Written by our guest contributor Art Williams.

I learn new things all the time and today I learned something I didn’t know about Bachata.  Today I Googled ‘history of Bachata’.

I already knew that in its early days Bachata was an underground music in the Dominican Republic and it was born and matured in the bars and brothels of the Dominican Republic.  And I already had heard that Bachata was somehow related to certain French music forms.

One of those forms was the ‘bolero’.

Now….I don’t pretend to be an expert on exactly what Bolero is.  I do know it’s one of the competitive areas of Ballroom dancing.  That’s about all.  I discovered today however that there was a form of early Bachata referred to as ‘Bachata Boleros’.

A little bit more about my past experience with Bolero.  I’ll always remember the night at one of the social dances in Houston, where I learned to dance.  It might have been at one of Sonia’s Salsa Socials.  Anyway, I was there and I was dancing with a gal named Sharon.  Sharon was originally from Mexico so she had perhaps some background in Latin music that I didn’t.

We were dancing to something that I liked and I just assumed it was some sort of Bachata.  But it sounded somehow different.  Rather than the 1-2-3-tap that most of us ‘gringos’ do to Bachata, this music had a different ‘feel’…, more of a long-short-short or half, quarter, quarter (in music notation).  I commented on it and Sharon said, “Oh…, it’s Bolero.”

Point is, I learned tonight that the Bachata of today is related to the original Bachata of 40+ years ago in the Dominican Republic much in the same way that the rock and roll music of today is related to the old, original ‘Blues’ music that the freed African slaves used to sing.  And one of those early, more sedate forms of Bachata was known as ‘Bachata-bolero’.  They don’t sound much alike but there is a connection.

I’m going to give you a URL here where you’ll be able to hear some of the older styles of Bachata.  And what you might notice, as I did, is that some of that this particular old tune has a drippy, romantic, almost cheesy flavor (compared to the more modern Bachata) very similar to the old American “Doo-Wup” music of the 50’s and 60’s.

(Note:  If you don’t know what Doo-Wup music is, go to www.tropicalglen.com. They’ve got a complete channel for it.  It’s actually kinda nice too)

I actually do prefer the smoother, more romantic Bachata.  I’ve got a  DVD on Bachata Dominicana but I guess I just haven’t applied myself much to learning it.  Somehow, me personally, it just doesn’t turn me on.  I just know what appeals to me and that’s what I do.  (Bachatango, now that’s something I really am interested in but they don’t have any idea what that is here in Manila.)

I picked up several more interesting perspectives about the history of Bachata tonight and I’ll be writing more later, but I guess the most interesting thing I wanted to share in this article was the analogy between traditional American ‘Blues’ and today’s rock and roll.

The connection between those two eras of the same kind of music is very similar to the relation between original Bachata of the Dominican Republic as heard in guys like Jose Manuel Calderon (who supposedly recorded the first Bachata ‘single’ called “Borracho de Amor” and “Que Sera de mi Condena”) and the modern  Bachata supergroups like Aventura.

Here’s the Calderon Wiki page.  Not a whole lot here but it’s still kinda interesting.  Down below you can listen to a video with one of his early songs.

Just like there’s very little obvious similarity between John Lee Hooker and Stevie Rae Vaughn, there’s also very little similarity between Jose Manuel Calderon and Aventura.  But, as I have discovered, there is a connection that I think is interesting and will be writing more about later.

Written by Art Williams. Art is a true Bachata and Latin dancing fan. In his blog, Wandering Salsero, Art has written many articles in regards to Latin Dancing, but most commonly in Bachata.