Bachata vs Salsa: Which One is Meant to Better Relationships?
love, couple, holding hands

Partner dances are one of the best options to reignite the spark in your relationship, regain confidence, and stay active – all at the same time. If you are looking for partner dance courses online right now, both Bachata and Salsa are great options. However, it is natural to be intrigued by these dances and also be confused regarding which one to choose to learn to better your relationship. While they both are Latin dances, at the same time, Bachata and Salsa are very different in their overall presentation. 

You might have questions like Bachata vs Salsa, what is the difference? Which dance is easier to learn between the two? Which dance form is better? Can just anyone learn Bachata or Salsa? Here, we try to answer your questions and help you to choose between the two. 

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What is Salsa? 

To trace back the origin of Salsa is difficult. Many people believe that it started in New York back in the mid-1970s. While it is said that it is influenced by other swing dance styles, at the same time, it is also said that it roots in the earlier Latin dance styles such as Cha-Cha and Mambo. 

Just like the salsa sauce, which is prepared using different ingredients, Salsa dance also stands for a mix of various ingredients. Many people across the globe enjoy dancing this form of dance and so it is rightly considered to be the queen of Latin dances.

In Salsa, the dancers have to keep the posture straight and keep a bit of tension in their hands to keep some distance between them and their partner, thus, making one feel the lead. Salsa accompanies intricate music, is fast-paced, sharp and has exciting turns. 

What is Bachata? 

It’s easier to say where Bachata originates from. Unlike Salsa, Bachata originated in the rural neighbourhoods of Dominican Republic. The most social dance of 2020, Bachata, has undoubtedly become one of the most popular Latin dances in recent years. 

While Salsa’s steps are a bit difficult to explain, Bachata basics consist of 3 steps and a tab. You have to keep your knees bent throughout to promote hip motion. The gliding step goes ‘side-together-side-tap’. Not to forget, it can be spiced up with hip motion. Or you can spice it up with a lift of the leg at the ‘tap’ step. 

Bachata comes across like a sensual dance and it is much more intimate dance than Salsa. It gives you the freedom to let it go and listen to your partner. Your hands can be relaxed and so your dance partner will be able to move your hands freely. 

love, couple, holding hands

Bachata vs Salsa: The difference

Let us give you a clear comparison between the two dances. 

The popularity

Salsa is more popular than Bachata. The reason is that it’s here from much before. So it is generally more well-known across the world. At the same time, Bachata also is the most social dance of 2020. Bachata is being popularized a lot lately. Notably, many pubs play Bachata songs along with Salsa songs even during the Salsa nights. 

The pace 

Salsa demands quick steps, is fast-paced, and has very quick turns. Bachata, on the other hand, doesn’t. Salsa is generally faster than Bachata. Bachata is danced at a much slower pace. Being slower, Bachata also has a much more intimate feeling and overall presentation.

The basic step patterns

Simply put, Salsa is more ‘front-back’: forward and back motion, on the other hand, Bachata is more ‘side-side’: side to side motion. The steps are executed very differently. If you see both the dances performed in front of you, you can easily distinguish one from the other. 

Then why are they confused with each other, you might ask. Let us explain. Salsa has three steps where one step goes backward and the second and third step go forward. On the other hand, in Bachata there are three steps to the one side which are followed by a tapping action with the free foot, and after that, it goes to the other side repeating the exact same steps. One might confuse one for another because on paper each one utilizes three steps in their basic patterns. 

The tapping action that follows the three steps in Bachata is very noticeable when you watch the dance live. In fact, some dancers go on to accentuate the step with a circular hip lift and rotational action. And to go on with the explanation, we’d even say, the step is usually exaggerated by the female. 

woman, lovely, young

The partner closeness 

Salsa has more frame, or say space or distance between the partners. It allows a bit of a flashier and fancier arm- and footwork. Bachata, on the other hand, demands closeness. In fact, Bachata demands as much closeness at times as it comes while you are hugging.

The level of collaboration

While both the dances are performed with two partners, typically, men lead these dance forms. Both dances have flashiness for moves but Salsa’s moves tend to be flashy only on a solo basis. The larger moves are partially or fully separated. On the other hand, Bachata is more about both the partners doing the job, being in-sync, in contact and communicating non-verbally.

