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.


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:


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.


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.


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.

    • 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.


  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


        • 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


          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 🙂


  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.


  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 😉

  30. Vlad May 19, 2017 @ 5:38 am

    “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.”

    Wow. This is beyond disappointing to learn of. I accept that guys are pigs, but this is sad.

    Gentlemen (and with this new realization I am using that term even more loosely than usual), I hope you understand that if you act like a disrespectful pig within a social dance scene you are then a major cause of the women in that scene adopting a distrustful attitude to all the men within that scene. This distrust not only creates a cloud of negativity, it also diminishes the level of dance that can be achieved, because a follow’s trust is imperative for you to embrace and flourish in your role as a lead. So stop! There will be plenty of time for fucking later; holster your cock and your disrespect until you’re off the dance floor! If you continue to treat women with disrespect on the bachata/salsa/kizomba/zouk/etc dance floor you will ruin that environment for everyone until it becomes indistinguishable from the negative and anti-social environment of the bar scene in virtually any major city.

    Ladies, I encourage you to voice your objections to disrespectful behavior, though I would caution you from being overly-sensitive and acting like a total bitch every time you perceive yourself to be offended because a guy glances in your direction. However, if there is an obvious crossing of a personal comfort zone or barrier speak up and make that boundary clear. If that lead continues to cross that boundary, then you know three things: 1) he does not respect you; 2) he does not respect your boundaries; & 3) If you continue to dance with him he will continue to disrespect both you and your boundaries.

    • iamtanmay September 18, 2017 @ 11:03 am

      “Wow. This is beyond disappointing to learn of. I accept that guys are pigs, but this is sad.”

      Thank you. We are pigs, you are not. Why does she continue to dance with pigs and letting herself be kissed by pigs ? Hmm ? Instead of stopping said pigs, she lets them kiss her every night, comes home and writes a blog about it.

      “…major cause of the women in that scene adopting a distrustful attitude to all the men within that scene.”

      Right, that’s why those pigs managed to kiss her every single night ? hahahahha

      Maby open your eyes and realise she is playing you to get your sympathy ?

      Those pigs get into bed with women who then act indignant and write stupid little blogs about how obnoxious those pigs are. Rinse, repeat.


      • Ian A. December 29, 2018 @ 9:29 pm

        Yes your so right! Too many of the men have self congratulating “White night” syndrome in response to the original authors sympathy ploys. The next thing they say is “Don’t worry love i’m not like those other male pigs, I only want sexual relations with a woman in the context of 30 year relationship”. Typically they will try it on with her later in any case anyway. It is hypocrisy at its lowest. I’d rather many of those women not dance with me either, especially when I see them ruin the whole fun atmosphere at dance congresses with excessive queuing almost queuing for anything else to happen later too. In fact recently in Zouk there has been a “me too” attack at some of those male dancers presumably because their tryst didn’t end with them living in the Barbie mansion together.

        The original author did make a good point that many dances are more to do with what you look like than any tangible dance ability. The whole showing off scene of dance troupes doing not well executed movements has led many dances away from their “social” elements and more to do with showing off.

  31. Luz May 19, 2017 @ 6:35 am

    Hi Stefani,

    Thank you very much for writing this! As a latina in Australia and a salsa/bachata/zouk-lover, I struggle with the sexualisation of the dance and the expectation there is to follow moves I don’t want to and too often I just pretend not to know the step.

    I do acknowledge that the origins of the dance are sexual (as quite expIicit in some lyrics), and that women often sexualise the dance too, it’s not just the guys. However, I find the attitude in comments above (along the lines of: ‘if you’re not happy to dance extra sexy with me, then don’t dance bachata at all’) frustrating.

    I’m shocked to hear you have guys kissing you every dance night! I have found leads, on the whole, generally respectful. One particularly unpleasant lead would slap my butt various times throughout the dance. Maybe the only thing is ‘defensive dancing’…

    This year I have been a little more distant from the dance scene, partly due to the superficiality/sexualisation of a beautiful dance is sad to be amongst.

    Thanks again for your reflections! It’s nice to know others are thinking about this!

    • iamtanmay September 18, 2017 @ 11:06 am

      Its about sex. I dance for sex. Simple. You don’t want to, then why not dance with other girls ?

      Surely if you don’t want sex, then you should be happy dancing with girls ? Or ? Am I missing something ?

      That way, you will completely avoid sexualisation, and enjoy dancing on your terms.

      No one is telling you to stop. But you can learn how to dance the lead and dance with your girlfriends, right ? Lots of girls do that.

  32. Alejandro Peca May 19, 2017 @ 9:28 am

    Well written. Yet I guess all these traits of the scene have been ‘always’ in the dance scenes – they are just now more conspicuosly seen in the Bachata -and as I heard, in the U Kizz scene.
    The contradiction is but this: clearly more pool-alike moves have been created for the partner work, which alienate older dancers, while at the same time it has contributed to make the scene bigger altogether.
    As a side note: I would not overtly criticize the ‘sexualization’ of the dance (after having my reggaeton phase 11 years ago ?) For two reasons, freedom of consenting adults, and the concept is too vague.
    Personally, what bothers me the most is rather the deterioration of the core idea of social dance: leading/following. Some moves taught are rather show moves and not enough brain power has been put into solving lead/follow techniques. Little coreographic moves are sold which cannot be dance freely with others, unless the went together to the same workshop.
    And on the top these new young dancers don’t even realize that, quite probably because their teachers cannot teach what they don’t know.
    Lets see how it will look like in 5 years from. I’m quite optimistic.

  33. Andrew Singleton May 19, 2017 @ 10:02 am

    Impressive writing.

  34. Julia May 19, 2017 @ 10:47 am

    You focused on very important topic for me… sensuality contra sexuality. I feel very bad in some position leaders try to do me. From the other hand bachata is such warm and nice dance. I relax after very fast salsa 🙂 it depends a lot of leaders if treat and look at you with respect I don’ t mind to do some position more. But after few steps woman know if foud this right leader and can DANCE for dance not for his ego. Wrong leader make me dance more like man and is like a fight for dignity. I hope self conscious of dancers grow up and they mature do dance sensual kinds.

    • iamtanmay September 18, 2017 @ 11:07 am

      Why don’t you learn how to dance the lead and then dance with your girlfriends ?

      Why is it the responsibility of men to treat you right ? You don’t pay them, so why do they owe you anything ?

  35. Emeka May 19, 2017 @ 11:26 am

    Thanks strong word and advice for those who have ears.. You said it all..

  36. Dominik May 19, 2017 @ 11:33 am

    that feeling explain everything: I feel as a object or subject for my dance partner

  37. Liz May 19, 2017 @ 11:43 am

    Yes, I totally agree. I’ve pretty much given up dancing bachata for the same reasons. I thought maybe it was just the Sydney scene, but clearly it’s much more widespread. Thanks for the article and for putting it out there.

  38. Liviu May 19, 2017 @ 11:46 am

    Hi there,

    I am a guy dancing with pleasure socially salsa, cha-cha, bachata & kizomba.

    I personally believe it all boils down to one single thing: why is the guy/girl dancing? Is it because he/she enjoys dancing, is it for recognition, is it for finding a relationship or simply “to score”, etc.?
    If you ask around and then dig down inside the community you will probably find a lot of them just want to find a partner / relationship / social interaction. And this is a need (a basic human need) that us humans, as social creatures, have and will continue to have for a looong time.
    In order to get this need fulfilled they have found that dancing works rather easy: you get physical contact, you get interaction … without having to put an effort (ask out, talk, get to know the other one, etc.).
    So, if there are guys and gals (social dancers, instructors, performers) searching for anything else other than love and respect for dancing => voila, we have deviations like the ones we see today 🙂

    I would not condemn the community, the people doing what they do or how they do it: just think that they have unsatisfied needs, maybe loneliness and use dance as a way to deal with their struggles (consciously or not).

    On the other hand, if you love dancing and respect the traditions you should try to share that passion with all those with whom you dance. You might leave a happy mark on some 🙂

    • Alex February 19, 2018 @ 10:20 am

      Thanks, Liviu – the best comment I’ve read so far!!

  39. Michal May 19, 2017 @ 12:13 pm

    Pablo Alboran’s Perdoname is bachata song ? Really?
    Or you had on your mind it’s bachata cover (remix) ???????????????????????????\

  40. Sta May 19, 2017 @ 2:20 pm

    ThAnKYOu for this post, I can really identify with loving the music and enjoying dancing but being uncomfortable with the sensualisation (= sexualisation) of it all. I struggle with this as I often feel it goes against my beliefs, but at the same time am reluctant to give it up and “throw the baby out with the bath water”. Nice to know others (who undoubtedly dance better than me!) have similar thoughts.

  41. Dave May 19, 2017 @ 3:44 pm

    What an eloquent and excellent post.
    I can remember Bachata first coming onto the UK dance scene and causing a slight stir with its closer embrace than many other dances. SInce then it appears to have competed with Kizomba (albeit heavily stylized variations of both) to take the crown of most sensual dance form.
    Unfortunately this does lead itself to attracting men with potentially unwelcome agendas to the dance scene and many dancers leaving just as quickly.
    I did notice the comment that this doesn’t occur in the “Swing” scene, but can state that from the Blues side it is a problem that is becoming increasingly apparent with many teachers oblivious to the fact no dance actually requires inner thighs to be welded together whilst carrying out various gyrations and god forbid pelvic thrusting (Daggering being the exception – to pelvic thrusting anyway)
    Sexualisation of dance seems to be used to get bums through the doors – unfortunately in many cases that’s precisely what’s coming in.

