Rueda de Bachata

I decided not to include this short draft chapter on Rueda de Bachata in the guide since although sharing some characteristics, the origins of the dance are quite different from other variations of Rueda de Casino. It is also incomplete, with some missing dance positions. These notes provide only a taster, but if you enjoy the dance, commercial DVDs are available online which provide much more detail.

Rueda de Bachata is simply Bachata danced in a Rueda Structure to Bachata music rather than Salsa or Timba. Some of the basic moves are similar to Rueda de Casino moves, whilst others have been created to suit the style of the Bachata dance. If you enjoy Bachata and haven’t tried this version yet, it is worth having a go simply to enjoy the variety. The music is great fun to dance to, and being generally slower than Salsa, there is more time to execute the moves.

Rueda de Bachata (Bachata rhythm)

Bachata is a distinctive music and dance form which originated in rural areas of the Dominican Republic as a country dance for couples. It has rapidly evolved in sophistication to become a mainstream and popular latin dance, largely supplanting Merengue as the DJs favourite way of varying a night of wall to wall Salsa (although now sharing dance time with Kizomba). Although still relatively uncommon, with relatively few few instructional DVDs or Youtube videoclips it does seem to be growing slowly in popularity.

A group led by Seemore Johnson and Cristina Pujol claim to be the first choreographers of this variation of Rueda, with a performance of Rueda de Bachata at the 2003 Boston USA Salsa congress. They started not with the idea of copying Rueda de Casino, but totally by accident, as you can read here on their website, where you can also watch a video of the first performance and buy instructional DVDs. They now have a set of over 100 moves.

http://hipsonfirevillage.com/dances-info/rueda-de-bachata-info/rueda-de-bachata-bachata-rueda-history/

However Bachata de Rueda seems to be a fairly obvious idea, and the diversity of calls suggests that it probably also developed independently in other places, with Rueda de Casino moves adapted to suit the Rueda de Bachata format.

These notes assume that you already know something of the basic Bachata step, and describe only a sample of moves to illustrate some of the possibilities, largely gathered from UK-based instructors[1], or adapted from partner Bachata. The toe taps on beats 4 and 8, and the small lift of the hip of the tapping leg which characterise Bachata are not noted in these descriptions unless the move requires a variation.  The cautionary notes about lack of standards in naming Rueda de Casino moves applies even more to this  dance form, so don’t be surprised if you come across very different interpretations of these moves, or the same moves with completely different names. The style of the move descriptions is a little different from the Rueda guide, and gives more emphasis to each of the 2 sets of 4 beats in each 8 beat pattern.

 The dance

Rueda de Bachata always begins in Pa’ al medio position like a Rueda de Casino startup. Couples are in Bachata partner hold, LEs facing anti-clockwise, left shoulders into the Rueda. This is the ‘default’ position in Rueda de Bachata, rather than the open position (Guapea). It is possible to dance Rueda de Bachata in most of the Rueda dance positions apart from the open position, which doesn’t seem to suit Bachata footwork. Bachata music is slower than Salsa, and in theory there is more time to focus on things like looking good, precision, and styling than in normal Rueda de Casino.

As partners dance with a tighter circle than Rueda de casino, there is little room for turns on the inside, so in general turns needing more space are done while stepping to the outside, from Brinquito, the in-place rocking step, or from the Rueda formation (‘facing in’) position. If you have got to grips with Rueda cruzada (see Chapter 17) you can apply the same idea to Rueda de Bachata; this works well as there is more space for turns.

The basic step, and calling

The default basic step in Rueda de Bachata is a sidestep in towards the centre in the Al centro position, followed by sidesteps to the outside. The original version by Seemore Johnson and Cristina Pujol includes Brinquito at this point, a forward and back tap step over 8 beats, which provides a starting point for many further moves.

Bachata has a less pronounced 8 beat pattern than Salsa and can be counted as repeated sets of 4 beats. In Bachata de Rueda it is often convenient to follow an 8 beat pattern (2 sets of 4 beat bars of music). So in the default Al centro position the timing would be  ‘1-2-3-4’ (the characteristic tap or ‘hip’ on the 4th beat)’ going in, and ‘5-6-7-8’ (tap or hip on 8) going out. Whilst many moves are called when outside the Rueda on beat 8 with the intention of starting the move on the next beats 5-6-7, which gives a lot of time to prepare, others can be called when couples are in the centre e.g.  Arriba, Afuera, Brinquito.

