Spanish guitar motives are used in a variety of musical genres. Bachata is one of the most popular traditional dance and music styles that originated in the Dominican Republic in the 1960s. The first Dominican bachatas were recorded in the Dominican Republic’s countryside shortly after Trujillo's (the country’s dictator for 31 years) assassination. More specifically, “Borracho de amor” is generally recognized to be the first bachata single, which was recorded by José Manuel Calderón in 1962 (José Manuel Calderón | iASO Records).
"The bachata music genre... was disregarded by Dominican elite for a long time; it was even banned in public places like discos and the radio."
The genre was influenced by the Cuban bolero and by more African elements coming from Son and the Latin American troubadour singing tradition. The bachata music genre took shape over a forty-year period in Santo Domingo's bars and brothels, and was disregarded by Dominican elite for a long time; it was even banned in public places like discos and the radio. That was because certain groups of less fortunate people found solace through this music style, by expressing the various inevitable injustices they faced (Hernandez 58).
"Bachata's lyrics reflect social aspects of life and convey intense, visceral feelings of affection, passion, nostalgia and lost love."
Today however, bachata has surpassed even salsa and merengue as one of the most popular styles of Latin music in several Latin American dance halls. In fact, the word bachata, which is believed to be of African origin, originally referred to an informal gathering among family and friends where people played and listened to popular music, rather than a particular musical genre.
Bachata Rosa by Juan Luis Guerra.
Juan Luis Guerra is the most popular person in the entire history of bachata and is credited for taking bachata to the international stage.
In general, Bachata's lyrics reflect social aspects of life and convey intense, visceral feelings of affection, passion, nostalgia and lost love. This is why Bachata was known as “La música del amargue,” or “music of bitterness.” The Bachata dance is equally passionate. It takes two partners, staying close to each other when they move their hips, and forming a square with their feet. These deep feelings would be played by a typical bachata group in 4/4 timing formed of a requinto (lead guitar), a segunda (rhythm guitar), an electric bass guitar, bongos, and güira (What is Bachata? | Incognito Dance).
The most popular person in the entire history of the music genre is Juan Luis Guerra, who is credited for taking bachata to the international stage with his album Bachata Rosa, after winning a Grammy in 1992. Guerra managed to change people’s attitudes towards the style of bachata as it became popular even among the wealthy and well-educated (Stavans 77). Aventura, Raul Rodriguez, Frank Reyes, Anthony Santos, and Luis Vargas are some other well-known bachata artists. Thankfully, Bachata continues to thrive in DR and was even inscribed in UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2019 (World Music Central.org, 2019).
There is no denying bachata is a core aspect of the Dominican Republic’s culture. To honor and spread the word about this beautiful dance style, our Latino brand, KeCaché, has launched a line of Bachata Dominican shirts, a cool fit for anyone who wants to show their love and appreciation, as well as support our Dominican brand. You can’t go wrong with it; wear these with your friends and/or family and hit the Bachata dance floor!
Hernandez, Deborah Pacini. Bachata: A Social History of a Dominican Popular Music. Temple University Press, 1995.
Iasorecords.com. 2021. José Manuel Calderón | iASO Records. [online] Available at: <https://www.iasorecords.com/artists/jos-manuel-calder-n> [Accessed 25 April 2021].
Incognito Dance | Incognito Dance. What is Bachata? | Incognito Dance. [online] Available at: <https://www.incognitodance.com/what-is-bachata/>
Stavans, Ilan, editor. Latin Music: Musicians, Genres, and Themes. Greenwood, 2014.
World Music Central.org 2019. [online] Available at: <https://worldmusiccentral.org/2019/12/13/dominican-bachata-inscribed-in-the-representative-list-of-intangible-cultural-heritage-of-humanity/>