By Claudia Morales
Concert Producer, Music Division
The Library of Congress is joining the Bachata dance craze and is hosting a free bachata class for all levels. On Thursday, August 3, professional dancer, choreographer, and studio owner Julissa Cruz will team up with DJ Hercules to lead a fantastic Bachata night. The class will take place outdoors by the Southeast lawn of the Thomas Jefferson Building at 7 p.m. Dancers of all ages are welcome to come and share the joy of dancing in community.
If you are curious to learn more about this music, here is some background information. Bachata music was originally created in the Dominican Republic and later spread to other Caribbean, Central American, and, much later, South American countries. Growing up in Perú, I was not familiar with Bachata until the early ’90s when the Dominican Juan Luis Guerra and the 4:40 released their popular songs “Burbujas de Amor” and “Bachata Rosa.” Even though I was a young kid then, I vividly remember the musical explosion. The radio played his music all day long and soon we all became fans of this new-to-us Bachata rhythm. Years later, I realized that Guerra’s Bachata differed from the traditional style. And perhaps it was his sophisticated sound that made it more appealing to broader markets contributing to its worldwide success. Before Guerra, there were other Dominican exponents such as Bienvenido Fabián, José Manuel Calderon, Luis Segura, who also helped popularize this contagious rhythm. Together, these artists set the stage for contemporary Bachateros like Zacarías Ferreíra, Aventura, Romeo Santos, Monchy & Alexandra, Prince Royce, among others.
Bachata didn’t always enjoy the widespread acceptance and popularity as it does today. From its creation in the ’60s to the ’80s, Bachata was considered music for low-brow people in the Dominican Republic. It was restricted to the rural areas and only played on one radio station, “La Guarachita.” However, over the years, with the immigration of Dominicans to New York City and with international exponents like Juan Luis Guerra, Bachata became more and more accepted. In New York City, proud Dominicans would blast their Bachata music on loudspeakers, and they would form long lines to buy tickets to Bachata touring artists.
Nowadays, Bachata dance is a worldwide phenomenon with different styles such as traditional Bachata, which is a fast-paced rhythm focusing on footwork and hip movement. Sensual Bachata involves dancing closely with a partner and has undulant movement and disassociation. Modern Bachata has a salsa influence with twirls and direction changes. And finally, we have the fusion Bachata that mixes all the other styles.
Bachata means “good time,” and this dance is for everyone. Whether you are a seasoned Bachata dancer or just starting out, this class is perfect for you and your friends. Come and share your love for dancing with other enthusiasts.
If you are a fan of Bachata or Latin dance music, consider nominating your favorite recordings for the National Recording Registry.