  42. Mark May 19, 2017 @ 3:53 pm

    I think your observations of Bachata are spot on. As a man who massively enjoys Salsa and Jive dancing, because I find it both challenging and lots of fun (as an enthusiastic novice), for me watching most Bachata in clubs is incredibly boring. What attracts me to the vibrancy and enjoyment of dancing the more energetic and inclusive dances of Salsa and Jive, often seem to be completely missing from Bachata. This removal of the fun and challenging interaction of Cuban Salsa or Jive from Bachata, leaves me feeling less connected, even though Bachata is supposedly the more sensual dance style.
    I also get a little frustrated by just how much time during an event advertised as a Salsa event/night is taken over by Bachata. The proliferation of Bachata music during a Salsa night means you have far less opportunity to dance and consolidate your Salsa skills, whilst having to watch, with greatest respect, mostl, very poor Bachata dancers taking their opportunity to do little more than grind against a woman. Yes, those who have built up their dance skills, can and do look very good whilst dancing to Bachata, but I just don’t see the same skill level on the Bachata dancefloor as I see on the Salsa dancefloors. Perhaps my own preference for Cuban Salsa is colouring my perception? But as a man watching Bachata, I’ve not seen anyone dance Bachata so well that I’ve thought, wow, I must learn how to do that. I have been both enthused and motivated by good Salsa dancers to learn and continue to try and learn Salsa. Take away the natural fun and laughter from the dancing style, and it loses everything that makes it attractive to me. It removes that cooperative enjoyable interaction that really makes a couple connect on the dancefloor.

    • Alexander Mott May 19, 2017 @ 6:21 pm

      You’re completely right about Blues being over serialized at the moment, in my opinion mostly due to the emergence of Blues Fusion; a dance that was meant for people to combine different styles of dance they know into a beautifully interwoven lead/follow connection that allows for heavy amounts of self expression and breaking of rules. However, it has become so sexual with people coming in and thinking there are no rules so they can do whatever they want, that i don’t enjoy it much anymore and i believe traditional blues scenes are paying the price with a degradation of quality of dance due to the influence Blues Fusion is having on it.

  43. Tim May 19, 2017 @ 4:06 pm

    Good article, and I relate. But as with everything I do, I do not let others hinder My happiness… I find the Right Congress (f.e. Bangkok Salsa Fiesta, Shanghai Kizomba Festival), limit partners…and of course adjust style per follower. Yes, its not only the follower…My Leg gets raped, My ass gets groped…and sometimes groped elsewhere…even got bitten once (But apologized at least). Its all worth that One Dance…unexpectedly puts You on that golden cloud to eternal bliss…

  44. Chris May 19, 2017 @ 4:13 pm

    I’m glad you brought up the harassment on the dance floor. It’s definitely a dialogue everybody needs to see and participate in to change the behavior.

    However, I disagree with you about blaming sensual bachata. Blaming the dance for “encouraging” guys to touch a girl inappropriately is the same as stating a girl “asked for it” by wearing a sexy outfit. It doesn’t matter how sexy the dance is, it is the guys fault if he crosses a line and disrespects the girl.

    • Stefani May 19, 2017 @ 7:24 pm

      No, I didn’t say the dance encouraged it. I said that people who are into that sort of thing are drawn to the dance

  45. Fausto Stubbs May 19, 2017 @ 5:02 pm

    I came from DR where the Bachata came front and is not the music, are the people that dance this music with the wrong intentions. Yo have a headache and take a couple of Tylenol and make you feel better, now take the whole bottle and will kill you. The Bachata is the same, who teach me to dance it was my aunt, I believe me, I do not want to have any sexual dance with her. And yes, I have dance sexually way Bachata, as the same way I did with disco music, lambada, merengue, salsa and recently with reggaeton. I repeat, is bot the music, are the dancers.

  46. Mel Fe May 19, 2017 @ 5:25 pm

    I agree wholeheartedly. Like any form of sexiness turned sexual harassment, there should be some room for consent. It is quite mild in comparison with your “ass up” incident, but I hate when men grab my wrists and MAKE ME CLAP MY HANDS like a toddler. Or they grab my wrists and shake them to make my breasts shake. It’s incredibly derogatory in my view and gives me an icky feeling. I once told a dance partner “no” and he cursed me out and threatened violence….to me and then my boyfriend. Scary times when we have so little say over who can touch our bodies and how. Your commentary is extremely valuable. I hope communities of respectful dancers will find their places to gather even as things trend more sexual.

  47. Marie May 19, 2017 @ 5:51 pm

    I agree with this article. I stopped dancing Batchata because of all these points listed here. It’s a shame because i like the music.

  48. Leo Nambo May 19, 2017 @ 6:06 pm

    I just have one thing to say to the author!!! Your article was posted yesterday an it has already stirred a conversation on Facebook within our bachata dance community here in Northern California (Sacramento, Davis, San Francisco). So your words did not go onto empty space and many people share many point within this article. Than you for bring up a conversation that many of us have been trying to bring but just didn’t know how to start!

  49. Julian May 19, 2017 @ 6:22 pm

    I’ve been dancing salsa for a while and have started to get into bachata, partly because of the different way it works, the change of pace and rhythm, and (like with cha-cha and merengue) so I can keep on dancing when those tracks get dropped into a social dance evening. We can’t avoid that these Latin dances all come from a macho culture with quite rigid roles, particularly the “tradition” of men leading, women following. (Though I’d advocate a regular evening when you reverse those roles and see how it goes!)

    Along with that, however, is the need for respect, for the men to be gentlemen and to lead with care, consideration and empathy. And as a “led” dance it needs structure and control. I suspect “sensual” bachata is taking its influence from the pop/dance video culture which, in some forms, also objectifies women.

    How to deal with it? Get the word out that groping and grinding is unacceptable. Walk away from a leader who tries it on, and tell him why. Recalling your earlier post (Subconcious Sexism), think about limits and engage with leaders to get those limits across to them. Leaders need to learn that some moves aren’t acceptable ever, and some are OK only with people they know and understand. (I don’t do dips, for example, because I personally don’t like the implication… also because I’m likely to drop my follower. Never a good idea!) But don’t stop dancing, let’s reclaim the dance for the dancers.

  50. ralphael May 19, 2017 @ 6:45 pm

    Who posted this?
    I want to meet her and have an actual real bachata dance with her full of consideration, communication (eyes & body), no objectification, but with playfulness like the traditional bachata.
    Hit me up on my email Hermosa, and let’s have a real dance together.

  51. Stephanie May 20, 2017 @ 12:20 am

    Thank you for writing this Stefani!

    Thank you for putting into words some of the problems I’ve been feeling about bachata recently.

    I started following some bachata accounts on instagram and almost everything they post is very similar and what upsets me must is the gaze of the camera/lead/viewer/audience is so objectifying of the female body!

  52. Anne May 20, 2017 @ 12:33 am

    Omg yes.

    Thank you for so eloquently and rationally covering these points.

    Salsa (usually) feels so joyful and light… it’s colourful and happy… but bachata feels icky. You can make salsa feel icky but it takes more effort… and well, it’s easy to avoid those leads 🙂

    For ages I thought it was just me- that I just couldn’t relax and “connect” and “let go” properly… but the longer I dance the ickier bachata seems… It feels like people are looking for more than dance in bachata rooms…

    The whole “connection” thing has to be accompanied by something – technique (which takes time and training and experience), respect, fun, joy, a sense of humour maybe? – to be “just dance”… else it easily tends towards ick.

  53. Kelly May 20, 2017 @ 6:22 am

    This is so true and I’m glad I’m not the only one who sees it. I love bachata but the more it evolves the less I want to go out and dance it.

  54. daniel May 20, 2017 @ 8:49 am

    Hay Stefani!

    my name is Daniel and im a bachata Dancer\Instructor in Israel and i do acknowledge the things you pointed out that are wrong with the scene.

    I do try and teach my students to listen to their partner and enjoy the musicality and the dance it self but i must say must of them dont pay attention to these things even after i point them out.

    but still , my club and the team of instructors we try to take out that sexual thinking and explain about sensuality and sexy moves like you said.

    i guess i just would like you to know that there are people(and lots of them) that see what you see and try to make a difference.

    i link down below my 2 bachata performances i would like to hear your opinion about them.

    thank you for sharing your thoughts ill pass this post on.

    Dont Ever Stop Dancing! 🙂



  55. Lorrie May 20, 2017 @ 1:27 pm

    I enjoy sensual bachata but too many men make it sexual bachata. They wont get future dances with me. I am new in the dance world but not young in years and I just want good dances. Happily I live in an area where if a certain venue has the type of crowd you are talking about…I can just find another.

