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Status Quo of Bachata DJs in 2024

Whenever my niece says that she is bored,

my sister tells her that I always told my sister the same thing.

Clearly, I am one of the hardest persons to be entertained or pleased by anything.

When DJs think they are just at the level of satisfaction, I will present you the BDMC.

When I say I can only dance on music which is composed well,

I do not simply mean "composed without dishamonies, false rhythms or melodic impairments".

The composition rating CR is nothing but

the small foundation of the "edificio exceptional" which has to be built on top for musical dancing.

For me, "musicality" in dancing is not what people typically do in socials

but what

I do in socials.

In short, I think the compositioral quality of Remixes was raised to an acceptable level,

to a great part because there are lots of cooperations with singers and other musicians nowadays.

On the other side, I do think and feel that the songs

which are used in many international dance lessons by dance teachers are

still superior to any DJ mix in a social dance party.


Why is that so?

Firstly, obviously, because only with strong music one can present a strong social dance

which is the butter and bread of any teacher/artist on social media platforms.

Secondly because (good) dance teachers always pick songs which they can interpret easily (e.g. for the warm-up); songs which DJs do not need (because they do not interpret themselves by only playing music)

or do not even know of.


When I dance in workshops, followers are very pleased with what I do.

When I go to parties, they wonder why I stand or sit around all day not dancing.

Imagine that I have to explain what I explain on this homepage in two sentences on a party,


I just let people know that I am not such a fan of the music played (which is the short simple truth).

When they insist on dancing with me (because they think I am shy or just want to dance with a handsome guy),

I will just dance random stuff like andybody else to random music - out of politeness -

and wait for the "dance" to end.


Mostly, instead of a piano with 88 keys, many DJs gave me like 4 keys.

This is such a waste for so many wonderful followers which I could make happy

and where I know that they strongly approve of musicality.


I hope with the following questions and my answers to it,

I can explain my disharmony between the potential of Bachata and outcome of music and dances.

What is a healthy percentage of own songs/remixes played by Remix/Production DJs?

By the time DJs become producers, there is an internal conflict.


When a DJ is "only" playing music made by others,

the DJ will just play the songs which he/she thinks is "the best" - whatever their criteria:

if they like it,

if they like dancing on it,

if they like the attention when they play the music which people demand,

and so on.

When DJs becomes a producer, typically DJs want to play their own music for many reasons:

because they put a lot of effort in it an think it is exceptionally good,

because they want to see people dance on their work,

because they get money and fame for it (no matter the quality).

Therefore, the commercialization is rivaling the best entertainment for dancers,

the mixer is becoming more important than the mix itself

which might lead to a disbalance in most cases,  in my opinion.

I would claim that all Bachata DJs which I've listened to

play too many of their own songs,

even more so: too many of the same songs 3 days in a row on a festival.

It becomes even worse when Remix DJs play with other Remix DJs on a festival

because they want to support each other or even rival each other with their own work.

Therefore, genuine songs of bands and other musicians can become quite underrepresented.

Even though the compositoral quality of Remixes and productions of DJs reaches a level of "real Bachata songs", the lyrical content of many songs lacks behind other "real songs".

And even if they would be on the same level, the ratio between DJ productions and other productions is still ill.

In my personal opinion, I would never play more than 2, maximum 3 own songs per set

and keep the total amount of DJ Remixes / Productions low

- as I also would not play too many songs of Romeo Santos or Prince Royce

even though they do have a high compositoral quality and danceability.

For "real Bachata songs", it is quite logical to keep a dance mix diverse

as each of those artists does have a certain genre and a certain feeling to it.


Yet, since Remix/Production DJs produce songs with different styles/feelings,

there is the possibility to play lots of own songs because they do not repeat the same style all over

but this is again the danger to exclude many other works.

I hope that these DJs will realize that their own commercial success is not more important

than the impact of a high quality mix will achieve for the entire dance scene.

After all, you can generate an artificial demand for "your music" by pure presence

but only as long as people do not see alternatives, e.g. in other dances.

How does an ideal festival party schedule look like from a social dancer's perspective?

Every dance festival is somewhat different regarding their structure.

Yet, we do always have certain amount of fixed parties and workshops.


I want to talk about what I think makes a good festival especially for social dancers,

which the very majority of Bachata dancers are.

### Thursday ###


Personally, I have rarely attended Pre-parties because of the costs (flight/accomodation/holiday time)

so I think the Pre-Party is more dedicated to the local dance scene,

maybe also for short-term advertisement purposes in the local area.

