When I first heard bachata at a salsa club a couple of years ago, I was puzzled. Salsa DJs regularly slipped salsa’s tropical cousins cha cha and merengue into the mix, but this Dominican sound was something I’d never heard before. I quickly scooted off the floor when a bachata song came on because I had no idea how to dance it. Also, it seemed slow and a bit boring to me in comparison to the lightening-fast twists and turns set to salsa’s rapid conga beats. Bachata was merely a bathroom break.
But I couldn’t ignore it for long. Soon enough, I gave into bachata’s slower, smoother charms. I never took a class, but it was easy to fake the dance with a strong leader. I naturally fell into the rhythm of “step 1, 2, 3″ and copied the little “hip pop” I saw other dancers doing on the count of 4. With the basics down, I no longer evacuated the dance floor when bachata came on, but I still didn’t quite get the appeal.
Two years later, bachata is a tour de force on Los Angeles’ Latin dance scene, with its own dedicated night at The Granada in Alhambra and Stevens Steakhouse in Commerce. I immersed myself in the Thursday bachata night at The Granada a couple of weeks ago to write the “Boogie Nights” piece that appeared in today’s Los Angeles Times, and I was blown away by the passionate dancing I witnessed. Most impressive were the young dancers who are making bachata their own by cross-pollinating it with hip-hop. The fancy footwork and fluid body action that results are truly stunning. I can only hope to replicate an iota of their funk and flava! This is one salsera who has been won over by bachata, and I’m definitely not alone… Read more in the Los Angeles Times piece.