    • Stefani May 20, 2017 @ 6:01 pm

      Good for you Lorrie! Stick to your guns and don’t settle for less than you deserve 🙂

  56. Mike May 20, 2017 @ 5:53 pm

    If you don’t like dancing with men then dance with your grandmother. Men dance because it attracts women, simple and plain. If you dont like it, dont dance with a man and dance with a woman instead since you all seem to want the same thing. Problem solved.

    • Stefani May 20, 2017 @ 6:00 pm

      lol. many women dance because they want to dance with men, too. but, as in life, we mostly prefer to dance with men who respect us. since you don’t appear to, i can’t imagine me or any woman feeling cared for or well connected with you in a dance

      • Mike May 21, 2017 @ 4:14 pm

        You don’t know me, do you? You’re assuming, and incorrectly. Any partner I’ve had could tell you otherwise.

        Here’s the real problem with you, Stefani, you think there is some actually line between “sensual” and “sexual”. The fact is that there isnt, you’re only referring to what YOU specifically are comfortable with, and want everyone to dance exactly like your preference. Do you see the problem with that?

        Secondly, men are called the lead for a reason. we run the show. if your personal preferences dont fit with the scene anymore then i’m sorry. take care.

        • Duna May 21, 2017 @ 9:08 pm

          Stefani I admire you for writing these posts knowing that you open yourself up to this kind of bullshit. I am openmouthed reading some of these comments. Seriously WHAT YEAR IS IT

        • Michael May 22, 2017 @ 10:49 pm

          @Mike, actually there is a line between “sensual” and “sexual”. We could watch a video clip and I can point out the “sensual” moves vs the “sexual” moves. Stefani is simply objecting to what is “over the top”, and what I personally consider “vulgar”. Sensual Bachata in my opinion is responsible for converting the scene to a hunting ground, men wanting to get laid. In my local clubs I can point them out easily. They come every weekend, dance only sensual Bachata, and mostly praying on the “young” ones, those with very little experience and easily impressed.
          Do you not consider that sticking your thigh between her legs and grinding away for 10-20 seconds is “over the top”…? Or how about sticking her ass in your groin, and grinding in circular motions for 10-20 seconds way too much…? If you find nothing wrong with this, then so be it, and I won’t judge you, but I personally disagree vehemently with it, as it degrades the dance, turning it into a vehicle for getting laid, rather than enjoying the dance for the sake and pleasure of dancing…
          Don’t get me wrong, I am no monk, I do like the girls, but I always put the dance first, and what comes after second. I respect dancing. I go dancing because it feels good. I don’t go dancing to pick-up ladies.There’s a difference.

          • Mike May 23, 2017 @ 3:22 pm

            You sound like you’re 80 years old, and your definition may not fit with someone else’s. Try to understand that.

  57. MariaBella B. May 20, 2017 @ 11:42 pm

    Hi Stefani,
    I just wondering why you choose a Asian Lady in the cover of this article of yours? Why not choose black, Latina, white woman or maybe your own photo? I would appreciate your explanation. Thank’s Bella

    • Jack February 19, 2020 @ 5:55 pm

      No, Mike; actually, he sounds like a normal, realistic and sincere guy. YOU, on the other hand, sound like a stupid, dirty minded and morally corrupt person. Good luck

  58. Freddy Castillo Barry May 21, 2017 @ 12:40 am

    Bachata sensual dance is not bachata dance but a fraud dance and scam dance…….

  59. […] great post describing very well what I experienced (though regarding a different dance style) here, from the perspective of a woman, if you’d like some corroboration of these […]

  60. L May 21, 2017 @ 10:19 am

    It’s interesting that in the whole article I cannot find a single instance of you mentioning actually making the dancer aware of your objections. Not even in the section on willingness to communicate. Are they supposed to read your mind (hint: people are bad at that)? Or are they supposed to read about it in this article afterwards? How are they supposed to know if nobody tells them? Especially if, as you complain, this is often people who are new to the dance? Also, why do you dance with people you don’t like to dance with?

    • Jomayra May 23, 2017 @ 10:01 pm

      Seriously dude? Under what other context would any of those things be ok?

      • Razvan January 8, 2019 @ 7:26 am

        The thing is that here you only get one side of the story. None of the accusations made here are backed by anything other than what the author said and claimed. You choose to believe that she is telling the truth. You have no idea if she was actually capable of describing things as they happened.
        Her standards are also not objective. They apply only to her.

  61. Brandon May 21, 2017 @ 2:50 pm

    So, i’ve kind of been on both sides of the sexualized bachate issue. I’ve was once that guy who did the unwelcome sensualized bachata. I don’t anymore. I don’t find it appropriate in public. So I dance ‘clean’ bachata. However, the last few years I notice at dances many ladies/girls seem to want the sensual version. It’s not just males who instigate it. I’ve had numerous dances, and have many all the time where ladies just seem to want to get a bit ‘too’ close,’ if one may, that one can see the disappointment when one doesn’t reciprocate. So, it cuts both ways. I think especially newer dancers men or women think bachata = sensual bachata. They seemingly can’t imagine it as nonsensual/grindind, so when one doesn’t they think ‘oh he’s wierd or ‘he/she doesn’t ‘know’ bachata.’ and I have to agree I’ve seen youtube clips of bachata and even salsa from Spain and they strike me as so showy, like so juvenile and competitive. It seems like a competition. I often wonder whether that’s the culture there. I doubt so. I know people from Spain who’re some of the smartest humble people possible. But those videos seem quite juvenile. But in general I do agree and I’ve mentioned it before, there seems to be a widespread conflation of bachata with sexualized grinding. I have no problem with ‘grinding.’ Love it, in a more appropriate environment.

    • Ian A. December 29, 2018 @ 10:02 pm

      Yes they try to tell you that you are too rough and just stand there in the slow smoochy fashion so that you conduct the dance like that! Then look directly at you like they are squaring up for the kiss. When they then resist having invited the kiss you leave them alone after the dance as that’s harassment right. It’s a shame but this girl can now be eliminated from your search as she is clearly not interested and you have been clear with her and not played tons of pointless mind games just stringing her on as some male teases also do. Then you get all the dirty looks and blatant jealousy ploys as to why your not pursuing her with a red rose clenched between your jaw ignoring you, dancing with your friend in front of you while looking at you for a reaction. Queuing with the other girls fo the DJ or visiting teacher etc.

  62. cindy May 22, 2017 @ 5:22 pm

    Everything is about sex these days. It’s just another trick of the devil.

  63. Cindy May 22, 2017 @ 7:27 pm

    I live in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, where I’ve been dancing salsa, bachata, etc. for ~14+ years. The local salsa/bachata dance scene has become much more focussed on performance, competition, & attending congresses over the past few years, which has had its pro & con effects on the current social dance scene. While it has generally raised the skills of dancers & injected some much needed life into the local scene, it has also had many of the negative influences you’ve mentioned in this article. I’ve posted your article on Fb in the hopes it will be a catalyst for discussion in our community. Thank you!

  64. JAS May 22, 2017 @ 8:34 pm

    We share personal experiences to educate and bring awareness to our communities. Thank you Stefani, for sharing this with us! I for one love all styles of Dance. I have been an instructor for over 15 years and have seen the changes in the community. I believe that there is a solution for every issue. Starting with the Instructors, Promoters, and ending with the dancers themselves. We can change the stigma of Sensuality being misinterpreted by Sexuality. We all have an important role in our communities. Not only the dance community but the one you live in as well. Here we have a personal experience of ONE dancer who feels like her dance community is being taken away from her. On the other hand, you have ONE dancer who is taking action to change this. She is not blaming anyone or saying that is true for every female dancer in any dance scene. Nor is she saying that it is sensual bachata the one to blame. This just happened to be an unfortunate situation that occurred in the bachata sensual event/s that she attended. I want to end with this, be kind to one another and respect your community!

  65. Michael May 22, 2017 @ 10:29 pm

    Well said..!!! The “ass” first move is simply a strip join type move, and really, honestly, just doesn’t belong in a “social” dance setting. I’ve been out of the dance for 11 years, and just recently have come back on the scene, only to be horrified at what I’m discovering. I’m strictly a Salsa dancer, and whilst I appreciate Bachata, the sensual variant is simply much too “vulgar” for a social setting, composed of complete strangers.
    Unfortunately, you said, sex does sell, and the younger generation are easily impressed, and badly influenced. And sadly they end behaving very much like “sheep”.
    I’ve been ranting and raving about the vulgarity of it ever since I’ve returned to the scene, but I am told quite ceremoniously that “it’s just a dance”. Sadly, it would seem, quite a lot of girls/women have no problems at being groped, fondled, touched up, and sexed-up by men as long as they have a socially accepted, albeit benign way out, by simply saying “it’s just a dance”.
    Some ladies have told me they don’t accept certain moves, or too much intimacy, but since I’ve returned to the scene, I’ve not seen any lady actively “refuse” or “reject” anything. Lets face it, you can not know what the man will do until you’re actually dancing with him, right? I suppose you could watch dancers beforehand, but how many ladies actually spend the time doing recon? Most ladies are too eager to dance as much as possible, not a song wasted, not a minute lost.,,
    Where I am, in Romania, I am seeing a trend, that of ladies learning Bachata and Kizomba first, and maybe Salsa second, which make sense, since Bachata is simpler than Salsa, and also romantic. I find it quite amusing when the ladies sing along, truly living the moment, immersing themselves in the Bachata song/dance, as if they are experiencing a “fairy” tale moment…all that’s missing is some knight in shining armor bursting through the doors, riding a white horse, to whisk them away to live happily ever after… 🙂 pardon my sarcasm, but it’s just so bloody wrong…sooooooooooooooooo infantile…and not to mention that this sing along can happen several times in one night, night after night, week after week…
    I watch from the sidelines, and remember teaching about “personal space”, the importance of respecting your partner, and putting dance first, but in this day and age, that has very little importance, people care more about screwing anything that moves, and that’s that. You can dress it up any way you like, but that’s the ugly truth, and it applies to both sexes.
    Frankly, I dread the idea of having a girlfriend and her dancing sensual Bachata. I know I couldn’t take it. I would be perfectly fine if there was no “vulgarity” involved, but as it stands, I simply can not comprehend how one can be so “intimate” with a dance partner, whilst your real life partner is watching…
    In the meantime, I’ll be sticking to my trusty old Salsa, and maybe, just maybe, a little Dominican Bachata… M.