The level of intimacy 

You might have gotten the idea by now. Bachata is more intimate than Salsa. While in Salsa the steps matter and dominate the dance, on the other hand, in Bachata the chemistry between the couple matters more than the steps. Like we mentioned earlier, Bachata makes couples hug each other almost all the time. 

Bachata vs Salsa: Which is easier to learn? 

Both dances can be learnt. If someone shows the right amount of determination and consistency, there is nothing in the world that cannot be learnt and achieved, is there? But if you had to choose one partner dance between the two that can reignite your relationship and is easier to learn, you’ll have to make sure to choose the right one. 

So if you ever got the chance to watch two partners dance Salsa and thought to yourself, “We can never learn that!”, you’re not alone. Because as impressive as Salsa as a dance is, it is quick and fluid. The movements can definitely intimidate anyone to a level that they may feel reluctant to even initiate learning the dance. 

Not to misunderstand, but the point is not whether you can learn the dance or not. But, yes, maybe, you have caught yourself wishing that there was a better place to start or that there is a dance style that could prepare you for the rhythms of Salsa without having to dive into the deep end of the pool right away. 

If that sounds like you and your partner, Bachata is another partner dance that you can opt for to explore the intimacy between you both. We would like to underline here; Bachata is not just a simpler Salsa. Instead it is an altogether different dance. It’s just that if you have tuned your ears to count the Salsa beat, listening to the Bachata beat is easier to pick. Mostly because Bachata is danced globally to slightly slower beats than Salsa. 

When it comes to the question Bachata vs Salsa, you’ll have to be the judge. One dance will definitely speak to your inner dancer more. Being Ballroom dancers, we, at Dance Incubation, are excited to be giving a 6-week online dance course of Bachata. You can check it out to make an informed decision. 

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Can anyone do Salsa or Bachata dancing?

It goes without saying that dancer or non-dancer, everyone has different reasons to learn a dance form. Some people want a boost in their self-confidence, some also want to spice up their workout routines and say bye-bye to what they perceive boring physical activities, and some also want to learn partner dances to make their relationship alive again. Dance is a skill and anyone can learn any skill. 

You do not need to have dancing in your genes or be a ‘natural dancer’ to learn how to dance bachata. Dance is a great social activity. It’s fun and there is no need to worry if you struggle to learn it in the beginning. It is now more than ever easier to learn from the comfort of your home, at any time, at your pace, by hitting the replay button as many times as you want, and even without the fear of any social judgement and scrutiny, with 6-week online Bachata dance courses by Dance Incubation. 

All that learning a dance online requires is a little bit of self-motivation and self-discipline, which again, is a great quality/skill to develop. Once you give it all, you’ll notice how you start to let go and feel that you flow more naturally to the music. You will find your inner Latin rhythm. 

Final words! 

We are Ballroom dancers and love to dance these forms. We personally love Bachata and are a bit more inclined towards it as it has this ability to create intimacy among couples. If you ask us, Bachata, as its steps and the level of intimacy it demands, is meant to better relationships. 

Bachata and Salsa are both amazing social dances. As we speak, their popularity is growing and we don’t really see any decline in that growth any time soon. If we were to choose between these two dances, Bachata will be our choice for various reasons: 

  • It is a more intimate dance 
  • It will help you and your partner learn to communicate non-verbally 
  • The chemistry will translate into understanding each other in life in general
  • Both partners are taking the lead 
  • It is an opportunity to whiff pheromones
  • It teaches you to flirt 
  • It helps you release oxytocin – the ‘love hormone’ 
  • As beginners, it will make you laugh together 
  • It encourages touch more than Salsa does
  • It helps you be self-confident individually too 

It was very wise of you to spend some time researching the type of dance you want to learn before settling for just any online dance course. We have tried to put a lot of information here for you to understand these two dances. 

For further information, you can also ask any of your friends and family members who know how to dance. Ask them for advice and you can ask them how they learned to dance. With the best instructional material, you can learn to dance any kind of dance. 

Make it a goal to learn at least one and serve your relationship with the spark it deserves. Once you start learning to dance, we assure you, it becomes easier and easier to pick up new dances. 

The important thing is that you learn to dance! Dance is the best therapy you will ever receive. It will improve your life in so many ways generally also. 

We wish you all the luck to learn these intimate dances. Keep dancing!


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Caroline Kjeldgaard

Fulltime dancer and creator

Caroline is giving her all to share knowledge around sensuality and movement as a female dancer. She is based in Hong Kong and provides weekly guidance to her followers.

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