Learning Bachata with Santo Baile

Learning Bachata

Bachata is a form of music and dance that originated in the Dominican Republic.

I first became aware of it in 2009, when DJs at the salsa bars I frequented would play a few bachata songs between sets of salsa.

The basic steps looked easy enough, but I didn’t want to dedicate any lesson time to it, and while salsa bars often give away group salsa lessons to draw in patrons, the same can’t be said for bachata.

And without knowing how to do turns, it seemed boring compared to the salsa I was dancing at the time.

As a result, bachata songs became my cue to take a break from the dance floor and grab a glass of water.

Despite feeling like I’d never dance bachata, I continued listening to the music. It seemed like there was only one band that mattered.

Aventura was led by Romeo Santos, and their hits like Dile al Amor and Por un Segundo became instant favorites of mine, along with Prince Royce’s version of Stand By Me, which was played every night at The Salsa Room in Virginia.

With salsa, I’ve always enjoyed dancing to the faster songs, but if you want to dance bachata, you have to become comfortable going slower. Much slower.

A few months ago, I took a break from learning Cali style salsa to finally learn a little bachata.

After a few lessons, I got the basic steps down and began to feel more comfortable. The more time I devoted to bachata, the more I enjoyed it.

Juliana, my teacher, began introducing turns. Every time she’d introduce a new move, I’d laugh and wonder how I’d ever be able to remember it.

But with enough repetition during the lesson, I’d eventually get the hang of everything she showed me. The video above was taken after seven to eight hours of private bachata lessons at Santo Baile.

As much as I was enjoying the classes, I wasn’t practicing on my own, which is something I’d like to change in 2014 as I continue working to improve my bachata.

Like the story? Take a second to support Medellin Living on Patreon!



  1. i LOVE bachata – it’s my favorite. and you’ll like it too when you dance it with someone you like – it’s very sensual! that video is one of my favorites – they are from Tampa, FL. very sexy!!

    • Yes, I think bachata is like tango… better to dance with a partner you already know than a random person.

      Didn’t know that video was from Tampa. Funny, because that’s where I go for the holidays now that my parents live in the area.

    • I agree on the bachata, which is going to make it even tougher for me to practice.

      There is a small but dedicated group of salsa students and dancers that offer opportunities for social dancing. Some of my favorite nights of dancing in Medellin in 2013 were the dance parties thrown by the Baile Latino and Santo Baile dance schools. I know it’s small beans compared to Cali, but it’s something.

      Son Havana on Wednesday nights is off the hook…the best salsa dancers I’ve seen in Medellin go there that night. You’ll see some good dancing Thurs-Sat, but it’s mostly casual dancers, whereas Wednesday nights are students, teachers, and more competitive dancers.

      As my friend Jessica wrote, there’s a difference between academy dancing and club dancing. You have to adjust your expectations accordingly.

  2. Hola amigos de Medellín Living! Definitivamente, a todos nos encanta la Bachata. Los felicito por el artículo y los videos, siempre es bueno tener referencias de lugares y planes cuando te encuentras visitando o residiendo en Medellín. Si les es de utilidad, me gustaría compartirles uno de los planes que más está llamando la atención en la ciudad, se trata de las Clases de Bachata que se están dando en El Poblado. Van muchos exranjeros y también personas de la ciudad, lo que hace que se viva un ambiente excelente y se aprenda muchísimo. Sitio web: http://www.dancefree.com.co/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dancefreeco
    Saludos a todos!