    • Stefani May 23, 2017 @ 1:34 pm

      I really like your point about the women singing along. You don’t see this much in London, but it is very popular in France. And I think you are right that there’s a sort of fairytale element to it. I personally feel drawn to dance, and bachata in particular, because it provides a fantasy. Four minutes in which someone takes care of me and treats me like they love me. I think for some other people it is much the same, even if they don’t necessarily know it. Fortunately over time I have learned to recognize who really cares and who doesn’t, and for better or worse I have come to only really enjoy dancing with the people who do care. <3

  66. Azzy May 23, 2017 @ 5:49 am

    Thank you for this article – I agree with so much of this!
    I reshared the link to your article with my personal input I’m copy+pasting here:
    I started learning Latin dance (salsa bachata, etc) over 10 years ago; I come from the school of thought to be an ‘overall’ dancer; be good at your basics, be good at salsa AND bachata, respect the history of the dance style you are learning (if it’s not your culture, learn about it from instructors who can educate you). The problem is, there are too many dancers who are not even comfortable enough with themselves as dancers who want to bust out overly sensual and advanced moves on the dancefloor; who don’t care about making connections with the person they are dancing with, and as followers, we just get forced into these big moves and are made to feel uncomfortable. Also, I feel like there seems to be a ‘sensual bachata’ factory somewhere churning out artists who are all selling the same formula; usually a hot couple, who do dance demos almost making out with each other, selling their ‘sensuality’. Nothing wrong with that; we’ve all always admired dance couples who are good at what they do especially if they really are amazing dancers; but the problem is they are selling their “image” and everyone is buying; like an express ticket to a ‘sexy dancer identity’ that everyone wants to have; but in reality not enough dancers are actually well-practised enough in their dance skills, and just haven’t invested into their dance style to be comfortable and be able to make someone they are dancing with feel comfortable. So dancers skip ahead to the ‘sensual moves’ and it just feels forced. Also really appreciated the part of this article that mentions how younger dancers just don’t know how to act right – too much self-absorption and focus on this culture of wanting to be recorded and performing ‘social demos’ – everyone is doing it for attention and not for the ‘love of dancing’ or with the objective to connect.
    We cannot stop dance styles from evolving (I understand there is a similar debate over Kizomba and Urban Kiz) and it’s great to embrace modernity and fuse together music, etc; but my personal take is I don’t enjoy a large percentage of my dances because of this weird forced sensuality and doing sensual bachata moves (you learned from a workshop that day) don’t maketh the sensual dancer.

    • Stefani May 23, 2017 @ 1:31 pm

      I love this. <3 <3 <3 Thank you for sharing

  67. Cubanisima May 23, 2017 @ 1:01 pm

    Couldn’t agree more. As an organizer who cares about the audience I have more than once heard complaints from female dancers. And have had to (politely) have a little talk with some of the male dancers. But it IS hard for the average and passionate dancer to stay on the right side of the line, when show- and professional dancers showcase and advocate moves that are just too much if no agreement has been made between the partners.

  68. Jomayra May 23, 2017 @ 9:59 pm

    Preach Girl!!!!!! A thousand times over thank you for writing this. I’m Dominican. Bachata is in my DNA, but I got pulled into the Latin dance scene 7 years ago by salsa. That’s when I began embracing my roots. I fell in love with dancing and even more so with sharing true passion and love for the craft with others who loved nothing more than dance. Then… came salsafied bachata courtesy of ataca and alemana and sensual. I embraced sensual… took me a while, but I joined a team and made some wonderful connections there. I left the scene last year because of everything you’ve just written about. It feels good to know I’m not alone.

    • Sara June 21, 2017 @ 1:00 am

      Thank you for writing this post. Everything you’ve written about strikes so close to home. I personally was assaulted by an instructor in the sensual bachata scene this year and to my knowledge, my case isn’t an isolated one. Despite filing a police report, I understand this instructor is still being invited to teach at congresses around the US. You’ve highlighted everything wrong with the bachata (and many other social dance) scene. I definitely hope people start to talk and educate the scene about this because these kinds of paternalistic, predatory behaviors hurts and alienates everyone.

  69. Nitesh May 24, 2017 @ 8:40 am

    Try Tango!

  70. Just. Say. No. – The Perfect Follow May 24, 2017 @ 1:06 pm

    […] the wake of last week’s viral post on the sexualization of bachata, I have one very important thing I’d like to say to all the […]

  71. Nick May 25, 2017 @ 6:41 am

    There is so much right and so much wrong with this post. All of it revolves around perspective and point of view. Who has it, whose view is being expressed. With that in mind, let me start by mentioning what I see wrong. While the perspective is hers, the focus of the post express a certainty that there something wrong with Bachata. That is the first problem, an authoritative voice claiming a clear definitive answer to the problem of Bachata. Second, she blames sexuality, a moral judgement. And finally, she places the blame squarely on Men. Now, her perspective does offer insight into the way this woman, and by extension, a lot of other women feel about the way guys, not gentleman, take liberties with the dance and thus their partner.

  72. Megan May 26, 2017 @ 11:26 am

    Hi Stefani! This is only partially related, but I have a question/concern that I was wondering if you could possibly speak to… I’ve just started dancing zouk (coming from a swing and ballroom/dancesport background) and I’m already utterly in love with zouk, but the number of creepy men and unwanted advances I’ve gotten at socials is really upsetting. I don’t know if it’s zouk in particular, or all the Afro-Latin social dances, but it’s at a level that I haven’t experienced previously and I’m not really sure how to handle it. I’m 19, female/a follow, and white with long blonde hair so I tend to stand out of the general crowd at socials here… Maybe I’m being targeted moreso as a newbie/outsider, but it’s very unpleasant and it makes me nervous that I have to be subjected to much older men’s sexual motivation and advances. I have zero experience with men (never had sex or so much as been in a relationship) in my personal life and I’m quite shy/reserved/introverted, so I feel very out of my depth and find it hard to assert myself in these situations. I know in theory that I have the right to refuse or end a dance for the sake of protecting myself physically/mentally, but I can’t let go of the societal and dance-specific conditioning of always saying yes/being accommodating and polite. Zouk has a lot of moves which are inherently sexual and I can’t avoid them with leaders that are much older and creepy… Sorry if this has been one long incoherent ramble, but I don’t know what to do. I love zouk and I really want to pursue i, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to “get over” the creepy factor that seems to come along with many of the men In th scene.

    • GoodFella October 10, 2017 @ 4:52 pm

      If a guy gropes or kisses during a dance (any dance), it’s unacceptable. However, saying that bachata sucks because there are some guys that kissed someone during a bachata dance amounts to saying that flying sucks because I did not like the sandwich they served last time. You do not stop flying just because you did not like the food on the last red eye, right? See my point?

      Now, if you, being a teenager, feel uncomfortable when a 30 year old guy dances with you in closed hold, I’d say maybe you should try some other dances or hobbies. There are a lot of wonderful activities that are suitable for teenagers, e.g. hip hop or aerobics. There are reasons why people under 18 or 21 are not allowed into clubs. Notice, however, that most classical dances (like tango or foxtrot) require a more intimate hold than bachata or even kizomba. You can of course claim that, as a 19 year old, you feel uncomfortable dancing these dances, and that’s your privilege. So: who forces you to go to a club and dance tango or sensual bachata? Who forces you to accept a dance with a guy whoi is older than you (if, as you think, all of them are creepy, which is a really weird generalization, only excusable due to lack of people knowledge)?

      Even in a Latin club, you can dance Dominican bachata, if they play the right music. Unless of course holding each others’ hands is ok for you. Also, normally, they teach you in classes how the girl can keep distance from the guy in a closed hold – the distance she creates can be pretty much anything, and no man will be able to force a closer hold than she really is willing to accept. These are the basics.

      I suggest you wait some years, take classes, and then come up with a more mature judgement. Good luck!

  73. DJ Vamp May 26, 2017 @ 10:14 pm

    Actually, I found it quite shocking when you mentioned people were regularly kissing you on the mouth on dance parties. Almost never experienced that overseeing a crowd as a DJ here in West Germany. Nevertheless, I think you are right in most points. The sad thing, however, is that you tend to turn your back on the Bachata scene just because many people do not understand what Bachata actually is.

