 pm

      Thanks for the background on bachata. However, I do believe the author is specifically referring to “sensual-bachata” not traditional. I also don’t see why you refer to it as “Dominican bachata”? In this case all bachata including the “sensual”, “urban”, “traditional” is Dominican.

    • Julio May 20, 2017 @ 9:16 pm

      You are on point abouy wesywrm sexualization of all things Caribbean. The exact same observation can be made of the western – North American in particular – view of reggae and soca where sex or anything close is likely the furthest thing on mind of the Caribbean male dancing to these while the typical North American sees this as an excuse to “dry hump” and totally missing the most essential component of these dances which is “the feeling “.

  13. V May 18, 2017 @ 8:49 pm

    I agree with you, very well written. In fact, I have an incredibly difficult time holding students or dancers on my teams because I teach leading and following and respect. So many people very obviously walk in wanting to learn hot sexy trick moves and win over a lady or man and never return to my classes a second time. In a small town scene it unfortunately happens in both bachata and salsa classes. But I have a few amazing students that truly love the dance and the music and keep my hopes for the dance scene.

  14. Ruëben Rivera May 18, 2017 @ 8:59 pm

    Very well written and with still so much respect for the overall Bachata dance and music culture. I wish more individuals would take time to respectfully articulate their differences in the dance world. It would help close a gap and spread more admiration and respect for why people choose to dance music a certain way.

    • Micheal September 9, 2017 @ 4:20 am

      How do I find a bachata class that teaches what you teach before I spend my money?

  15. Cesar May 18, 2017 @ 8:59 pm

    I think you have a point, but Kizomba groups is worse.

    • Stefani May 18, 2017 @ 10:09 pm

      I hear, but I do not have personal experience from which to talk about it

      • Cesar May 20, 2017 @ 12:45 pm

        The Dj´s changing the ballads and adding bachata beat are changing the way people teach and dance, but nothing more fun than dance Grupo extra song for example 🙂

    • Ryan May 19, 2017 @ 10:43 am

      That may well be true, but it really depends on whether they are actually dancing kizomba or not. There’s a lot of ‘fake’ kizomba out there and even entire communities that dance messed up versions with horrible music, bringing shame to the term kizomba. Miseducation is the culprit here. The real kizomba is beautiful, non-sleazy, and worth investigating.
      Respectfully,
      R

    • John martin May 20, 2017 @ 6:49 pm

      I started dancing salsa in 1999 at the age of 50 and coming From a background of ballroom in my teen years I found the freedom of expression amazing. Then bachata was introduced sometime later and even then I believed the sexual overtones were present and I decided to exclude myself from the dance as I was generally a lot older than my partners and felt the way it was a bit inappropriate. So when Kizomba was levered into the dance classes and congressesI protested that it was not latino and danced salsa to the music as a protest. It was suggested to me that necause of the Portuguese link with Angola it was justified as being Latino! Wtf? Dance is a business and to keep dancers interest the promoters believe any simplistic vaguely Latin dance is acceptable! It’s not! Tango is too complicated to introduce into the salsa scene hence a truly Latino dance is excluded! Salsa music and dance are incredible with dance skills whereas Bachata and more so Kizomba are musical sex games with I suggest no skills required just partner agreement to see it up!

      • GoodFella October 10, 2017 @ 4:37 pm

        It seems you have never learned proper leading/following in bachata. Try to take classes, and you’ll see that leading and following are much more complicated and refined there then in salsa. In salsa, a poor leader can still pull a move through, and get away with it. In slower dances, like bachata, the girl will simply stare at him.

        Now, the real question is: do incompetent comments contribute to the quality of discussion? In my opinion, no, but I am fully aware that I might be in minority.

  16. Stephan May 18, 2017 @ 9:44 pm

    Absolutely agree with this article.

    I am a not very skilled Bachata dancer. I love the origin of the dance with maybe a bit of sensual, but all you see now is waving waving body rolls with the male just standing there and as you mentioned all over the place with elbows. Where is all the beautiful stepping like Dominican?