Rueda de Bachata – Simple movements – example moves

Some of these simple movements are based on familiar Rueda moves in the closed position:

  • Al centro or Pa’ al medio
  • Abajo
  • Arriba
  • Brinquito
  • Mecedora
  • Se viro
  • Slide
  • Statico

 Al centro or Pa’ al medio (to the centre).

Bachata sidesteps in and out of the Rueda, the default ‘marking time’ step from which most of the moves begin. Couples are in the closed position, LEs face anti-clockwise around the circle, FOs clockwise.

On 1-2-3-4: Bachata basic sidesteps in towards the centre.

On 5-6-7-8: Sidesteps to the outside of the Rueda.

 Abajo (backwards).

In the closed position when couples are towards the outside of the Rueda, LEs facing anti-clockwise, FOs clockwise, everyone steps in a clockwise direction (i.e. LEs backwards, FOs forwards). In the reversed position (LEs facing clockwise, FOs anti-clockwise) after a call such as Se viro, everyone steps anti-clockwise.

Arriba (forwards).

In the closed position towards the outside of the Rueda, LEs facing anti-clockwise, FOs clockwise, everyone steps in an anti-clockwise direction (i.e. LEs forward, FOs backwards). In the reversed position (LEs facing clockwise, FOs anti-clockwise) after a call such as Se viro, everyone steps clockwise.

 Brinquito (little jump).

An in-place rocking step with a tap, from which other turns and combinations can be started. Included in the basic step by default in the ‘authentic’ version of Rueda de Bachata for this purpose.

On 1-2-3-4: In the closed position whilst to the outside of the Rueda after couples have completed their sidesteps to the outside, do an in-place rocking step, i.e. LEs step forwards step with their left foot on beat 1 then tap behind it with the toe of the free right foot on 2, LEs backstep onto the right foot on 3 and tap behind with the toe of the free left foot on 4; FO’s meanwhile steps are a mirror image of the LE’s.

On 5-6-7-8: Repeat this step pattern over the next 4 beats.

Couples then do a basic Al centro sideways step in and out of the Rueda over the next 8 beats before repeating the Brinquito step. Repeat this pattern until another move is called.

As an alternative variation over 2 sets of 8 beats, which changes the timing of the sidesteps to the centre; do the first 4 beats of Brinquito as described, then Al centro on 5-6-7, step out on 1-2-3, then do Brinquito again on 5-6-7.

 Mecedora (rocking chair).

As Brinquito but instead of interleaving the Al centro step, just keep doing the Brinquito steps backwards and forwards in place until another move is called.

Pa’ afuera (to the outside).

On 1-2-3-4: The basic side step in towards the centre in the closed position.

On 5-6-7-8: As couples sidestep to the outside of the Rueda LE’s release their right hands from behind the FO’s back and bring the LLH/FRH firmly towards the outside of the Rueda, releasing hold to send the FO into a left free turn as the LE simultaneously turns to his right.

On 1-2-3-4: Couples retake the closed position as they sidestep into the Rueda, recommencing the default in and out step pattern.

Se viro (turn yourself).

In the closed position whilst to the outside of the Rueda, couples turn 180 degrees clockwise in place and begin to step in a clockwise (LE forward) direction. Continue until the next call. Repeat the move to return to the starting (default) position and direction.

 Slide

On 1-2-3-4: On beat 1 sidestep towards the centre (LE left foot, FO right) on beat 2 cross the free foot behind and transfer weight to it. On beat 3 sidestep towards the centre again taking a bigger step than normal. Keeping weight on the inside foot on beat 4 slide the free foot (drag it along the floor) to close the feet. FO’s steps mirror those of the LE throughout.

On 5-6-7-8: On beat 5 sidestep towards the outside (LE right foot, FO left) on beat 6 cross the free foot behind and transfer weight to it. On beat 7 sidestep towards the outside again taking a bigger step than normal. Keeping weight on the outside foot, on beat 8 slide the free foot (drag it along the floor) to close the feet. FO’s steps mirror those of the LE throughout.

 Statico (in place).

In the ‘outside’ position (when couples have sidestepped out) do the basic Bachata step in place with small forward and back steps, hardly moving the feet, but emphasising hip movements etc. Repeat until another move is called.

Rueda de Bachata – Changing partners – example moves

Most of these simple movements are based on familiar Rueda moves in the closed position.

  • Hombres
  • Hombres doble
  • Hombres vuelta
  • Media vuelta
  • Mujeres
  • Mujeres doble

Dame (give me one).

On 1-2-3-4: Whilst sidestepping towards the centre, release the LRH from behind the FO’s back and lift the LLH/FRH high; the LE steps further in to the centre and begins to step forwards under the raised arm.