    And yes, there is a Bachata Sensual factory behind that which primarily wants to make money and establish it as a brand. This is nothing bad per se but they underestimate the problem you mentioned. Nowadays, artists have to work against this movement in their classes.

    I try to work against this flow, too, also explaining this on my homepage:
    Feel free to visit and share your opinion:

    Best regards,
    DJ Vamp

  74. Michelle Hobman May 28, 2017 @ 12:12 am

    Such a well written article. We are fortunate in our dancing world to meet respectful sensual beautiful leaders and followers enjoying the totality of the shared experience of giving & receiving. It is unfortunate in a lot of situations where both genders fail to read or lack sophistication to understand signals and boundaries, I have been subjected to all of the above & there is nothing more perfect than mutual respect on & off the dance floor. Lack of respect equals lack of respects for oneself. Know thyself first. Thank you Stefan. ???

  75. Latina June 26, 2017 @ 10:25 am

    Bachata is for Latin Americans who can handle its sensuality and sexuality. Obviously it’s not for you.

    • Jeff May 19, 2018 @ 2:02 pm

      ROTFLMAO. Well, I suppose when you get to run to confession afterwards to ask forgiveness for the acts you portrayed on the dance floor, then you probably think what you did was fine. Personally, I don’t even want my wife dancing up on me like that. It makes me really freaking uncomfortable. But then, I’m an adult from a different generation, not some child desperate for attention.

  76. Ivan July 19, 2017 @ 9:28 am

    Hey, don’t worry real Bachata is still live!
    Come to Dominican Flow Fest in Moscow this november

  77. Mermaid25 July 27, 2017 @ 11:23 pm

    Thank you for the wealth of information that you have shared on your website! I want to take up Bachata, as it looks like a lot of fun, but this sounds scary. I hope you slapped the guy who kissed you on the mouth without consent (or at least stepped hard on his foot!

    An article, about how a woman can better assert personal space be it Kizomba, Bachata or Zouk would be much appreciated! I know the hand on the inside shoulder with the elbow facing outward move…but that’s about it.

  78. Micheal September 9, 2017 @ 4:13 am

    I’m a guy, I thought bachata looked interesting to learn and would help boost my confidence in being able to dance with a lady. So it isn’t a good first dance to learn? I always feel to shy to dance so i’m thinking of using my first pay check to buy dance lessons. After reading your post and the comments I felt like maybe it wasn’t a good dance to learn, I kind of want to just be a good social dancer. Is there any dance types that work in most social scenes?

    • Just Thinkin September 16, 2017 @ 9:49 pm

      I agree: Bachata is not a good dance to learn, indeed. Almost nobody is dancing it, so awful it is. I suggest you try minuet or pavane instead. They look very cool if done properly (especially if you also put up a costume from the period). Sexual connotations and objectifying of woman’s and man’s bodies are minimal in both minuet and pavane, so nobody’s gonna write a blog like this about those dances. (But I guess 400 ago some old ladies might have considered those dances quite… objectifying, you know 🙂

  79. Just Thinkin September 15, 2017 @ 10:03 pm

    Ehhh… Well, dancing IS sexual. Good old waltz is extremely sexual (it is much more sexual than kizomba, let alone bachata,because in waltz there is full body contact from toe to chest at ALL TIMES.

    If all you can think about when you are dancing is that this is an objectifying of woman’s/man’s body, and this is too sexual for you, then I suggest you stick to e.g. minuet or polka. Aerobics and jogging are a nice workout, too (and nobody is watching, so you will feel completely safe and not in any way diminished in your rightful rights).

    Or have I missed something?

  80. Becky October 1, 2017 @ 1:38 am

    Really? You disparage other instructors (women nonetheless!) of objectifying women and yet, you are the one who goes out and kissed by a stranger EVERY time? Are you serious? You have some sort of goddess complex that all the social bachata dancers want you? Who is telling you to go do that? I have been a social dancer for over a decade in the LA area and can assure you, you are not all that hot for guys to be overcome with such passion as to want to kiss you because of the dancing. Perhaps you need to watch your (or their) level of intoxication before agreeing to dance. And obviously you are enjoying the attention if you keep doing it! Seems to me you were too overwhelmed with your women’s studies classes and are trying to find an excuse to write off your behavior. I know and have danced with hundreds of bachateros in the area and they are sensual, sexy and yet very respectful of women. They make more objectifying jokes than my girlfriends (we are out having a fun time not writing article after article – see the list of your articles!) bitching about what you dont like about this that and the other. No one is forcing you to dance!

  81. Stephanie October 1, 2017 @ 12:48 pm

    Oh Stefani, I am ashamed to see we share a name, at least the sound of it. You are critical of Ataca and Alemana and yet you seem to be the needy one trying to draw attention by writing pseudo intellectual, pseudo feminist crap! Are you the Queen telling us why she will not dance because she has her panties in a bunch? Who cares? If you give it that title, an article is useful only if it offers solutions, which by the looks of it, should be therapy for you!

    From what you would have us believe, your highness goes to the clubs, modesty oozing out of every pore, intending to do the “traditional bachata” and evil men emerge from the dark, forcing you to dance sensually and then kiss you? And the reason for this is the performers and instructors who have strayed and given in to bachata sensual? Go get a life and stop coming to salsa clubs. We do not want you around. Next you will write an article on how every time you turn on your computer, porn pops up. Right? Those evil men at Apple and Microsoft make you do it, right? I guess you have never had a boyfriend or husband or brother or a male friend who dances. Your generalizations reflect on your racist, sexist attitudes so STFU.

    • Jeff May 19, 2018 @ 1:52 pm

      LOL. Considering your absurd reaction it is apparent that you recognized yourself in this article. The author is dead on. I suppose you think you look sexy cool dry humping some clown’s thigh on the dance floor, but to me, it just appears to be a lack of dignity on both your parts. For me, it makes me feel like some creepy voyeur when I witness such a display. That’s a feeling I don’t appreciate being forced upon me. Now, you might want to label me as an uptight, repressed, old man because of my attitude regarding your preferred dance style but you would be wrong. Here’s my credentials. My wife and I both ride motorcycles. We attend adults-only motorcycle rallies where running around naked and open air sexual encounters are common. We were swingers. We’re the people who actually did the stuff with strangers that you only have the nerve to pretend at on the dance floor. So, take your own advice and STFU!!!

  82. GoodFella October 10, 2017 @ 4:59 pm

    Why do not care if you don’t dance bachata any more

    If a guy gropes or kisses during a dance (any dance), it’s unacceptable. However, saying that bachata sucks because there are some guys that kissed someone during a bachata dance amounts to saying that flying sucks because I did not like the sandwich they served last time. You do not stop flying just because you did not like the food on the last red eye, right? See my point?

    Now, you can, of course, organize a campaign trying to get people of the dance floors or trying to change the way they dance. However, I’d say it is about as sensible as trying to convince people to stop flying because you did not like that sandwich a few weeks ago.No one will really care, and I doubt that the sandwiches get any better.

    I think, if a guy kissed you, you drop him on the floor and walk away. And tell your girlfriends about what happened, and point this guy out to them. This is how you deal with it. Just the way you would deal with a bad sandwich on a plane.

    • Shawn November 20, 2017 @ 2:39 pm

      I think more often than not women could actually get away with this last idea of dropping men on the floor when they assault. lol: ‘bad sandwich on a plane.’ Drop that flight attendant on the floor!

  83. Shawn November 20, 2017 @ 2:37 pm

    Evocative article. I appreciate it. My very first impression of bachata was negative along the lines you outline, that it seems too sexy. I also offer praise to La Rosa for their comment about not letting it stop you. I guess it may not be possible to dance enough in your scene if you take a policy of only dancing conservative or something, but in general I like the standard that says if you can circumscribe the negative with 2 or 4 sentences up front, do it and change the culture that way by showing the power of direct communication and simultaneously actively creating a micro community or at least a pool of like minded partners.

    The convention/congress scene is everywhere across most activities from academics to underwater hockey. So much dancing in my town, so I can’t imagine making a trip just to do too much of it on a weekend. But that’s not what it’s about. It’s about traveling to set up for a weekend of binge drinking. I like that even less. Yum: self aggrandizement, objectification of others, and binge drinking. sign me up!

  84. ROAH November 30, 2017 @ 2:56 am

    Hey Stefani and everybody, great article and comments!

    I am relatively new to the scene, having only danced salsa for around a year. I did learn some Dominican Bachata, but observing a lot of sensual bachata on the dance floor has made me ask this question: What exactly is the difference between sensual and sexual?

    As I’m not single, I’d be comfortable dancing a sensual dance (where all my senses are used and incorporated into the dance) but much less comfortable dancing a sexual dance.

    I appreciate that what is sensual / sexual for everybody.

    But I simply can’t see how body rolls / waves / making a girl stick their ass out in the air type moves in the sensual bachata isn’t sexual.

    Interestingly, body rolls in hip hop and salsa – totally non-sexual. Perhaps because the body rolls / waves are not usually simulating (or otherwise) a girl grinding up against a guy’s thigh.

    I’m genuinely interested to know how everyone else in the dance scene make this distinction.