    All it is about in todays time is sex and making sex moves. Then you have an even bigger disgrace, Bachata Nuevo. Who the hell did invent that? That you cannot even call bachata. That is a huge insult to the real inventors of Bachata / the Dominicans who created a beautiful dance, but now is being basically raped by those popular dancers / performers.

    I still want to get better myself with Bachata, but not the fuckin on the dancefloor bachata.

    It can be so beautiful, but it is now being abused heavily. Sorry for some harsch words I used in my comment, but sometimes it makes me angry.

  17. Liz May 18, 2017 @ 10:39 pm

    Hey there! I totally agree with you. I started salsa/bachata in LA and now am in St.Louis. The respect factor I experienced in LA in salsa and bachata, and both in Montreal, are so much better than STL. I agree that you can feel sexy and dance sensually with leads while still having innocent fun and showing respect for each other. I have a few leads in mind who are playfully fun and respectful, whom I love very much.

    Thanks for the read and putting my same thoughts onto the page.

    <3

  18. GRACE Badillo May 18, 2017 @ 10:57 pm

    I teach on this subject all the time. I agree with mist of this but it’s ultimately the instructors fault for teaching this trash and degrading women and men in the process.

  19. melissa shank May 18, 2017 @ 11:02 pm

    I just want to say that I completely agree with you. I’ve been dancing in various dance venues for a little over seven years and I have seen the same thing happened. I have lost much interest in going out dancing anymore because of it. Especially with guys thinking they can take Liberties that they have not been invited to do so just because the dance has gotten more focused on being sensual or at least it has In my area

  20. Gray May 18, 2017 @ 11:22 pm

    Lol. I just have laught! This is what happens when people that know nothing about bachata, and learned how to dance “sensual” bachata, think they are expert on the subject.

    “Sensual” bachata came about from people that are salsa, mambo dancers and just incorporated their moves into bachata.

    Sexualitation? Sweetie, bachata from its creation was a sexual dance, not a sensual dance. Besides the lyrics, and Dominicans (poor Dominicanas) identifying with the sentiment, bachata was only danced in whore houses. A man that was in pain because of love, used to go to a Whore house, drink and drown in his sorrows while looking for consolation through the music and a prostitute. Just as Merengue was for the low class people, so was bachata. In fact, real bachata (classic bachata) and certain merengues are not played nor danced by the Hight class Dominicans.

    I grew up dancing bachata, and at that time bachata was already accepted as normal music and was being danced not so close together.

    lol. Men use women in a sexual way, objectifying women because of the way women are supposed to move and so forth. Only non-Dominicans dance that way. And that’s because they’re taught that that’s the way you dance bachata. You go to DR and you will see that wether it is bachata or merengue, if you don’t know the person, if you are just friends they will dance decently. Only if you like the person, or you are in a relationship with the person, they would dance in a sexual way.

    And women use bachata or merengue to flirt with the men they like. If they are in a club, and they see a guy they like, they will use bachata to get close to the guy. Just like guys do it too. As a matter of fact, bachata, more than merengue now, is used to seduce and/or find out, through dancing, if the person is into you.

    But you learned this “sensual” bachata, and like salsa, now there are congresses where people get together to dance. This is not wrong, especially when people just want to dance a music and have fun without having to flirt or please the other person in a “sensual” way. I dance bachata all the time because I like it, and I dislike when the woman start doing all these moves and dancing certain way.

    Remember, you set the pace. Just like merengue, you don’t have to dance bachata grinding, unless, of course, you like the person and you’re trying to let him know.

    If you dance with a Dominican, and you start grinding, he will think you like him. That’s why, when you dance bachata and merengue, you keep your distance. This shows the man that you just want to dance.

    • Stefani May 18, 2017 @ 11:43 pm

      “Sweetie”? Please, speak to me more demeaningly. Also, “sexualitation” is not a word.

      • Cristian May 19, 2017 @ 2:29 am

        The man has a point. A pity you can’t see beyond misspellings to get the message. I guess the reply bothers you because it’s not the expected “I agree with you”

        • Pete May 19, 2017 @ 2:25 pm

          ^This.

        • Meagan May 19, 2017 @ 10:31 pm

          Hey Sweety, you know what I love? A man who talks down to a woman while acting like he’s being nice! You know what else I love? A man who supports the first guy by saying the woman is only bothered because he doesn’t agree with her! OMG so supportive in creating an open dialogue!