On 5-6-7-8: As the FO steps out release the LLH/FRH hold, the LE steps towards his next partner (slight diagonal) and takes the closed position.

On 1-2-3-4: Resume the basic step towards the inside.

 Dame dos (give me two).

As Dame, but LEs move on 2 partners inside the Rueda.

 Dame pa’ arriba (give me one clockwise).

As Dame, but the LE steps backwards and takes hold with the FO who was originally behind him.

Dame pa’ arriba sin soltar (give me one clockwise without letting go).

As Dame sin soltar but LE steps backwards taking hold with the FO who was originally behind him.

 Dame sin soltar (give me one without letting go).

As Dame but keep hold of the original partner’s hand (LLH/FRH) whilst taking a modified closed position with the new partner (LE’s right hand lightly behind FO’s back). Continue the default step in this position until the next call. The call can be repeated, LE’s ducking under the arms so that the ‘inside’ arms cross over, drawing everyone into a closer huddle. To end the fun, the call is ‘Recogela’ (re-take her) which indicates that the crossed hands in the centre be released, taking the normal closed position with current partners.

 Dile que no (say no).

More like Tarrito afuera in normal Rueda than the familiar version of Dile que no. Normally called when stepping in an anti-clockwise circle (i.e doing Arriba).

On 1-2-3-4:,The LE steps forwards on the outside of the circle, lifting the LLH/FRH, and with his RH in FO’s back leads his partner to step forwards inside the Rueda before releasing hold.

On 5-6-7-8: LE and FO retake the closed position with new partners and continue the Arriba anti-clockwise step. LEs and FOs remain facing in the same direction throughout.

 Enchufla (connect).

This move is quite different from the familiar Rueda version of Enchufla; the LE has to change position quite a lot to make it work.

On 1-2-3-4: Whilst sidestepping towards the centre, release the LRH from behind the FO’s back and lift the LLH/FRH high.

On 5-6-7-8: Lead the FO to half turn to her left so that she faces anti-clockwise around the Rueda. LE steps forwards under the raised LLH/FRH, and keeping hands high, half turns to his left to face clockwise around the Rueda. LE and FO have now changed position; the LE is slightly to the outside of the Rueda relative to the FO.

On 1-2-3-4: Lead the FO to half turn to her left so that she is back in the default position facing clockwise. LE steps under the raised LLH/FRH and half turns to his left to face anti-clockwise around the Rueda again, keeping the LLH/FRH high. The LE ends slightly inside the Rueda relative to the FO.

On 5-6-7-8: Start Dame – LE steps forwards under the high hands, releases hold and steps forwards to his new partner as both sidestep to the outside.

Enganala (deceive her).

As Dame but keep LLH/FRH hold. After briefly taking the same modified closed position as in Dame sin soltar with their new partner, LE releases his right hand from behind the FO’s back and steps backwards, returning to his original partner, with whom he has kept LLH/FRH hold throughout.

 Zig zag

On 1-2-3-4: Starts like Dame with basic steps in towards the centre, releasing hold and lifting the LLH/FRH high.

On 5-6-7-8: Release hold, unlike Dame the LE doesn’t take hold with his new partner but takes extra wide side steps to the outside of the Rueda as she does her normal sidestep. LE steps forwards around her on the outside of the Rueda, displacing position anti-clockwise.

On 1-2-3-4: Take LLH/FRH hold with the new partner, lower the arms but don’t put LRH behind the FO’s back. Sidestep in towards the centre.

On 5-6-7-8: As couples sidestep to the outside they give an ‘air kick’ on beat 8, release and push off the LLH/FRH hold to give momentum, and do a free ‘Pa’ afuera’ turn (LEs right and FOs left)

On 1-2-3-4: Couples retake the closed position as they sidestep into the Rueda, recommencing the default in and out step.

Rueda de Bachata – Simple turns

 A few straightforward turns from the closed position, when sidestepping in and out of the Rueda.   (NB. A ‘right’ turn = a clockwise turn; a ‘left’ turn = an anti-clockwise turn).

  • Dame (which is like Tarrito)
  • Dame dos
  • Dame pa’ arriba
  • Dame pa’ arriba sin soltar
  • Dame sin soltar
  • Dile que no
  • Enchufla
  • Enganala
  • Zig zag

Hombres (men)

A simple right turn for the LE.

On 1-2-3-4: The basic sidestep in towards the centre in the closed position, release the LRH from behind the FO’s back.

On 5-6-7-8: Lower the LLH/FRH, the FO steps back out as normal, the LE turns to his right changing hands behind his back briefly to LRH/FRH then changes to LLH/FRH as LE and FO retake the closed position ready to return to the basic step.

