Bachata Sensual as a social dance

I sometimes get so frustrated learning Bachata Sensual that I am wondering if it really is a genuine social dance. I wish the dance well, I am struggling hard to learn it, and have been doing so for quite some time.

If learning Bachata is to be a nice experience, it helps a lot to understand how it is different to learn compared to other social dances. The learning curves are different, and some dance styles are much more difficult to lead at a given level, or requires much more of the Follow to work.

1 Almost a rehearsed dance

There are many impressive Bachata Sensual videos around, and my instructors in class and workshops dance quite well. But the dancers are often partners, or they know one another, having been schooled for a long time in the same local dance community.

This is true for any social dance. But if we set up a scale for lead-ability, to what extent a Lead can make an average Follow on same level dance in a certain way, she doesn’t know in advance, Bachata Sensual scores in the very low end among the social dances.

A lot of what I see in workshops and masterclasses look if not as a choreographed dance, then at least as a rehearsed dance or as a dance that will not work at all if the Lead dances with the average dancer in the room before she has actually seen and rehearsed the combination.

2 Beginners and improvers

Bachata Sensual works like most other dance styles at Beginner and Improver level. Everything you learn in class as a Lead, you can use immediately in social dancing. Not only with your class Follows but with any Follow, even with beginners only knowing basic steps.

3 Intermediate level

At intermediate level there is a watershed of change and challenges. The disparity between what you learn in class and what you can use in social dancing is mind blowing. You are likely to become rather frustrated when you go social dancing, at least for a while.

Almost everything you learn at intermediate level is impossible to do with the average Follow on Beginner and Improver level. Body rolls, head rolls, dips, hand tosses, arm swings, push turns, slides, break turns, and changing direction and positions.

And it is even worse. All what I have mentioned doesn’t even work with the average Follow at intermediate level unless she has actually learned the exact same thing in class or workshop.

4 Salsa as contrast

In Cuban Salsa, a Lead should as a general rule adjust his level to the Follow to make her not just survive the dance but with grace and elegance. But a good average Lead can make most of the advanced stuff he knows well work in an acceptable manner with any Follow at any level. If he decides to do so, and the music is not too fast.

It is the opposite in Bachata Sensual. Even when I have danced with the Follow before, even when she is a class mate, even when she is an average advanced level, I must play it extremely safe and conservative to avoid disaster in social dancing.

5 Follow-up

Read my new blog post: Bachata Sensual: I have arrived!


  • You didn’t even explain why you think Bachata Sensual isn’t good for social dancing. Is it because follows need to actually know how to isolate their bodies? What techniques do you know for leading body movements, for example? Do you use weight shifts, the famous breathing and opposite energy creation concepts? Those techniques are for the lead and work on every level of dancer I’ve tried it. If you have the time to learn the Bachata Sensual technique by world-famous Korke and Judith it might help you appreciate the dance better.

    • I do like Bachata Sensual as a social dance, my blogpost is more about my frustrations at applying what I have learned in class to social dancing. I go social dancing 1-2 times a week, and do classes, workshops and Practica 1-2-3 times a week, so I better like it with all that effort.

      But it is frustrating that most of what I learn is unrealistic on the dance floor unless the Follows are very talented or at advanced level, or have by chance learned more or less the same in classes and workshops.

      The good news is that I am much less frustrated today, because I have finally developed quite a repertoire of moves and combinations that work also with Follows at intermediate level, and I have become much better at judging what to use and what not to use with the specific Follow at hand.

      Also I now know from experience what many of the Follows I dance with know, that is, many of my dances are semi-choreographed in the sense that I know the Follow knows what I want her to do. That is, my number of successful dances an evening has grown quite a lot.

      My biggest remaining problem is, as you allude to, and I will look up the instructors you mention, more advanced waves and body rolls. I don’t have the courage to do them in social dancing yet, unless I know I am successful. But I train hard, I am not among the fastest, it is only a question of a little bit more time.

      Thanks for your comment.

  • Cool! If you want to learn the best dance moves and be the best dancer, take a lesson now at Arthur Murray Dance Center

  • Pingback: Bachata Sensual: I have arrived! |

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