Bachata Styles Explained…A Whole Lotta Bachata

Bachata is one of the Dominican Republic’s signature dances and it’s beloved by all. To begin with, it’s romantic, sexy, and gets your blood going.  Secondly, you get to let it all hang out as you dance to its provocative rhythms unleashing your flirtatious side. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about the different Bachata styles.

Sexy Bachata Performers

Bachata styles range from friendly to super-sexy. However, one thing they have in common is the 8 count basic. Before we get started looking at some of the different interpretations of this dance, please check out Dance Safari’s post, “Learn to Dance Bachata – Start Today!“.

Traditional, aka, Bachata Dominicana or Authentic Bachata

  • In the Dominican Republic, it’s the music and dance of love and heartbreak.
  • Bolero, Rumba, and Cha Cha inspired it.
  • This is a social dance that uses compact steps taken right under the body.
  • The basic is a small square. As a matter of fact, it uses a box-like pattern that moves (leader) side/together/forward/tap, side/together/back/tap. Of course, the follower will do the natural opposite.
  • Depending on the music’s tempo, a triple step can replace the tap step.
  • Less is more for beginners. But, more advanced couples will find themselves using ‘fancy footwork’.

“Western” Style Traditional Bachata

  • People around the world fell in love with Bachata and the Western style of Bachata was born.
  • A simpler side-to-side pattern developed.
  • The music has a very strong accent on the ‘1’ with a more subdued accent on the ‘5’.
  • This style uses a closer dance hold and softer hip action.

Bachata Moderna

  • Bachata Moderna resulted as turns and spins from Salsa found their way into the Western style.
  • Moderna is a fusion of other dances such as Salsa, Tango, Hip Hop, Zouk, and Ballroom.
  • This is a romantic style with dips and kicks from Tango, as well as, some graceful turns and lines from Ballroom.
  • Unquestionably, two of America’s finest Moderna teachers/performers are Ataca and Alemana.

Bachata Sensual

  • Created by Korke and Judith in Cadiz, Spain more than ten years ago, Bachata Sensual is very popular.
  • It’s no surprise that the style called “Bachata Sensual” is steamy and hot.
  • Because it’s a theatrical style, it uses lifts, drops, dips, and isolations.
  • Also, expect to see body rolls and waves.
  • Although some other Bachata styles are danced in a slot, Sensual steps rotate.

Now that you know about the different styles, it’s time to find a teacher. Certainly, you can start at any ballroom dance studio that’s convenient to you. In all likelihood, you’ll begin with the Western-style that’s popular throughout the world.

When you go to Latin clubs, you’ll meet others with a passion for Bachata. Talk to people, find out how they learned. In fact, some will say they picked it up by just getting out there. Others might recommend an instructor, workshop, or online course. The important thing is, if this style of dancing and music moves you, go ahead and get into it. Release that inner, sexy beast!

whole lotta bachata


  1. The videos you’ve highlighted, Barbara, scared me silly. If I ever looked ‘that’ sexy I’m sure I’d scare myself..!!!
    I don’t think, however, I ever have to worry – I’m sure my hips could never do that… lol… 🙂

    • Wild, isn’t it Carolyn. The control of the body that’s demonstrated at the higher levels of this dance is truly amazing. That doesn’t stop us from enjoying the music while dancing the Western style. By the way, it’s sometimes referred to as the International style. Feel free to get on it!

    • Good question. A body roll is a smooth, fluid action that usually begins with the head. Some say you would imagine taking your body through a hoop. It goes head, shoulders, torso, and hips. It can be repeated or followed by an upward roll by reversing the sequence, meaning hips, torso, shoulders, and head. It’s not very complicated but it takes a bunch of practice to get it down smoothly. Check out this YouTube video with body roll tips –

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