 Hombres doble (men twice)

A right then a left turn for the LE.

On 1-2-3-4: The basic step in towards the centre in the closed position, release the LRH from behind the FO’s back.

On 5-6-7-8: Start as Hombres; lower LLH/FRH, LE turns to his right changing hands behind his back to LRH/FRH, keeping this hold the LE taps his left foot towards the centre of the Rueda on beat 8. The FO meanwhile has continued the basic sidestep.

On 1-2-3-4: The LE turns to his left as he steps to the centre, changes hands to LLH/FRH and retakes the closed position as he taps with his right foot on beat 4. The FO meanwhile has continued the basic sidestep.

On 5-6-7-8: Resume the basic sidestep towards the outside in the closed position.

 Hombres vuelta (men turn)

A simple left turn for the LE.

On 1-2-3-4: As both side step towards the centre release the LRH from behind the FO’s back and lift the LLH/FRH, LE turns to his left under this arm all the way round to face the FO and retakes the closed position.

On 5-6-7-8: Resume the basic sidestep towards the outside in the closed position.

 Media vuelta (half turn)

An ‘in place’ Bachata step done when couples are to the outside of the Rueda. In order to make this turn possible LE and FO need to be in a very close hold; the LE needs to draw the FO in close, ensuring his right foot is between her feet, thighs touching. Called from the centre position (beat 4 or 5).

On 1-2-3-4: Holding the LRH firmly in the FO’s back, bend the knees and lower the body, pivoting on the LE’s left foot, FO’s right, and twisting the upper body so as to turn a quarter turn or more to the left.

On 5-6-7-8: Rise from the bend turning to the right and opening the hold to return to the closed position.

 Mujeres (women)

A simple left turn for the FO.

On 1-2-3-4: The basic step towards the centre in the closed position. Release LRH from behind FO’s back.

On 5-6-7-8: On the sidestep to the outside, lift LLH/FRH and lead the FO into a complete left (a-cw) turn and retake the closed position.

On 1-2-3-4: Continue with the default sidestep in towards the centre.

 Mujeres doble (women twice)

A left then a right turn for the FO, as she steps out then back into the centre.

On 1-2-3-4: The basic step towards the centre in the closed position. Release LRH from behind FO’s back.

On 5-6-7-8: On the sidestep to the outside, lift LLH/FRH and lead the FO into a left (a-cw) half  turn, stopping the turn by placing LRH on her right shoulder as she faces away from the LE.

On 1-2-3-4: On the sidestep to the inside, lead the FO into a right (cw) half turn to face the LE again, and retake the closed position.

On 5-6-7-8: Resume the basic sidestep towards the outside in the closed position.

Mujeres, hombres (women, men)

A left turn for the FO, then a left turn for the LE.

On 1-2-3-4: The basic sidestep towards the centre in the closed position. Release LRH from behind FO’s back.

On 5-6-7-8: Do Mujeres, i.e. on the sidestep to the outside, lift LLH/FRH and lead her into a complete left (a-cw) turn, but don’t retake the closed position.

On 1-2-3-4: Keeping the LLH/FRH high the LE turns to his left under the raised arm before retaking the closed position. 

On 5-6-7-8: Continue with the default sidestep to the outside of the Rueda.

 Roja (red)

A LE turn and reverse with a strong toe tap.

On 1-2-3-4: On the basic sidestep towards the centre, release the LRH from behind the FO’s back and lift the LLH/FRH. As the FO completes the basic step, the LE turns left under his left arm to more or less face the FO and taps strongly behind with his right foot on beat 4.

On 5-6-7-8: Reverse the LE turn and retake the closed position, tapping on the LE left foot/FO right foot on beat 8 as normal, as couples come to the outside of the Rueda.

 Vacilala (check her out)

A free right turn for the FO. This may be called either when everyone is in the centre, giving 4 beats to prepare, or started immediately if the call is when positioned to the outside of the Rueda.

On 1-2-3-4: Release LRH from behind FO’s back and lower LLH/FRH to waist level, immediately ‘throw’ the FO’s right hand and release hold, sending her into a free right turn as LE and FO step towards the centre.

On 5-6-7-8: Retake the closed position and resume the basic sidestep towards the outside in the closed position.

  

A few more complicated partner turns

(Mostly adaptations of Salsa moves).

  • Candado
  • Candado doble
  • Copa doble
  • Criss-cross
  • Setenta
  • Sombrero

Candado (padlock)

On 1-2-3-4: From the default closed position, whilst stepping in towards the centre, take DOHH.