          Try acting like a gentleman, use her name, and see if you get a better response from a woman who you disagree-with. Don’t be a jack-wagon.

          Stefani, thank you for starting a conversation regarding safe spaces without insulting anyone. It speaks volumes to who you are as a dancer.
          Best, M

          • John October 22, 2019 @ 1:51 pm

            Umm, Stefani didn’t address the first guy either nor tried to create a conversation. Also, none of the above were talking down to Stefani. The only who dismissed and talked down to someone was Stefani and then you.

            Women should try acting like ladies if they expect men to act like gentlemen.

            • Witold October 27, 2019 @ 11:04 pm

              John, first of all Grey start his replay in condescending tone as Stefani don’t know anything about bachata. But he is actually wrong. First bachata sensual is not sexual dence. From where I know? I have certificate from creators of bachata, so I know this from the main source. Second bachata was music of poor people, played in brothels, but with time bachata position in society elevated. Poor Dominicans go to USA, and after some time they returned with wealth, so it starts to be more like music of middle class. And saying that men objectify women because way they move, is like saying that women was raped because how she dress.

              Article is good. I would also add to that, a lot of men want only to learn advance moves to impress ladies, but forget about technique. This ends with lot of ladies with spine problems, because guys don’t know how to lead a proper dip.

              I always dance with respect, because I know, that if man wat to impress a woman, the best way is to be good at something. So technique, smooth leading and good musicality is key to success.

    • Vilma May 19, 2017 @ 3:01 am

      Pretty tired of white people thinking they know what our culture is about and then ranting on how they don’t like how other (mainly white people) live parts of our culture. Then she proceeds to correct the spelling of a guy who is probably bilingual (like me) although he made a point that she failed to address… ugh.

      • Vlad May 19, 2017 @ 5:59 am

        I’m pretty tired of people saying “white people” as an insult, especially when they know literally NOTHING about the individual they are insulting. So Vilma, what do you know about Stefani? While you consider that, maybe put your own bigotry in the back sea for a minute or two. Also, at what point in the article about the dance scene did Stefani even vaguely comment on Dominican culture? And finally, much like in dance, if you’re looking for a sincere, extended response in conversation it’s probably best to enter the relationship with respect and humility rather than a cocky attitude know-it-all attitude.

        Let me leave you with an old axiom which you might want to consider taking to heart…
        “Better to be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.”

        • Manuel May 19, 2017 @ 4:01 pm

          Sure it doesn’t apply to “white people”. It applies to every other person who has pretty much no clue about the actual culture behind bachata. That being said, the vast majority of “white people” belong to the latter.

          However, what I find curious is that you see it as an insult. Why exactly would that be an insult?

          The whole point here is that you don’t see many “black people” (or rather those who understand they could dance bachata with family members without feeling awkward) doing on the dancefloor what the OP condemns (rightfully so).

          Funny story: before coming to Europe I never considered my dancing as sensual, yet by “white people’s” standards I kinda had to agree. Then “sensual bachata” came in and I was like: wait, if bachata is already sensual, what does that make this new wave? Sensual sensual bachata?! Sexual bachata?!

          Sure bachata is about connection just like any other Afro-Caribbean dance. But it doesn’t mean that connection has to be sexual or seduction-oriented.
          –> If I’m not attracted to a woman there’s no way in hell I’ll dance this close and with such sexual moves, etc. I can dance bachata with my mum for god’s sake !

          Now, I think that was roughly Gray’s point if I’m not mistaken.

          Anyways, way to bring a culture down to dust… smh

          • Julio May 20, 2017 @ 9:27 pm

            Manuel u directly set things straight. And again I will draw on ur points and ascribe it to all othe forms if afro Caribbean music and dance like reggae soca zouk kompa etc.

      • Zahira May 19, 2017 @ 8:35 pm

        Vilma- clearly, you are missing the point of the article. In no way was the Dominican culture attacked with her words. The author is merely making observations on how bachata is evolving into many other sub-categories of music, and she’s articulating her response to these new developments. Her experiences are relate-able to women of any background. Look around you, have you not noticed how diverse the dance scene is?