Thus, it makes sense to use a mix which the local people might like more.

Since there won't be many international guests yet,

the party might also allow for a bit more "musical experiments".

On the other hand, as advertisement party,

one should probably concentrate on "catchy" songs, too,

to attract more people to the festival.

### Friday ###

Starting Party

The starting party sets the mood of the particular festival,

so it makes sense to come up with something which is unique to this festival which is attended.

Right before the starting party, there haven't been any dance classes yet

(except maybe for pre-party classes).

Therefore, people only dance with the skills which they already possess.


In principle the friday party should include any styles and any difficulties,

in most cases in just one dance room.


Normally the longer the party,

the more advanced dancers will stay,

so it could make sense to start slow and increase the songs regarding versatility and musicality.

On the other hand, some people might want to start with the earliest workshops

so an even distribution of song types throughout the party would make even more sense.


In any case, it is not that easy to start a festival in an exceptionally great way

but still, there is less pressure on the starting party than on the main party,

so it is a good idea to give smaller/more unknown local DJs a chance as well to present themselves

- which is evenly valid for the pre-party.


Main Party

The main party is a complex construct

because it tries to serve many different purposes at once:

- play the latest hits (in most cases too many times by all DJs anew)

- let people practice their new dance moves

- satisfy a broad range of dance levels from complete beginner to advanced dancer

- play a broad range of music styles and levels up to some rather "experimental songs"


Fitting everything in a single mix can get very challenging.

This is why I am a big fan of a large room with a "general mix"

(maybe even combined with some minor part of Salsa/Kizomba)

and a small room with an "advanced mix"

(maybe even combined with some minor part of non-Remix Pop/HipHop/Experimental songs).

When there is only one room available, the overall mix should include these aspects

which is hard to manage in an elegant way.

The general mix can satisfy beginner to intermediates

and also people who are only remotely interested in Bachata with classic songs, hits, animation and shows

whereas the small room with the "advanced mix" concentrates on "advanced dancers"

with more complex songs, hidden gems, experimental songs / special songs of DJs etc.

Obviously, each room can also implement parts from the other to let people switch between rooms more often.

This way, everybody can be served the beste experience to choose from.


Finishing Party

Before returning home, the final party of the event ideally leaves the guests with a smile and a good memory.

In most cases, only dedicated international guests and locals may attend the sunday party

(and those who want/can save money with a cheaper flight during work days).

As the final party is often smaller than preceding parties,

it has to deliver in one room

where the main party can often times split up "diverging tasks" in several separate rooms.

Therefore, a compromise has to be found for everybody to enjoy it

- if not the entire evening, then at least some part of it.

Therefore, I believe that the sunday party is the one which does have most freedom regarding songs

and should be able to use this freedom.

On top, it is -somewhat- easier to react to the demand of a more homogeneous group

such as advanced dancers are mainly left on this party

(even though advanced dancers might only be pleased by well-made handpicked songs).


Socials / Events / Pool Parties / Shows / Competitions...

I bet that many social dancers like to have social parties at daytime as well.

Even if this means one has to skip lessons which happen simultaneously,

socials might compensate for many different reasons to evening/night parties:

- some people like to practice workshops right ahead in a non-festive atmosphere with music

- some people like to visit the city of the venue at different time schedules and skip night parties

- some rather skip lessons / animations / shows entirely for parties

- some like the atmosphere of a smaller room with a DJ which does not have too much pressure to perform

- some like to talk / getting to know people on socials

which is quite different in mood compared to a loud crowded place at 3 am in the morning.

Special events (pool parties, games, competitions, ...) and party themes are always a welcome distraction.

Just to make sure they do not interfere with social dancing too much

or reduce the offer of social dance time of the festival for the sake of special events

but are rather offered as alternative program.

Also for the closing party on sunday, a certain "special gift/event" of whatever form might just do the trick.


I am a big fan of animations, no matter which kind of music it is.

But because they interrupt social dance time for everyone,

I also like when they are placed on the right spot, such as:

After shows, as a closing event, on pool parties etc.

Just with events, the problem arises when animations rival social dancing:

when people are distracted constantly by someone who wants their attention on a stage

without leaving them the option to just dance

with all the other wonderful people who flew there from far away

to dance with other Bachata enthusiasts.

What types of DJs are there?

On the many festivals I have been, I have seen two types of Bachata DJs.

You could also look at those categories as "the extreme ends of social dance DJ behaviour".

a) Deterministic DJs

Deterministic DJs want to be seen an heard. Basically, they seek the attention of the many.

