It is often that students ask me about etiquette on the dance floor, and most importantly, I’ve been asked if there is an etiquette in Bachata (as Bachata has a closer position and connection compared to other rhythms).
Whilst there are many points of advice in this area, here’s a list of the top 5 etiquette rules for leaders and followers:
1. Keep a comfortable closeness (or distance) with your partner.
This is the rule number one. Most of the time, Bachata calls for dancing close, connecting with your partner. Sometimes, the guys forget that the girls might have a boyfriend or husband watching her dance, so getting too close with the legs wrapped around will not be a nice spectacle at all.
2. Look after your hygiene.
Remember the following letters S.B.S (sweat, breath and smell)
- Check your SWEAT – have a little towel available or additional shirts to change in.
- Check your BREATH – have a drink of water or some chewing gum.
- Check your SMELL – quickly put deodorant or go outside for fresh air.
3. Focus solely on your dance partner, rather than on the person you want to be dancing with next.
There is nothing worse than dancing with someone that is trying to showoff, rather than focus on dancing with you. By nature, Bachata dancing is not made for showing off, as it doesn’t have many multiple spins, complex combinations or fancy show moves. The couples that really shine on the dance floor are the ones that connect with each other and the music (refer to point 4).
4. Listen to the music and dance with the music.
There is a vast variety of Bachata music out there, ranging from Traditional Dominican Style to Urban Latin Bachata. The music will tell you how to dance the song and where the breaks are. I’ve seen dancers that just learned a new Dominican footwork trying to use it on a smooth Urban Bachata; and vice versa, I’ve seen dancers doing intricate combinations on Dominican songs that call for footwork and free expression. As my previous article, think of Bachata as wine… there are red, white and rose wines that are perfect for specific occasions – same goes with Bachata.
5. Respect the level of your dance partner.
There will always be beginners and advanced dancers on the dance floor. For the advanced dancers we have to remember that we were beginners at one point, and how frightful it was to ask an advanced dancer for a dance. Instead of focusing on showing off or proving that you are an advanced dancer (as stated on point 3), focus on enjoying the dance and leaving the dance floor with a smile. This way, it is more likely that the two of you will dance again.
The above points are only part of the overall Bachata etiquette on the dance floor, but if we follow them, we will ensure that our Bachata dancing is enjoyable and fun.
I’m sure there are other points that should be noted, as each one of us have had different experience on the dance floor. Please do share them in the comments section below.
Written by Juan Ruiz – Director of Bachateros Online Magazine, Sydney Bachata Festival and pioneer of the Bachata Moderna movement.