      • Meagan May 19, 2017 @ 10:40 pm

        Hey Vilma, just to push back a bit…kissing someone without their consent is actually sexual assault (by legal definition) so to say “she doesn’t understand the culture” kinda misses the point of, well, her saying she does not want to be assaulted on a dance floor. While I do think their are plenty of people who don’t understand the culture…I also think there are a lot of men who just don’t understand how to be respectful towards women period, not just women who dance.

        PS: I’ve personally never experienced what she’s talking about while dancing in NYC, but if I guy did try to kiss me during a dance (and I wasn’t already his partner) I’d probably slug him. Be a gentleman! Ask a lady out before you mac on her! Or at least buy her a drink!

        • iamtanmay September 18, 2017 @ 10:44 am

          Hey,

          Get a sex change, become a guy. Then come back and tell me about asking before kissing.

          Who the fuck asks before a kiss ? Way to kill the moment, you politically correct imbecile.

          Oh, and girls do the same.

          How can you find consent when going for a kiss ? Simple. Lean in, and wait. Then get closer slowly. If she turns her head, you have your answer.

          Ask before kissing ?! Moron.

          And if you slugged me, you would be getting one back. *That* is actually assault.

        • iamtanmay September 18, 2017 @ 10:46 am

          No, I am not buying you, or any *lady* *snigger* a drink. You want equality, buy your own damn drink.

          I am in it for sex. You don’t wanna ? No enchilada, I move on. Good for you, good for me.

          But what is this whole rant on sexualisation, and demonising men ? Should men not want sex ? Is it only a privilege for women ?

          Get over yourselves. You don’t want sex, don’t dance with someone who wants it.

          No one is interested in your rants.

          • PG February 22, 2020 @ 4:37 pm

            Nice one..!

    • Hector May 19, 2017 @ 7:23 am

      Wow, you hit the right keys. Anyone who learned bachata with a Dominican root background instructor, or a predominantly traditional bachata social, knows those ethic rules (like in Salsa, Swing, etc.). I know there are bad apples out there that will not miss the chance to take advantage of girls that see this type of bad behavior as part of the dance. We all are responsible for settings the limits and help to preserve it.

    • Anonymous October 3, 2018 @ 11:52 am

      I know it’s over a year later but this is for reference for anyone who reads this post.

      Bachata Sensual wasn’t from Salsa/Mambo dancers, it was created and pioneered initially by Korke and Judith, who were originally Zouk dancers and incorporated LambaZouk elements into Bachata. This is then further exemplified by Daniel and Desiree’s style.

      Bachata Moderna is what he’s referring to which makes more sense as this is what incorporates the dips and turns.

      Anyone who thinks the Sensual part of Bachata is from Salsa clearly has no idea what Salsa actually looks like and has no understanding of the history of Bachata from the get go.

  21. AR May 18, 2017 @ 11:26 pm

    I find your post pretty disheartening, because you’re probably not the only follower (or leader) leaving the scene because of these or some of these reasons.

    The biggest problem the Bachata scene is facing right now is the explosion in popularity of Bachata Sensual while the teachers are not yet properly trained in it. I’ve seen many ‘traditional’ Bachata teachers all of a sudden starting to offer sensual classes, because the demand was there. They learn some moves from shows or YouTube and try to teach those without the proper context. And yes, that can really mess up the scene.

    I’ve been learning Bachata Sensual for almost two years now and the most important thing my teacher and all of the great teachers I’ve taken classes from have taught me is ‘respect the lady’! The leader’s job is to make sure the lady has fun, has room to breathe and stylize, and generally feels at ease.

    Now, I have to say, I don’t have exactly the same feeling about the scene as you do. I don’t really see the ‘party atmosphere’. At the parties (and congresses) I’ve been to, everybody seems to drink cola or water. And yes, the onlookers can be annoying sometimes, standing too much on the dancefloor, or the dancers make their moves too big, but that is unfortunately a symptom of a growing scene with an influx of new students.

    What a lot of these people need is just decent teachers and mentors, who can show them what’s right and what’s wrong. Teaching them that sensual is about respect, and is only part of a greater spectrum of Bachata.

