You've Come A Long Way Bachata / by Randy Ortiz

Que Fria! By Randy OrtizFrom the dusty floors of the local Dominican dive to sold out seats in Madison Square Garden, Bachata has seen it's fair share of criticism and huge success throughout its history. I remember the big Bachata boom and when I first started liking it (early 90's) where it welcomed acts like Antony Santos and Luis Vargas amongst others, also the overall opinion folks had in DR years ago told by my father. He used the term "música de barra" which translates to bar music, according to him you would only hear that in places where the alcohol runs as loose as the women did. Not necessarily family friendly or a place that people spoke highly of, it was embraced by campesinos and mostly ignored by middle-class or those with money. In recent years it has skyrocketed into something that goes beyond being enjoyed only by Dominicans or Latino people.

Bachata songs are mostly about heartbreak or love and some have incorporated more modern-day electronic instruments into its bitter-sweet sound as well, to best compare the type of lyric or basis you can say it's our version of country music or Blues. From its beginnings and ties to the bars it was perfect to go along with your visit to heartbreak city, it was also looked down upon in society due to its nature and sound. It went under the same bashing/scrutiny Rock, Punk and Hip-Hop went thru and some people from older generations still won't think of it as good music. When you first listen to a Bachata song the first thing that you'll notice is the high-pitched guitar play and bass which dictate the dancing rhythm (step 1, 2, 3 front, step 1, 2, 3 back) and swaying of the dance floor. By the time the 90's came around it already went thru certain transitions, from bar music to double entendre (Luis Segura comes to mind) to highly requested party music and now stadium acts.

It's gone from Ramon Cordero being the faint backdrop sounds of a heartbroken man looking down at a bottle to Romeo Santos selling out MSG and the concert being played on HBO, quite a gigantic feat for a genre from a small tropical country. Now you see people from all sorts of backgrounds AND countries enjoying what many of us have been for quite some time, no longer is its home a place of sadness and despair. I'm sure the roots were firmly placed in releasing the pain from within but now it's all sorts of emotions and stories, it can be highly infectious and loved once heard.

It shows the power of music and natural progression of society embracing something which was unnecessarily frowned upon and that my friends is a beautiful thing.