    I’ve been told before (usually by single guys and girls dancing sensual) that “it’s just dancing” and “it doesn’t mean anything”. But whenever I asked them, “will you dance sensual with your father / mother / brother / sister”, I’m usually met with a “ewwwww no!” or similarly creeped out response. But if it’s non-sexual, then why would this be creepy?

    Similarly, whilst in my local club I’ve fortunately never heard of or seen anyone kiss or otherwise sexually assault anyone because of sensual, it is blatantly clear that the girls who are body-rolled / waved are inevitably young, attractive, very beautiful and model-thin. Again, if it is just dancing, why would the sensual bachateros not dance like that with all followers? There is one bachatero in our club famous for his endless body-rolls and waves – I saw him dance bachata with another male follower, curiously, he didn’t execute a single body-roll / wave!

    So it seems to me that I’m not the only one who at least senses that perhaps there’s a sexual element in sensual bachata.

    But what do you guys think? Is there a difference between sensual and sexual? Or is sensual just a euphemism for sexual bachata?

    • Ads December 18, 2018 @ 11:21 pm

      Interesting point Roah, the style I am being taught is different to yours!

      The only time I do a body roll where I’m touching the girl is in shadow position (where she is facing the same direction as me), and even then it’s only my right hip in contact with her left enough for her to feel the lead. There’s definitely no grinding!

      For me sensual is teasing, so there are moves where you have to be close (but not touching) in order for the step to work/feel good.

      Having said that I come from a ballroom background, so I have been doing dances for years with constant pelvis to pelvis contact, lots of ‘upper leg’ contact etc, and they aren’t the slightest bit sleazy.

      Perhaps it has more to do with the mindset of the person you are dancing with. I can certainly understand how it would be extremely off-putting for females, and hard to address.

  85. Helena November 30, 2017 @ 6:21 am

    Had to check to make sure I didn’t write this article in my sleep or something…… Nails down everything I’ve been feeling about the scene recently. Thank you for writing this.

  86. Shawn November 30, 2017 @ 7:03 pm

    It’s time for more song recommendations please. I love your one about Pablo Alboran’s Perdoname. How about a top ten?

  87. Guy Lovell December 28, 2017 @ 1:08 am

    To add a little twist to this… unfortunately this thing has become a “thing.” Youtube and other forms of social media has been pushing the new style of bachata (sensual, sexy, etc.) and everyone wants to learn it. The problem is people seem to no longer have an interest in the traditional way of bachata which is essence is not a hard dance to learn being you can easily dance this with your mom but today, I would never dance bachata with my mom… NO WAY!!!

    Owning a business is even harder because if you want to teach the “traditional” way, that is not the market so you feel somewhat trapped. Should I teach the new way or old way or try to combine the two. The perfect analogy is a child wanting to eat sugar all day and you know it is bad for them and try to push vegetables and the child rejects it so you have to come up with ways to circumvent that.

    I need to go into a time machine and travel back when bachata was just bachata…

  88. Karin January 6, 2018 @ 7:53 pm

    It is 2018. Don’t let anyone make you feel uncomfortable! Speak up! Right then and there on the dance floor proclaim loudly “THIS IS INAPPROPRIATE!” and you will see the little weasels run for the exit! It is as unacceptable on the dance floor as it is in the workplace. Better yet, get away from Sensual Bachata (which sucks anyway) and come the Dominican Republic and see how the real dancers do it, where your connection to your partner and to the music is everything! I have danced up close and personal with many Dominicans but have never been made to feel uncomfortable.

  89. Kizomba January 8, 2018 @ 11:29 am

    Great post and insights. Again thanks for sharing your knowledge with us. I found a lot of useful tips from this post.
    I also adore Kizomba dance. Kizomba is slow and sensual. It is fun and amazingly interesting to do. It can keep you fit physically, for sure, but also, psychologically as it is a great stress buster. It is not only a dance form, it is an emotional and connecting piece of art. It is designed to make you and your partner feel closer and more connected emotionally.

  90. Jason January 22, 2018 @ 10:54 pm

    I want to say that the only reason I dance Bachata is because it is sensual and sexy. Dominican Bachata? Not interesting or sexy to me. There are times when I dance and it’s just enjoying the music and having a brief connection with a lady. Most of the time I’m looking for a nice dance with a women I find sexy or attracted to. THIS IS A SENSUAL DANCE AND WE ALL DRESS TO PROMOTE THAT SO YES IM GONNA ADMIRE YOUR ASS, face,hair, boobs, legs, so if you aren’t ok with that move to the ballroom dancing room.

    • Sol April 20, 2018 @ 1:33 pm

      People with your kind of attitude should be kicked out of the dance scene. You have bigger problems in life than sexy dancing

  91. Murfy January 23, 2018 @ 2:54 am

    I really enjoyed reading your article and appreciate that you shared the honest thoughts. I really appreciate you have put these into such beautiful words. I have been through as traumatic experience in the Bachata community and the team I was on in St.Louis a while ago, but couldn’t stand up for myself or talk it out (which I wanted to so bad). I strongly agreed that on Bachata scene people emphasized too much of the look and image instead of the dance. Whenever I go to the club in St.Louis to dance, I feel most girls went there dressed up and be pretty, guys there watching and touching, a typical example of objectifying women.
    While on the team, my team leader (alas, they moved on Charlotte) constantly made dirty jokes to the class (which would definitely be strongly against the rules in professional teaching setting) and the couple (the leaders) made a lot of drama by hooking up people on the team, leading the gossips around the group, trying to evoke jealousy among dancers, making people compete with each other… I loved someone on the team and they often failed to keep promise and paired him up with other dancers, then blamed me for being jealous or influencing their businesses. While I was always loyal to them they accused me of being disloyal and asked me to apologize in person even when I just took a lesson or attend an event of other instructor’s. There is so much competition among the instructors that they are focusing on competing for dancers and creating drama rather than improving the quality of the dance/team. Besides, as a dancer myself for years they tried to tell me I can’t dance without pointing out specific problems to fix it. As a teacher myself this is intolerable. I was suffocated, so I quitted. One year after I quitted, the lady in charge still called me up to list my “issues” to affect their business. How ridiculous!
    Then after all that I go to congresses, dance clubs just trying to have fun. Already hard to get back to my passion after all those dramas, I constantly get sexually harassed in dance clubs and congresses, asking me out after a dance in congress, dragging me to be close to their “part” and feel them excited, not dancing but just touching and moving around on a crowded floor… Seems many guys out there assume we women are available to sleep with them if we dance sexy with them while they lead us to do the sexy moves.
    To me, dancing was my soul since youth, and I do many types of dancing. But I was not lucky to have a good experience in bachata (starting off in a troublesome dance team, then having come across some bad experiences). Those all killed my joy of latin dancing. If I had more power, I wish we could set up a committee among Latin dance scene to protect women’s rights just like the schools, have Title IV lawyers and officers/volunteers to handle these complaints. Such experience not killed girls’ joy of dancing but also ruined some good guys’ reputation as now we tend to feel bad about the whole bachata scene. It’s time to get together and act up!

  92. T February 4, 2018 @ 7:14 am

    Just read your article and am truly grateful for it.

    I have been in the scene for about 10 years now, have performed and watched the growing popularity and change of bachata over the years.

    It is a dance I truly love and I listen to the music constantly, however, it saddens me how much I have grown to dislike it.

    I get scared now going to bachata nights simply because my body is treated so roughly that I have left the night feeling in need of a physiotherapist to help put my body back together.

    With the sexualisation part, I have watched many female teachers and have seen them voluntarily posing without leads and presenting themselves in overly sexual ways. Yes men have a part in it, but I do feel that women feel they can’t look sexy by simply enjoying the dance in its own right, they have to push it further.

    I am truly grateful for this article though, for a long time I felt I was alone i this feeling, but its nice to see not only your article but also numerous comments below in agreement.

  93. Michael Feld February 12, 2018 @ 6:25 am

    I have to agree with you, I’ve tried a number of dances as a fun thing to do and as a social outlet, I discovered a Zouk community through a conference I attended recently. I was initially excited to discover a dance that was using some hip electronic music I like and a community that seemed open and welcoming

    Cut to a dance class I went to tonight, there was something definitely off about the evening, and I think your article is on the nose describing how I felt. This is a young crowd mostly, to be fair, but I felt like their priorities were in all the wrong places. There was a dark undercurrent of competition through the whole thing (mostly eminating from the teachers) who seemed to have different takes on the steps and no consensus in the room about the techniques. I don’t appreciate being yelled at if I can’t get the steps right away, that’s not very welcoming or pedegogically sound behavior, and is frankly childish.

    I was also dismayed by the lack of interest in origin and tradition, which I feel bordered on appropriation. There was no talk of the culture, which was another red flag for me. There was a fair amount of talk about connection, yet so many of the dancers in the room had trouble with eye contact, which made for an uncomfortable experience. Yes, some of the moves by the more experienced dancers could be seen as being sexualized, I can’t speak to that and consenting adults can do what they want. But I did feel like a few (not all) of the participants were using the moves to push boundaries. That is what it is.