I bet most of them do have a lack of self esteem (of private origin)

and try to make up for it by dictating which songs people have to dance on.

Deterministic DJs are also likely to produce Remixes for the same reason

to put their name on something to be seen and heard by lots

- actively suppressing works of other people (be it musicians or other Remix DJs) which might offer more quality.

Deterministic DJs put on a show to stage themselves,

in their head in analogy to good dancers

(who, in contrast, ideally stage the music, not themselves).

They love looking down at people from their high position just like rulers.

They tend to use the microphone often to "inform" people about anything which they can think of.

They will always have a DJ sample of themselves in any of their own Remixes and as "drops" in mixes.

They produce Remixes to increase their presence and income.

They are frequently using their phone during the mix to produce further promotion and self-advertisement clips. They are networking hard to, again, be seen and booked very often.

They only praise the names of other DJs for self-promotion purposes.

The bigger the event the better for them - more money, fame & attention.

The louder the better, increases the presence and people perceive music to be "better" when it is louder.

They are content when they are in the center of attention.

They like distractions during their mix and even dance in parallel to their mix.

When they are bored, they use effects (without a specific purpose) - just to play with something - during a mix.

They fear innovation which might generate more competition which they possibly cannot control.

Danceability does not matter since it does not increase their fame and notoriety in their definition.

b) Attentive DJs

Attentive DJs are there for the dancer's purpose.

They look from above to feel the collective vibes of a dance floor.

They look at the dance crowd an figure out the mood of the dancers

which type of song they crave most as followup: fast? slow? romantic? enegergetic? musically demanding? salsa?

Most attentive DJs are active dancers or teachers as well and feel which songs might be suited for dancing.

Attentive DJs look out for each other and play as a team:

if one is busy with a mix, the other checks equipment and sound.

They try to figure out which songs might bring out the best of the dancers' abilities.

They try to connect different styles and energies in a mix in a meaningful way.

Smaller events with dedicated people are more welcome for them - even though they do not produce much income.

They produce Remixes for the purpose of musicality, creativity and serving people's needs.

They do not crave for attention since the music is in the center of attention:

which is what they provide, not themselves.

They are content when the people can express themselves.

They search for the ideal sound volume and quality to let people feel (but not be crushed by) the sound.

Sound effects are only used to improve accents in a mix but are most of the times unneccessary.

They like space around their equipment and like to to concentrate on their work.

They use songs as they were made (speed, no additional effects / rhythm sections on top of it)

and alter them only in very specific circumstances (e.g. cutting start and end if interrupting the mix too much).

The best DJ is the one which you do not remember

but the party your were on you do remember well.

Art never needs to have a name, it can stand on its own.

How much of a deterministic DJ are you? How much of an attentive DJ are you?


Yes, I know that it also belongs to a DJ's job - a certain degree of show and self-promotion is absolutely necessary to run a business.

One might ask oneself if DJs who simply provide quality do not need as much advertisement

as the ones who do not.

How should a DJ (not) look like?

This might seem like a stupid question because everyone dresses as they please but

what should a DJ actually look like? There is this saying that "clothes make the man".

I want to flip the question to what I think a DJ should not look like.

When I think of dance teachers,

I mainly think that they dress how they look for two reasons:

a) to express their individuality

b) to dress the most attractive way for business reasons


When I look at many Bachata DJs, I do not see any individualism.

They remind me of the men in grey of the novel Momo,

dressed in a suit with sunglasses,

pretending competence and quality just like politicians

where reality can sound quite different.


When I think about a DJ's role in a social dance, I think of three main roles (compare attentive DJ):

- listen to the music

- look at the people

- care about the event

In reality, there are DJs that already have hearing impairments and play music so loud one needs ear protection (noise cancelling headphones were not made for this but they would help here!)

and putting sunglasses on in dark dance rooms so that they cannot see anything of the dance crowd.

But instead, they annoy people constantly with permanent self-advertising instead of using the microphone for important information only (announcment of shows, unforseen events that hinder the festival, ...) .

To sum up, they do everything inversed.

I would welcome a DJ who does not care much about how they come across

more than about how their work comes across

which is reflected by the people dancing

who are forced to listen to your mix.


How much promotion does a DJ need during his/her set?

Since I am a lousy DJ regarding revenue,

I might be the wrong person to answer this question.

Still, I know that

Bachata social dancers going on international festivals

will not be sold something which they do not fancy.

I need to remind here that everybody can choose the teachers which they want to learn from,

but nobody can choose the songs nor DJs in a dance room which they attend

(as long as there are not multiple rooms, of course).