On 5-6-7-8: Lift LLH/FRH and lead the FO to half turn to her left to end facing away from the LE, lowering the arms into a ‘cuddle’.

On 1-2-3-4, 5-6-7-8: If Se queda (stay) is then called, maintain this hold and continue to sidestep in and out of the Rueda until a call of Se fue (go), otherwise:

On 1-2-3-4: Lift LLH/FRH and lead the FO to half turn to her right to end facing the LE, release hold and retake the closed position.

 

Candado doble (double padlock)   

As Candado, but turn the FO in and out twice over 2 sets of 8 beats.

 

Copa doble (double cup)

On 1-2-3-4: From the default closed position, whilst side stepping in towards the centre, take XHH, (LRH/FRH on top).

On 5-6-7-8: Whilst stepping out, lift hands and with right hands lead the FO to half turn to her right to end facing away from the LE, lower LRH/FRH to FO’s right shoulder and LLH/FLH to FO’s left shoulder. LE is slightly behind and to the FO’s left side, both facing anti-clockwise around the circle.

On 1-2-3-4, 5-6-7-8: LE and FO sidestep in and out, changing relative positions every 4 beats so that the FO crosses to LE’s left then across to his right, the LE remains behind the FO throughout. Repeat until a call of Se fue (go).

  • An alternative option when towards the outside of the circle, on a call of Caminala (walk her); couples stay in this position (LE to left of FO with hands on FO’s shoulders), and couples walk forwards in an anti-clockwise direction around the circle.
  • A further variation of this Caminala alternative, on a call of Se viro (turn yourself); rotate 180 degrees clockwise in position  to face clockwise around the circle, repeating the call to return to the default anti-clockwise position ready for the next call.

On 5-6-7-8: To return to the default position and step, lift the arms and lead the FO to half turn to her left, lift the crossed arms over and behind the LE’s head, release, and retake the closed position.

 

Criss-cross   

On 1-2-3-4: From the default closed position, whilst stepping in towards the centre, take XHH (LRH/FRH on top).

On 5-6-7-8:  Lift right hands and turn FO to her right to end with her LH behind her back, lower RHs over FO’s head.

On 1-2-3-4, 5-6-7-8: Sidestep in and out with this hold; repeat until a call of Se fue (go).

On 1-2-3-4: Lift the high right hands from behind the FO’s head and turn her to her left, lower the hands to meet the left hands then lift them both over the LE’s head, release and retake the closed position.

 

Setenta (seventy)

Alternate FO and LE turns while sidestepping in and out, i.e. much simpler than the equivalent Salsa figure, without the repeated changes of position.

On 1-2-3-4: From the closed position, whilst stepping in towards the centre, take DOHH and lead the FO into the first half of a Setenta turn (i.e. lift the LLH/FRH and lead the FO to turn to her right, wrapping into her left arm; keep the LLH/FRH high), LE remains facing anti-clockwise around the circle.

On 5-6-7-8: Whilst side stepping to the outside, unwind the FO from the Setenta position by leading her to turn to her left back to DOHH.

On 1-2-3-4: Keeping this hold, lift the LLH/FRH, the LE turns to his left, wrapping into his right arm, keeping the LLH/FRH high; the FO remains facing clockwise around the circle

On 5-6-7-8: The LE turns to his right, reversing the turn, lowers the arm and couples retake the closed position.

 

Sombrero (Mexican hat)   

On 1-2-3-4: From the closed position, whilst sidestepping in towards the centre, release the hold and take LRH/FRH.

On 5-6-7-8: Lift LRH/FRH and lead the FO to turn to her right to end in a half-Sombrero position (RHs at FO’s right shoulder, LE’s arm over her shoulder) as both turn slightly to end facing into the Rueda. Take LLH/FLH in front at waist level.

(The next steps are all done facing into the centre).

On 1-2-3-4, 5-6-7-8: Step forwards and back, in and out of the circle.

Repeat over further sets of 8 beats until a call of Se fue (go).

On 1-2-3-4: Lift the LRH/FRH and lead the FO to turn to her left, changing back to the default position (FO facing clockwise, LE anti-clockwise), lower and release the hands, and retake the closed position.

On 5-6-7-8: Continue the basic side step.


[1] Steve Reid and Moe Flex

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3 thoughts on “Rueda de Bachata

    1. Sorry I pressed the reply button too quickly.

      If you want to dance Rueda de Bachata as originally devised by Seemore Johnson and Christina Pujol, check out this video of an introductory class which they have put on Youtube.

      I will shortly be adding some notes on this to the blog, plus a description of Ocho and Ocho doble.

      Regards

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