OTHER LATIN DANCE MUSIC STYLES
What's the difference between Salsa, Plena and Pachanga?
When you first start dancing you quickly learn to recognise and distinguish two distinct styles, Merengue and Salsa. Soon you are able to distinguish Cha-Cha-Cha as well, although sometimes a fast Cha-Cha-Cha can sound very much like a slow salsa. But there are many more styles of Latin music out there and learning to distinguish all of them can add a whole new dimension to your dancing experience.
Some tracks actually combine a number of different styles in the one track, which makes them challenging but potentially more interesting to dance to. Most notably "A Golpe de Folklore " by Grupo Niche (from their album Golpe de Folklore) starts off as a Cumbia then turns into a Salsa. Very rarely you get three styles in one track such "Corazon rumbero" by Albita (from her album Dicen Que). This track starts as a salsa, then turns to a Merengue, then a Cha-Cha-Cha, then back to a Merengue again. All in the one track!
Bachata - is a form of latin dance that has its origin from the countryside of the Dominican Republic. The dance and musical expression was created by servants after a hard day's work so it wasn't as generally accepted by high society. Although it was created in the 1960s, the music and dance didn't gain acceptance until the late 1990s. The original term used to describe this latin dance was amargue which means bitterness until a more mood-neutral term of 'bachata' was introduced which generally means a party. Even this term is highly disputed as some rural areas of the Dominican Republic says bachata means trash, while other says the term was derived from an Italian music centuries ago called ballata.
Merengue - was made the official dance and music of the Dominican Republic in the 1930s by then president Rafael Trujilo. Merengue is a two-step beat requiring both dance partners to bend at the knees as they move sideways or circle each other in very small steps. This in turn makes their hips move from right to left which when danced correctly, both partners hip should move in the same direction.
Bolero - is a Spanish dance style that is danced in 3/4 time with strongly marked rhythm. It can be danced either singly or as couples. Distinctive features are the paseo (“walk”), bien parado (“sudden stop”), and various beating steps (battements). An outstanding musical example is Maurice Ravel’s Bolero (1928) for orchestra. The Latin-American bolero is a slow, romantic rumba danced with simple steps.