    The main issue as I saw it was, as you so succinctly put it, valuing performance and flashiness (is that a word?) over connection and feel. The demo after the dance class felt like a. a demonstration of how much better the facilitators felt they were than everyone else, b. had nothing to do with the music and ignored any semblance of tempo or lyricism and c. frankly treaded the line between partner dance and club hookup culture.

    This is just my perspective, I got a weird vibe and am pretty disappointed with the experience, not sure if I will be going back to another class any time soon.

  94. Sol April 20, 2018 @ 1:25 pm

    You are spot on in what you write, but you let everyone off the hook. Everyone that contributes to what sensual has become is not to be blamed as you have repeatedly stated.

    I will take license to be harsh and direct.

    Sensual is an European invention. Let’s not call it bachata and promote cultural appropriation (there really aren’t two sides to it. Neither the music (bad popular pop remixes) nor the dance is anything that can recognize as bachata. Coming from USA I was rather shocked to see “sensual bachata” in Europe and its popularity here. If people like and enjoy more power to them. Enjoy it and promote it but please don’t say it is bachatas. Because it isn’t.

    As for about getting kissed on lips at almost every event as you alluded to, I am flabbergasted that you still patronized your local scene for as long as you did. I know many scenes, a regular at many dance events and travel for dancing often. Other than as an exception and rare occurrence, I have never seen anyone being kissed on dance floor against their consent. On those rare occasion when an aggressor indulges is such, he is quickly outcast or at least his notoriety preceded him. More surprising is that you appear to dance a variety of dances, you stuck with the molesting sensual bachata scene.

  95. Jeff Ervin May 19, 2018 @ 3:53 am

    I agree with your sentiments regarding “sensual” Bachata. I feel the same about Zouk and Kizomba. When I see couples dancing thus I feel like a creepy voyeur peeping through their bedroom window while they are having sex. And, I avoid dance moves that make me feel like I am the one being spied upon during sex. I’ve witnessed dance moves on a nightclub dance floor that would have, in my opinion, been suitable and acceptable only for the dance floor at a swingers club. When people start that kind of dancing my wife and I change out of our dance shoes and go home.

  96. Melky Sedec June 21, 2018 @ 6:21 am

    Just for context, I’m a New York born Dominican. I’ve played for Bachata artist Domenic Marte, currently play for the Merengue band Oro Solido, and have played with one of the original Bachata guitarists in Jaime Mendoza.

    I’m going to make this short and sweet. My musician friends who play for top Bachata acts are disgusted by Bachata Sensual. Most of the “dancers” don’t even know how to move properly. Bachata Sensual DJs for the most part have very little knowledge of the eras and of the hit songs that pertain to them. And the worst part is that Dominican and Puerto Rican youth are being turned off to Bachata thanks to Bachata Sensual.

    Salsa has died in Puerto Rico because the youth didn’t want to be associated with a genre that was coopted by the “congresses” and “socials” etc, etc. Our music was meant to be played in parties and was also meant to retain certain roots. If Bachata Sensual keeps growing, then Bachata is going to die for my people. And if anyone here understood how much it took for Bachata to be where it is, you would understand why this is concerning to anyone of us who’s privileged to play it. Dembow, Reggaeton and Latin Trap is the new wave with our youth. And unfortunately the “dance scene” that breeds Bachata Sensual is a big factor. We just find the formal Salsa/Bachata dancing scene to be corny because it’s too structured. NO ONE in our culture counts when they dance… Not even the pros… Meanwhile, those who didn’t grow up with our music are going beyond counting… Their creating a style that has zero to do with what WE intended Bachata to be.

  97. Enrique July 21, 2018 @ 5:50 pm

    Agreed with Sedec.
    I am Spanish from Andalusia. When we dance here, “all” dance (from the granny to the 4 y old, from the waiter to the notary) mixed together, and there’s no “grinding” on a guy’s thigh on the floor, cs it’s considered vulgar (you’ll only find it in a whore house in Spain! or… in anglo expat communities’ parties where they think it’s normal)

    In Spain (and most southern EU) we are taught to dance for enjoyment (weddings, bdays etc) and occasionally we’ll feel a spark of sexuality fire up during a dance – during an entirely “non grinding on a man’s crouch or thigh” civil dance. If the lady likes you, as a male you can easily tell. She won’t like you “more” if you force acrobatic moves on her, or if you stick your thigh more often between her legs.

    What looks to me as the main problem, is that males no longer know how to pick up the more subtle signals of a woman who “is ready for more than just dancing”. Guys seem to think that by being excessively intimate, vulgar…that they’ll have higher chances for sex. Fellow: the opposite, is true!
    You dance with the girl. You get modestly close, and then you try to PICK UP on her vibes ( is she putting her arms around your neck too long? is she looking into your eyes too long? is she postponing going to the ladies room too long?). Its so easy to pick up, her vibes.
    And if there -are- no vibes from her side: guys, give it a rest. It won’t get you anywhere to start forcing your lady to dirty dance with you. At all.
    In fact, a drink at the bar, and a chance for her to get to know you, yes, YOU (as a non dancer! like what do you do in life?) will give you much higher chances to get her to decide to sleep with you. So if you don’t feel the sexual vibe? then bring her to the bar and offer her to get to know YOU.

  98. Anonymous October 3, 2018 @ 11:26 am

    Interesting post! I agree with a lot of points of what you’ve said and being a Londoner myself, agree with what I’m seeing with the scene.

    I’ve semi-dropped it because I feel no one really dances to enjoy music that much anymore and are there to pick up instead. While I was bought into the dance scene through Bachata Sensual and have no enthusiastic love for Dominican, I feel it’s incredibly sad to see Bachata nights killing off the music of it’s roots because the modern remixes are taking over.

    Now switching to Zouk and having a good understanding of body mechanics and seeing the movements perform on the Bachata dance floor, I think it’s really terrible how leads force girls into awkward and even potentially injury-prone positions with full disregard. This is further exemplified when the scene now has a club-mentality that if you dance with a girl more than once, it means you like her. Reality is that the scene needs to grow up and realise that you can’t just have one dance and throw all your best moves on her without truly understanding her capabilities.

    I also think the main Bachata Saturday hosts are a little far too indulgent in themselves and teach Bachata poorly in minimal space, attention and far too many people – this promotes poor techniques and fast food quality dancers. The hosts definitely need to present themselves and their scenes better and there are dance schools in London that promote amazing dance etiquette and attitude such as UKDC.

    Case in point, the Bachata scene needs to be less about routines and moves and more about musicality and dance etiquette.

  99. xu ji October 28, 2018 @ 6:40 pm

    I am a guy, and I am with you 100%. How did Bachata in North American and Europe get to become so sexualized? True, in the DR, it had a bad reputation right at the beginning. But when it started out here, it wasn’t like that. Sexy dancing is fun with a GF or BF, but a random person? uh uh. not for me. and the super-sexy clothes that the lady DANCE INSTRUCTORS wear in dance classes – what kind of message is THAT sending? I am just waiting for the day that chicks start filing Title IX complaints in the club. ugh. I’m done with it.

  100. Ads December 18, 2018 @ 10:58 pm

    Interesting article, and I can certainly see why your enjoyment of the dance has diminished.

    My experience is pretty different, but that could be because I am from Australia where Bachata is only just starting to develop. I do like sensual style, but here there is a definite line over here (or at least at my studio) between sensual and sexual, and you get pulled up very quickly if you cross that line.

    Interestingly, Salsa over here seems to have a lot of the ego/hookup/party culture which you are describing, which really puts me off the dance. In fact the reason I dance Bachata is because it’s largely free of that culture.

    I do hope it stays that way as it grows over here…

  101. Dany M January 3, 2019 @ 11:11 am

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It’s good to know that I am not the only one feeling and thinking that, even though my dancing experience is not of long history.
    Maybe the women who think alike can make a difference?!
    Hi from Munich, Germany

  102. Nick February 7, 2019 @ 5:14 pm

    Aww, poor white girl. Goes to clubs expecting “traditional” bachata knowing full well what’s shes getting herself into. Only to come online after doing it several times to complain about “evil” men who basically raped her in her fragile, feminist mind. Stay home in your safe space sweetie. It’s much safer and you dont have to worry about these men “raping” you with their eyes.

  103. Tim cubano March 16, 2019 @ 8:37 am

    Well….. where do I begin… firstly I really did read all the comments attached to this “blog”… I guess I will star with saying thank you, because you really opened my eyes to the arrogance in this side of the world… now before your attack plz listen… I hope the works finds a better place for itself and some peace, I feel I can say this openly and I want to STRESS I mean no offence to anyone or any culture or any faith, it’s just my opinion I’m sharing… I’m East Indian/cuban/Italian/South African/ Canadian… so having shared that I’m really tired of hearing ba for “todays time” listen there is change with the times and there is fucking tradition… bachata is a sensual dance and expressed with much more… I’m and it has never waivered not less sexual and not more sexual… and among my other cultures I truly believe I can speak somewhat on this… I’m always for women and I love my mom and sister and my wife and I don’t agree with everything going back n right now in this world, more specific it’s disgusting, but what upsets me most is women jumping on the band wagon for women’s rights… I’m right there beside you and I will fight along side u and with you, but social media and media has mad you all dumb as fuck… pick up a book or travel… the western works is so backwards and so behind of the other side of the world… I mean no disrespect to anyone or anyone’s situation… but in general this bullshit is what is bring us back 400 years everyone grow up and shut up

    Thank you

  104. Lou April 4, 2019 @ 12:16 am

    I’m Dominican and after landing on this article I couldn’t believe what I was reading. So I had to look up what sensual bachata is and I understand now. That’s not bachata I don’t know what the hell that is. It’s liked they morphed grinding. Salsa and bachata together. The only reason you might think it’s bachata because of the underlining drum beat. I hope people in Europe and North America don’t look down on Dominicans and our bachata because I have no idea what I just watched online.

