THE DEATH OF DOMINICAN BACHATA?

In part 1 I talked about the possibility of the Dominican government banning the Bachata Sensual by means of a lawsuit. You can read that here. https://www.supersalsa.nl/2019/12/13/dominican-bachata-immaterial-cultural-heritage-vs-bachata-sensual/

And now: What interest do the Dominicans have in protecting the popular Dominican way of dancing Bachata? Is there more to this?

DEAD DANCE STYLES

I recently interviewed Francisco Vazquez, the inventor of LA Style Salsa on1. I did this as part of his promotion for the Holland Salsa Bachata Fest 2020. Francisco was totally lyrical about the ‘Curaçao Style Salsa’ that he discovered here in the Netherlands in the early ’00s. He explains that this way of salsa dancing is actually our ‘roots’. And that I shouldn’t forget that. See for yourself from 14.32 minutes:

Intervieuw with Francisco Vazquez promoting the Holland Salsa Bachata Fest 2020

But ‘Curaçao Stijl Salsa’ – what we here in the Netherlands also refer to as ‘Salsa Rechts Voor’ – is virtually extinct in 2019. Anyway, it is no longer the dominant salsa style here in the Netherlands. Not even on Curacao where it originated! After the introduction of the LA Style Salsa on1 and the New York Mambo on2 in the Netherlands (by Annetje Riel and Marlon Castillo from 1998) it went quickly downhill with the Curaçao Style Salsa.

Besides that you also had what I affectionately call ‘Zouk Salsa’. This dance style conceived by Claudio Gomes is actually an amalgamation of Cuban/Antillian Style Salsa with dance movements from the Brazilian Lambada and Zouk! See here the 1st Dutch salsa dance instruction video from Zouk Salsa!

Claudio Gomes and the Netherlands’ first Salsa Dance Instructional Video ‘Zouk Salsa’

The following video clip is a short summary of the 1st Open Salsa Dance Competition, held in Zandvoort (1995). In it you can see the various dominant salsa dance styles in the Netherlands: Curaçao Style Salsa and ‘Zouk Salsa’ by Claudio Gomes:

1st Dutch Open Salsa Dance Championships 1995

Besides that you also see a bit of Merengue Showdancing during that contest. Merengue show also slowly died out in the Netherlands in the 90’s. Euro Latinos D.C. – the first semi professional Afro Latin show team of the Netherlands – was one of the last groups to dance Merengue. See here a video with a long show with Salsa Rechts Voor and Merengue Showdansen by Euro Latinos D.C.:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioeZ9ZmN56I.

Why are these dance styles (almost) extinct?

Because most of us (me too!) were completely captured by the newly introduced (Western orientated) dance styles,
because we didn’t pass on the dance to the next generations, and
because these original dance styles were only a small part of the rainbow of dance styles that already existed such as folkloric dances and other Caribbean and Latin American dance forms.

But the Dominican Bachata has been immensely popular in the Dominican Republic and beyond for years. Her popularity continues to grow. So why should the world protect the Dominican Bachata?

UNITE IT WITH DESTRUCTION AS A BY-PRODUCT

In 1997, the 1st World Salsa Congress was held in San Juan Puerto Rico.

That’s when many salsa dancers from all over the world came together for the first time to learn and enjoy each other. One of the most important things the organization has done is to canonize the Puerto Rican style of Salsa dancing – and especially the variant that Eddie Torres recorded (New York Style Mambo on2). This is clearly said in the following video from 0.52 minutes.

1st World Salsa Congress Puerto Rico 1997

This standard was then blindly adopted by all those present. This new style ‘salsa dancing in lines’ was then spread in the countries of origin by these salsa pioneers. Others like the great promoter Albert Torres copied this successful formula of days long dance congresses and festivals with 1 or 2 salsa styles as a theme and applied it to most continents, countries and cities. This has been the beginning of the international Afro Latin dance industry. In the process of globalization of Afro Latin dance, some of the original dance styles were lost.

Have you ever heard of Israeli Style Salsa? Edie The Salsa Freak once told me of its existence during one of her dance workshops in the early ’00s. But I’ve never seen it myself. She explained that they danced on1, but that the followers never stepped backwards on the 1. Always forwards, so to their partners. I can’t find the dance anywhere online…

Since the other Bachata dance styles worldwide are growing faster than the original Dominican Bachata, it is not surprising that the Dominicans think that their dance style is increasingly being supplanted by what they see as an ‘abomination’. And on the other hand, the Dominican Republic also has much to fear from the undiminished popularity of Reggaeton among young people. Especially the woman-unfriendly lyrics and the very explicit way of dancing are attracting more and more young people. As a result, they lose more and more interest in the traditional bachata. The same development can be seen, for example, in Cuba, where the Son is increasingly becoming a dance for the elderly and for the tourist industry on the island. International artists and DJs continue to experiment with Bachata. The bachata remixes of Pop and R&B music are gaining market share. There are now even Bachata Remix parties! See here a list of DJ Tronky’s best bachata remix music:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0Ti70q7RUw&list=PLiRjI-m5pJYeSRNBpcWidMK42Fu_LU-ej.

Conclusion: Enough reasons to protect the Dominican way of bachata dancing!

In preparation of this article, some of my friends on Facebook and I had a nice discussion. I would like to thank them for their invaluable contributions: Nadia, Yaya, Remy, Mariska, Mechteld, Roy, Romy, Nucita, Valentino, Pascal, Patrick, Froukje, Robert, Robin, Angelique, Gerald and Gilbert: https://www.facebook.com/sederick.short/posts/10157600050933211?comment_id=10157617262418211&notif_id=1577475104314500&notif_t=feedback_reaction_generic.

In my last article of this series I will propose a nice solution which the lovers of the Dominican bachata will hopefully pick up and put into practice 🙂

Thank you in advance for your reactions to this article. Please feel free to join the discussion under the last link.

Y que viva la bachata!!!