    I hope your bachata scene continues evolving, and reaches a new, more mature point soon!

    P.s.: Andreas and Silvia are not my favorite teachers either, but I’ve never had a workshop as you describe it. Luckily there are also teachers like Luis and Andrea or Pablo and Raquel, where you can see and feel the love and respect and passion.

  22. William M Hall Jr May 19, 2017 @ 12:31 am

    Important thoughts sincerely and thoughtfully expressed. I agree with Grace Badillo. Instructors and to a lesser extent promoters are responsible for the ethical climate/atmosphere. Dance should never be sexual, but it is sensual and beautiful. Sexual dance should be limited to bars which are known to promote the stimulation of male(primarily) purient interest, commonly called “titty bars”.
    Bachata is not a “sexual” dance, but it is sensual and beautiful when danced properly/ethically/beautifully.
    We need more instructors and promoters to take clear stands articulating what is ethical and what is not. Failure to do so will destroy Bachata’s beauty, creativity and joy.
    Who wants “sex” with no romance, no foreplay, no love. Only barbarians. Kudos for your voice for a return to the beauty which is in the dance bachata and the other dances of Latin America which we have come to enjoy and love.

    • iamtanmay September 18, 2017 @ 10:55 am

      “Dance should never be sexual”

      hahahhahhahahahhahahahaha, thanks, I needed the laugh grandpa.

      ” the stimulation of male(primarily) purient interest, commonly called “titty bars”.”

      Again, times have changed grandpa. You go rock your rocker and let us have some fun.

      I am in it for sex, I am happy enough with it. I am a guy, and I am not ashamed of it.

      These girls don’t want it. Great ! Its ok with me if they go somewhere else. What is *not* ok is demonising men for wanting sex.

      The author herself admits to “experimenting”, i.e sleeping around *lol*.

      But if there are guys she is not interested in, they are *obnoxious*, double standards much ?

      My advice to her is, leave. You don’t like it here anyway.

      I want to dance with women where I get to sleep with them. You are not in the market. Do us both a favor and do something else.

      That way I reach my girls faster, and you don’t have to dance with *obnoxious* little ol me.

      What is the point of this ‘woe is me’ article ? Typical attention whoring and victim role play.

      If the guys try to kiss you, why do you let it happen ? Are you not leading them on ?

      They are the ones who should be complaining. They waste their time and energy, so you get your ego stroked ? Let them dance with girls who want sex.

      But you want the attention, which is the same reason for writing this drivel. You get off on the ‘holier than thou’ BS, while making yourself look as the innocent victim.

      • Karin January 6, 2018 @ 7:49 pm

        Wow. You are very much part of the problem. It is 2018, wake up. Women will not be victimized by you and your type any more. We all just want respect. You are obviously that obnoxious guy on the dance floor, usually a shitty dancer, who touches and leers inappropriately. I love to dance but fuck you and fuck the patriarchy.

        • Razvan January 6, 2019 @ 1:01 pm

          That damn patriarchy. Who would’ve thought that the whole sex buffet for all would have become popular with men too. Women like you are just upset when men want equality. If you guys start kissing men on the floor, do you think men would complain?
          I am afraid you have to look deeper at this to get a grasp of what is going on.

        • John October 22, 2019 @ 1:54 pm

          Umm, no one is forcing women to sleep with him. It is 2019 and women do have the freedom to sleep with him or other men.

          If girls put their bodies out on display, they will get leered at. It’s called action/reaction.

  23. Shyan May 19, 2017 @ 2:01 am

    I’m truly sorry that you’ve had to experience what you did while dancing bachata. It’s a real shame. I feel that these kinds of incidents increase the level of prejudice many women have towards men generally. And it becomes increasingly difficult for guys like me to convince women on the dance floor that we’re not “them”. These days I avoid bachata and just stick to mambo because I often don’t feel like going through that process. In any case, I hope we get to dance one day 🙂

