salsa vs bachata

Salsa vs Bachata Secrets You Should Know About

The difference between salsa vs bachata lies mainly in the tempo and rhythm. One (bachata) has a more straightforward rhythm which can be helpful when you try to learn salsa.

bachata dance pose with Julie

What is the difference between salsa vs bachata?

salsa vs bachata dance poses

Bachata’s slow rhythm can be summarized into two sets of mirror-image beats. Four beats to the left (or right) and 4 to the right (or left).
On the other hand, salsa uses three beats per set, with muted tones (4 and 8). The rhythm is faster for salsa and requires more “space occupation” than bachata.
Most of the difference between salsa and bachata is that bachata use more sensual and static body movements, while salsa has various tempos.

Is it better to learn salsa first or bachata?

Learning bachata first is the wiser choice if you are an absolute beginner. You only have to worry about one set of beats since the other set is an exact mirror. Although there are stops, there are no “break patterns” like in salsa measure.
And as long as you can count to 4, you can master the 8-beats of a bachata measure.
Check out these basic bachata steps lessons applied in real life. Once you can master these basic steps, everything becomes possible.

Tempo and basic steps of bachata


The key here is to recognize the beats in the measure and how they split into two sets (i.e., one measure = 2 sets of 4 beats). Just like a great pizza, the secret is in the dough. Once the base is there, you can add any toppings you like, and the pizza will still taste great. So it’s more important to worry about dancing steps on the right beats rather than fanciful gestures.
Master these basic bachata steps, and you will be great in no time. 

Tempo and basic steps of salsa

On the other hand, salsa has many variations and can be complicated to master. 
You must first understand the rhythm of the music, find the beat, then master the body movements, and finally integrate all these with the correct footstep, according to the perfect rhythm of the music playing.
Therefore to progress in salsa, you should focus on the following:
Recognize the Rhythm | Body movement | Steps 

To dance on the beat, you should learn to recognize patterns with the help of the most common instruments used in salsa (clave, conga…). In my free tutorial, I teach you how to recognize these patterns and how to progress from beginners to experts. I like to use the clave as I love Cuban music and Cuban salsa.  

Salsa vs bachata basic steps

The difference between salsa vs bachata is emphasized from the very basic step. Although bachata’s basic steps are lateral, salsa, on the other hand, is frontal with forward and backward moves or, in the case of Cuban salsa, circular movements.

basic salsa steps man and woman

Check these few salsa steps. As you can see from the video below, the critical difference between salsa and bachata is the ever-changing tempo.

Salsa vs bachata mindset 

I want to live vs. I want to die

A few years ago, a singer complained that he didn’t like to play bachata renditions because bachata songs were always about a guy thinking of killing himself or about to kill himself. Although exaggerated, bachata is more about love and emotions, while salsa explores many aspects of life.

In salsa, I make you spin – In bachata, I cling to you

Another key difference between salsa vs bachata is that bachata dancers dance very close to each other. This is due to the style’s slow pace, language, and romantic nature. In salsa, however, sticking indefinitely to each other is just not in sync with the music style. Again, you can check the difference between salsa and bachata videos.

Enjoy a playlist of salsa vs bachata moves

Learn Cuban Salsa, Bachata, Improv’ and many other dance styles. Check out these videos and see what you can achieve in less than 3 months. Private lessons available for just £35/Hour. Free body movement and basic salsa and bachata lessons provided.

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