That is to say: People are exposed to the mix on the dance night no matter what.


This is quite the responsibility which DJs need to be aware of.

Most events do show schedules when DJs play to be able to choose from which is a good thing,

but the schedules are always sequential if only room is available.

And I doubt someone will go outside and play with their thumbs for 2 hours

to wait up to the point when their favorite DJ is playing.

In fact, most people do not even recognize which DJ is playing

because they simply do not care as long as they play good Bachata.

Which is actually the right way and makes deterministic DJs seem rather outdated.

Which DJ plays the latest hits - and how many?

I am always surprised how often DJs play the same songs over and over again

when you can choose from hundreds of great songs.

Yes I get it - when good new Bachata songs are out there,

everybody wants to play them because they love them as well

and because they want the songs to be played by THEM.

Nevertheless, on a party, the DJs should form a team where ideally

no single song is played more than twice

(except for it is exceptionally good or highly demanded).

On top, not every new song of famous artists is a good song

(even though the chance might be higher).

It seems like nobody can judge which song actually is a good song for dancing.


Should songs be composed after rules of danceability?

Recently I feel composers and DJs seem to be using more breaks in songs.

"Full breaks" (meaning audio volume going to 0)

as well as rhythmic sections (staccato bongo/guira or stop-and-go guitar parts)

-just like many popular songs of Romeo Santos-

which, I think, are specifically implemented to be interpreted on the dancefloor.


In principle this is an interesting idea and I think about the advantages and disadvantages of such an approach.

On the one hand, it gives songs more variability and uniqueness which is exactly what makes musical dancing fun,

on the other hand it, again, depends on how well a break is made:

If the breaks are implemented without preparation (without a musical introduction within the song),

they can only be used by "learning the song in detail" = listening to it a lot

which, in the end, is more like a semi-choreography.

Moreover, a break should not be composed "just for the sake of a break" - it should have meaning in a song,

or at least some kind of connection to it, it needs to feel natural.

Otherwise it just feels really artificial and displaced.

Yes, one can still use accents but it is not that much fun to learn to match some random staccato pattern

- instead of finding such details in a song which was not meant to be danced when it was composed.


You could compare it to surfing as well:

nature never planned for humans to ride waves;

they just come into existence on the ocean because some storms form "randomly" (after laws of physics).

Yet, humans are creative and find a way to use this energy when it arrives on the beach

- just like with dancing on musical songs.

Meaning: I prefer to dance on songs which are not specifically composed for dancing

because I prefer selecting the music which is good for dancing and use these songs

but nevertheless, "dance-wise composed songs" could make a big difference for learning musical dancing,

so they can be very valuable as well.

And on top, if composed very well, one would not recognize the difference between an intentionally composed dance-song

versus one that just by chance happens to be suited for dancing

(as it probably is the case for many songs with participation of Mayinbito/sP Polanco).


Maybe it works to "condition" people with big breaks first

to later use the same "pseudo-musicality" on smaller breaks.

I doubt it will work this way but it is worth a try.

This way one might be able to avoid "un-training" of figures.

On a more practical note, since there are many slow productions due to musicality now,

the overall mix tends to be a bit too slow on many parties.

Would you place Dominican Bachata songs in a dance mix? And if so, where?

Dominican Bachata can be very refreshing in a mix due to its very simplicity in sound texture.

One can compare it with 8 bit compositions of early Nintendo NES games:

Since there were only 8 distinct sounds available on the memory cards,

composers had to be very creative regarding composition to make meaningful music.

Nowadays, with electronic music, there are endless possibilities of sound textures;

this is why the average compositoral quality (rhythm & melodies) of songs becomes worse on average

(also because of the vast amount of music produced nowadays because the hurdles of production sank drastically).


There are many Dominican Bachata songs which are very simple and which I would not play

because they are very interchangeable.

But the same effect like with 8 bit music can be seen for some composers

just like Joe Veras who did make very meaningful music.

Selecting and playing those good Dominican Bachata songs will add quality to any dance event,

not only very fast energetic Demonic Bachatas ;)


The spot of a Dominican song in a mix is a difficult question

since it differs strongly from "modern"/"western" Bachata songs

regarding sound texture.

I would play Dominican Bachata e.g. after experimental songs to "come back to Bachata",

before or after a Salsa part (especially if it got a Cha Cha element) or as energetic booster.

Romantic Dominican Bachatas can obviously replace Sensual songs

(even though I admit to prefer Sensual songs in this case most of the time).

Yours, DJ Vamp Bachata

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