  24. Wil May 19, 2017 @ 3:17 am

    BS. Sounds like your looking for a dance floor safe space. You might as well give up dancing. I suggest you look into the history of Bachata dance. You will realize that it was mostly danced in the underclass scenes, cabaretes, and bordellos. Where women were objectified. Im not saying it’s ok, but Bachata was the conduit of release from what was socially acceptable. It was the forbidden taboo freedom that people seeked; and it so happened to be expressed in the form of dance. If you’re so sensitive to the nature of the dance then you might as well give up other things that require a bit of rebellion. I’m not going to apologize for other people’s behavior on the dance floor
    That’s on them. But there is “defensive” dancing. You should practice some of that if you have such an issue with people on the dance floor. I am a strictly traditional Bachata dancer. Respectful on the dance floor, and I have an issue with a post that paints a negative picture of Bachata. Dance in general should never be portrayed with such negativity. I hope people don’t read into your message and opt out from the dance just because of your skewed point of view. A catchy title doesn’t make something true. I hope your experience with Bachata changes and you re-evaluate your sentiment. If it doesnt, it’s your lost. Most people will have a great experience.

  25. marge gabbert May 19, 2017 @ 3:25 am

    Excellent article!!!

  26. Mike May 19, 2017 @ 3:42 am

    Yes, as if dancing was not about love, sex or show off. /s

    Why do other animals dance?

    I find that people that don’t accept this fact is because they have a partner already (which you will find surprising how most stop going social dance or dance with their partner and leave) , they are ugly (everyone been sexual with hot girls but not with her or all guys are creepy and you dont want to get sexual), dont know how to dance bachata (better say you dont like it rather than admit you dont know how to do it).

    • Jen May 19, 2017 @ 10:42 am

      Thanks for proving her point, Mike. *wink*

      • iamtanmay September 18, 2017 @ 10:58 am

        Thanks for proving my point that she is an attention seeking professional victim, *wink*

        If you hate us men so much, why dance with us. Go with your girlfriends. Learn how to dance the lead, and dance with girls.

        No, you don’t want to sleep with ‘obnoxious’ guys, except when you want to. When guys kiss you every night, you write a blog about it, instead of stopping them.

        What gives ? Could it be that your Papa and Mama didn’t love you enough, and now you need your ego stroked ? Could it be ?

        Do us *obnoxious* men a favor, and don’t dance with us. That way, I can dance with girls who want sex, have sex, be happy, and you can be happy not doing any of that 🙂

        Simple.

  27. MiMi E Salazar May 19, 2017 @ 3:46 am

    Thank you so much for this article, I am a hardcore salsa dancer and love love to dance, I remember when Bachata was that pure Delicious song “quisiera ser un pez en tu pecera” that beautiful Beat of raw Dominican Flavor. Everything you mentioned in your article pushed me away from it. Specially the drunk guys trying to lead you to a cirque de soleil contortionist and they stink of alcohol.

  28. FrustratedMale May 19, 2017 @ 4:35 am

    How well she describes everything except the part that women play in promoting this culture she claims she is so against…..of course the excuse will be that they have to do it because the men ask for it…..Not true.

    • iamtanmay September 18, 2017 @ 11:00 am

      Double standards, and victim role play.

      Why ? Its because she loves the attention and the sympathy.

      Same reason she writes a blog about all the men who kiss her, instead of stopping them, or not dancing with them.

      Hahahaha

  29. ALVIN May 19, 2017 @ 5:35 am

    I definitelu agree with all you had shared about bachata nowadays. Its more about the sensuality. Ive seen so many “Popular” bachata dancers and instructors…who I admitted are hella good looking and sexy, but if you really watch their techniques ….many are overrated. Sad so many newbies fall into their trap, eventually manipulated into dishing out $$$$, hoping to be like them. Performing and social dancing are two different things. Though Ive performed before…I found the greatest satisfaction and acknowledgement of my progression and evolution as a dancer from social dancing with skilled dancers in technique and dance etiquette. Fortunately, I been able to see thru some of the bullshit instructors/dancers out there…and found a handful of legit experienced and knowledgeable dancers both locally and internationally known…who shaped me into the dancer I am today after 6 years of dancing. To be the best compliment I can get from some I danced with is the biggest smile,starry eyes, a hug, and a thank you….and the feeling is mutual…further saying how much fun they had and wanting another dance later. It should be more fun than sexy. I actually enjoy dominican style more nowadays more than sensual