The History of Bachata Dance and Music
For many of us who are not Latin dance experts, the recent emergence of bachata as a popular dance craze may have come as something of a surprise. If you’re one of these people who feels like bachata came out of nowhere, you shouldn’t feel ashamed. Instead, use it as an opportunity to educate yourself! As it turns out, the history of bachata dance and music is rich and stretches back far into the past.
The roots of bachata can be traced back to the very beginning of the 20th century. During this time, bachata began its development as a style in the Dominican Republic. Early bachata was a mix of bolero music with traditional African elements, a new musical fusion and a breath of fresh air for the island. Despite this, many upper-class Dominicans looked down upon bachata, considering the style too “backwoods” and low class. Unfortunately this attitude persisted for some time, and it is considered partly responsible for bachata’s relative obscurity during much of the last century.
Another factor that contributed to bachata’s lack of popularity for some time was political. Under the rule of Rafael Trujillo, a brutal dictator who led the Dominican Republic for many years, censorship was rampant and bachata music was not recorded. After his assassination in 1961, the first bachatas were recorded but the genre still did not become a hit outside of certain segments of Dominican society.
It was in the 1980s when bachata really began to take off as a popular dance and music style. Bachata music began to appear on the radio and eventually even on television, and parts of the upper class that had looked down on bachata began to accept it as a positive aspect of Dominican culture.
Bachata continued its growth into the 1990s and 2000s and today is one of the most popular and still fastest growing Latin styles. The history of bachata dance and music was full of challenges, but bachata has emerged successfully after it all!