I’m sure you are not the first one talking about the timing issue in Bachata. The following is from a question I got from Alon Goshen, a Bachata instructor from Israel about the timing issue in Bachata.

This is the conversation we had about it… good insights for everybody…

From Allon  (28 March, 2012)

Hi Juan,

I’m writing this to you as one of the leading Bachata Instructors in the world, because here in Israel we have a small debate between the Bachata Instructors, that we were hoping that you might help settle (if there is something that most agree upon). We could really use your opinion.

This is about the Bachata count. Some of us teach 1,2,3,Hip and 1,2,3,Hip, and some teach 1,2,3,Hip and 5,6,7,Hip. Now, we all agree it’s easier to teach with 8 count, since all of the Bachata crowd also knows Salsa, and it’s easier for both Instructors and Students.

However, in Bachata, unlike Salsa, there are many moments that in some the guy will move to the left on the 1 count (with his left leg first), and many that the guy will move to the right on the 1 (with his right leg first). Take for example when the guy is standing behind the girl, who is standing with her back to the guy. Both will move to the same direction, which means that one of them will move the “wrong” leg first. Therefore, there is no leg difference between the 1 count and the 5 count, since both legs can move on both counts, depends on the dancing situation, and therefore there is no need to differ between the 2 pairs of 4 count.

I hope you understand what I’m talking about. If you instruct your students that 1 count means left leg for the men and right leg for the girls, and that the 5 count means right leg for the men and left leg for the girls, then above is an example that negates that. Same applies if as a leader, I decide to lead the girl forward on the first 4 count, and then to the left on the 2nd 4 count, making my next 4 count go to the right, and again switching legs…

So, what do you do? Do you tell your students that Bachata is on 4 count, but you teach it on 8 count for convenient? or that you believe it’s on 8 count, and if so, then how do you explain the two cases I described above?

We would really appreciate your help, as we don’t wanna teach people the wrong things…

Juan’s answer (28 March 2012)

Hey Alon,

This is a debate that I have usually at the Bachata competitions that I judge, when they want us to look for the “timing” of the dancers….

By default, Bachata is a 4/4 music. Meaning that when you count it, it will be 1,2,3,4, 1,2,3,4, etc.

For teaching purposes, we count ’till the 8th, as it is easier to say 1,2,3,4 to the right, 5,6,7,8 to the left

So, if you start dancing on the 1, you are on time. If you start dancing on the 5, you are on time as well!

This is a concept that true Bachata artists know about. Usually, Salsa dancers are used to the 8 counts, so for them, it is hard to understand the 4 count.

I can go on about it, but you get my point, and I’m sure I have answered your question


PS. This is a great question that I always get asked. I’m going to put it on the Bachateros website so people can refer to it. Thanks, Alon! Keep on dancing!

From Allon

Thank you for your answer. Do you mind if I paste it on my Facebook wall for all to see?

From Juan

Yes, go for it

From Alon

Btw, about what you said that “if you start dancing on the 1, you are on time. If you start dancing on the 5, you are on time as well”. I think that I need to make my meaning clearer.

I always start on the 1, but the different is, that I can start it with my left leg or my right leg. If on a count of 1,2,3,tap 5,6,7,tap I do Right,Left,Right,tap and Left,Right,Left,tap, I do not call it “start dancing on the 5” but rather i call it “start dancing on the 1 with your right leg”, which is a bit different, if you understand what I mean.

From Juan

It is the same, explained differently

To make it simpler:
You are on time if you star dancing with your left foot or with your right foot on the one, as long as you keep the 4 beats timing (step, step, step, tap)

From Alon

Yep, thought so. Again, thank you very much, and I hope one day to see you in Israel. I hope one day we can bring you to Israel.


Alon then sent an email to various prominent Bachata instructors whom provided great insights as well. I would leave it up to Alon to share those insights J