Leading Bachata steps, does it always have to be on the beat?

Questions

So I’m watching Bachata demos/socials/tutorials and I’m noticing by and large a majority dance on the beat (aka 1,2,3,4,5,6)

What I’m wanting to know is how often people play with the rhythms in a song, using alternate beats, dropping beats or using syncopations in the dance? Is this common or acceptable?

Also I’m not seeing many people dance to the melodic structures in music, is this a thing in bachata or will I get in trouble if I attempt it in a social setting?

Answers

User hatzfeld   

For many people learning bachata, rythm can take time to understand. Sometimes people will need months or years to know when is the “1”, to stay on beat, etc.

If you’re at ease with the music, you can play with it. In various videos you can see that dancers are using the syncopations sometimes (replacing 5-6-7 with 5-and-6-7-8 or 5-7-and-8), or using slower beats in sensual parts. You can also play with the melody and try to show your partner how you feel the music. It’s great!

Examples of dances where the 1-2-3 5-6-7 is not the only beat used:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YYXuF_Lj4uc


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7Euf7dt3P0

However, it’s good to remember that everybody does not have the same level, and I think it is better to favor the connection with your partner over the complexity of your musicality interpretation.

User hatzfeld   

With time we learn to lead and follow lightly, and we can transmit much more information than at the beginning. Patterns that look like choreo can actually be led with the right cues (better connection, breathing, etc.).

Praticing other dances help.

Other times it works because people know each other very well, and the did the same workshop so it’s not really led.

And when the follow has no clue, she will just do something else. It’s good to have these moves that won’t disturb too much a less experienced follow.

User teeecue

If you’re a good lead dancing with a good follow, your follow will always know what to do even when you improvise. In fact, from a follow’s perspective, the best leads are the ones who can make us do things we didn’t even know we could do.

Bachata is danced on the beat, so that should be the default. Every now and then you can play with other stuff, but keep it to a minimum and make sure it’s only done when the music calls for it. Otherwise you’re going to confuse and irritate your partner.

User DeanXeL  

As long as you don’t plan on dancing the entire song on 2, you should be fine.
You might find people who dance a lot of traditional bachata that say that the count doesn’t matter AT ALL (I’ve known 2 or 3 such people), but in most modern dance settings this is not the way of the land.

So use the baseline (ooooone….-andthree-four) to slow it down a little, use the guira (the metallic scratchy sound for those who don’t know, the cheese grater) when in goes into majao rhythm (accent on the count instead of count AND syncopation) to give clear, more powerful moments (tak-tak-tak-TAK). Use the requinto guitar and its’ melody to in other parts to go a bit faster or slower.

And hey, if you know a break in the music is coming, use it!

Personally, I always dance on 1 (weight to left foot) and 5 (weight to right foot), except when it’s a superslow sensual song that asks for more body movement.

User goatplantation  

For sure. You can disconnect from the 1,2,3,4 5,6,7,8 and just dance on the rhythm that you hear. But to re-iterate what someone already said, you don’t really dance on 2.

So after you do your musicality stuff, get back to 1. Don’t end up dancing on 2 or 3.

User Acquilas

I don’t really see anyone dancing dancing on 2 for example, like in Salsa when you have salsa on 2. But you can always play with your timings and follow the bass line which has more of a duh-duhduh-duh duh-duhduh-duh. If you listen to a good bachata song you can clearly hear the bassline and you can follow that.

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