  105. Gabrial July 24, 2019 @ 12:42 pm

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Dance is an art & can be a way to stay fit for people of all ages, shapes and sizes. It improves our heart condition & increases flexibility.

  106. Dave July 29, 2019 @ 6:05 pm

    This is the most elitist garbage ever. Especially the disparaging part about all the influx of “beginners.” Sorry not everyone is an expert

  107. Mark August 1, 2019 @ 9:11 pm

    Your right. Instructors , Johnny come lately, sell the sex aspect. It’s totally duscusting to watch as the women dancers are converted to sluts by average social dancing men not really interested in the actual dance.

  108. George August 3, 2019 @ 3:22 am

    Am kinda late to the party, but here’s a question: what constitutes as ‘conservative’ Bachata? My Latin social dances are kinda rusty (danced Ballroom for most of my life, not to mention I’m east-European and we’re kinda lagging in the Latin dance community department), so I am not exactly sure what Bachata is supposed to be. Ok, I suppose I can recognize what ‘sensual’ Bachata is, and apparently, it’s what we’re taught in most (if not all) schools here, but ‘conservative’?
    As to how and why ‘sensual’ became so popular, well, it’s the internet fault, of course. A lot of people see Bachata videos where a girl with a big rump, wearing tight jeans or yoga-pants “shakes dat ass” – you wouldn’t believe how many videos I’ve seen circulating all over social media websites titled “A dance as beautiful as a dream!” (or some similar pseudo-poetic bs), where the couple does relatively simple moves – and they immediately want to do it too, want to become part of the cool-kids’ crowd, regardless of whether the girl does any real dancing or if they have the faintest idea of dance-floor etiquette; they just want to be sexy and/ or get laid easier. Not that it’s a bad thing in itself, just that there’s more to dancing than just this, right? Right? Heck, I’m not even sure really. Historically, dances ranged from a religious practice to an easy way to find a mate for sex (sometimes, both these functions at the same time), so who’s to say that what the ‘sensual’ crowd is doing is wrong?
    My advice? Find a partner (or partners) who you know are your type. Easiest way to do it is to just watch how someone dances, before actually getting out onto the dance-floor.
    Another thing, I haven’t really heard of this rule that it’s impolite to refuse when invited to dance – since when? People are different, situations are different, politeness has little to do with this. And of course, etiquette in different dance scenes is different. For example, I once watched a documentary on Argentine Tango, and it was said there that men, in order to no lose face when rejected an invitation to dance, have developed a kind of eye language that they use to communicate with a potential partner from across the room (in Tango dance halls there, men and women apparently sit on different sides of the dance floor): the man gives a few looks at the woman he’d like to dance with, and if she gives him a positive sign, he approaches and invites her to dance, if she doesn’t, he shoots glances at a different woman. Sounds kinda silly, but it is what it is.

  109. Jake August 6, 2019 @ 4:38 am

    I have been attracted to Latin music and dance for a long time. I will admit, it was the raw sensuality that is interwoven in both music and dance that initially drew me in. But it is the emotional beauty, the intimate fluidity of two people moving together as one in a way that is unique to Latin dance that has kept me hooked. My wife and I have long talked about learning to dance together…just for fun. Out of all the dances I have observed, Latin dances, particularly the bachata, salsa, and similar styles would be where I would want to spend my time if we did, and my wife agrees. The sensuality and intimacy is enticing and attractive, but only in so far as both partners are equally invested in the dance. That is what I want to learn, and share with my wife through Latin dance…and to be able to take pleasure in helping her to look and feel like the beautiful, sensual woman she is.

  110. Dominican Guy October 22, 2019 @ 3:45 pm

    This whole assessment seems to be coming from someone that is not remotely familiar with Dominican culture or why partying and dancing makes up so much of our heritage. Do you even understand the lyrics to what you are dancing your studio moves to? I’d be surprised if you do. We are very sexual and not prudes, sorry if you can’t handle it but maybe you are better off dancing something else.

  111. Juan October 22, 2019 @ 7:12 pm

    Any dancer, in any genre (especially instructors) not prioritizing consent above all things, are the problem.

    Any dancer, in any genre (especially instructors) that prioritize consent above all things, are the solution.

    The End.

    PS: I was once the first and I am focused NOW on being the second and teaching others how to be the second. Thank you to all the people I have danced with that have shown me why this is so important. Including you, Stefani. I’m super grateful. =)

  112. Tony October 22, 2019 @ 8:45 pm

    Great Article. I totally agree with everything you say in this article. The fact is that it has gotten out of hand. I’ve been teaching over 20 years and believe me, the whole dance scene has changed.. and your article covers a lot of those changes …

  113. Gigi October 22, 2019 @ 9:38 pm

    I’ve NEVER been kissed on the lips! I’m an attractive woman in my mid 20’s, and have danced weekly for almost 2 years in California with people of all ages and all levels. Learn how to set boundaries?! Yikes! :/

    Maybe dancers in my area are just more respectful? I’ve only had to tell a handful of people off.

    You made a lot of good points in the article. **But the provocative picture at the start comes off as hypocritical and gives the piece a less credible tone.**

    Good luck!

  114. Gian October 23, 2019 @ 12:17 pm

    I agree with a lot of your points in the article. I have not seen too many ppl get kissed on the lips like you mentioned (I think that’s very dramatic) but that’s besides the point. The dance has been transformed into a sexual movement more than anything; I have been dancing for over 15 years, before Bachata turned out into a contemporary dance with Bachata beats. I do have to say that ppl only go as far as you let them go as well, specially on socials. I believe nowdays anyone can be an instructor or be on a performance team without even knowing really how to be a good leader and this just fuels individuals ego and pride and they teach the same way to others without knowing really the basics.

  115. Doug December 8, 2019 @ 4:24 pm

    I am an avid dancer – Argentine Tango (both close embrace as well as “nuevo”), Lindy Hop, Balboa, Cajun, NC 2-step, and occasionally rhumba and salsa. My regular partner and I dance to any & all music – especially live music – with one, or often a fusion, of these dances. I continue to be on the lookout for other dances which we can explore. Periodically I check out bachata, but so far have not bothered to dance it because the youtube videos frequently make it look a bit like foreplay, or even sex on the dance floor. I have a partner. I don’t need, or want, random sensual encounters. Your post captures why bachata remains on my “nope, not that one” list.

  116. Jessy February 10, 2020 @ 1:53 pm

    Good article, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’ve just discovered your blog and I’m sad to see there haven’t been any new updates in a long time! I’m hoping for a comeback sometime soon? 🙂

    I’m relatively new to dance, I’ve been dancing salsa and bachata for less than a year. I like salsa, but bachata was love at first sight (dance). However, I’m kind of losing the enthusiasm with the rise of sensual bachata. I understand dance is an ever-evolving thing and that there will be always new styles, but unfortunately with the growing popularity of one style (sensual bachata in this case) one has less options for practicing the other styles (traditional Dominican bachata in this case). In my dance school, on a request of some students we have now started focusing on sensual bachata. Pretty much all bachata dance parties are sensual. Given that I live in a small town, this means that practically now I have no possibility to learn and/or practice “normal” bachata.

    I like to watch dance videos online and even there it’s obvious that sensual is where it’s at right now. Popular dance couples’s videos (such as Daniel & Desirée’s and Kike & Nahir’s) to me look more like exorcism than bachata. However, thankfully there are some who practice “Dominican bachata” (traditional bachata?) – my new faves are Anthony and Carla, they radiate pure joy (if anyone knows of more couples, please give suggestions!). I also like Ataca & Alemana, I think they’re a good mix between traditional and sensual.

    It’s not that sensual bachata makes me uncomfortable – although it does sometimes. It’s just that I find it boring compared to “traditional” bachata. That one is, for me, more fun and playful. I feel like there is more focus on footwork, which makes it way more interesting (and challenging).

  117. PG February 22, 2020 @ 4:47 pm

    Agree with the sentiment of your piece. Alas, my girlfriend and I see things differently about this sensual dance thing – this bachata and kizomba stuff:
    🕺🏾 I want to dance sensual dance only with my girlfriend. For me, it’s a romantic and moral matter. 
💃 She doesn’t mind who she dances sensual dance with – and even if she did sensual dance with me, she would still want to do sensual dance with other men.

    What I refer to as “moral” are what you captured in the points about sexualization, objectification, lack of boundaries & taking of sexual liberties, and those other aspects which I feel are not conducive to a good and honest and straight relationship. Fine – people in relationships disagree, maybe decide to move on etc, but it’s a shame that such an artificial confection can derail a real natural relationship.

  118. Sebastián May 2, 2020 @ 11:50 pm

    Thanks for this article. I look forward to reading more on this site.

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