Firstly, we need to define what a Bachatero is. Is it a person who dances Bachata? Listens to or creates Bachata music? Someone who is involved in the Bachata community or a person who lives Bachata as a way of life?
It is interesting to note, that on the subject research I have done on this word, it happens to match each of these.
It’s hard to pin down an actual meaning to the word ‘Bachatero,’ it can mean so many things. One very general statement being: ‘Someone who performs Bachata.’
A person who creates, sings or plays Bachata is obviously a Bachatero. And yet one that can dance Bachata must understand the direction the lyrics or melody takes in order for them to be a personal representation of the music thus creating a physical form of Bachata for people to see as well as hear.
Let us not forget the admirer of Bachata. The quiet man or woman that sits in the corner of the club and says nothing, instead they observe the interaction of the dancers as they partner up and do nothing but nod their head and tap their finger on the table. Is it safe to assume that they have a certain involvement in the creation and appreciation of Bachata? ‘Are they a Bachatero?’
We come to the observation of the Bachata community. In comparison to the Latin dance & Salsa scene, most Bachateros will not determine a right or wrong way to dance Bachata or what a proper Bachata song is. Truth is there is no wrong way. If you look at the evolution of Bachata from it’s rudimentary past to the modern form it’s taken today, you can’t expect it to do anything but progress, develop and take on new shapes. Bachateros are not as open to the politics that you see in most Latin dance groups. They are open more to each others ideas and musical interpretation. This sets them apart from the other communities.
Essentially, no one can be put into categories such as I have described. These are just a few questions I’ve found myself asking. In my mind, anyone who has had the fortunate opportunity to come across this influential music and have had their lives somehow affected is a Bachatero. You can make anything you come into contact with a way of life. Why not Bachata? So let me ask you…. ‘Are you a Bachatero?’
This article was written by Jen Howarth – chief editor of the Bachateros Online Magazine. You can find Jen at Latin Motion or dancing at various venues in Sydney.