Happy Dominican Independence Day! I would like to throw back to this photo from my trip to DR in 2011. I already loved Bachata at this point, but I hadn’t yet gone down the path of being head over heels for “traditional” style yet. This trip is what did it. I don’t have any pictures of my Bachata experiences (because when you’re white and some Dominicans take you to their favorite colmado for Bachata, you either embrace it and go full gringa or you pretend like you’re a cool white person – I attempt the latter. Perhaps this photo is not great evidence for that, though haha!), but I do have vivid memories of riding a moto up a hill out of the town in Samaná, having the skies pour rain down upon us for half the ride, and arriving at the colmado, soaking wet, to many funny looks, a cement dance floor, plastic lawn chairs encircling the dance floor, cups of Presidente abounding, and bachata dancing like I had never seen it. The footwork was so creative, so heartfelt, and so different from what the congress scene told me was “Dominican/traditional Bachata.” I was mystified. I noticed the guys were definitely the show offs (and in a modest way compared to the studio dance scene) and the women actually danced more plainly, but that didn’t mean they weren’t feeling the music. The joy you feel from Bachata as it was intended is felt more than it is seen by onlookers, and it is magical. I returned home from that trip totally changed in my love for Bachata and with a deep love for the country and culture that the dance emerged from. Even though I’m not even remotely Dominican (or Latina or Hispanic for those who are unconvinced), I still want to celebrate this day for what the DR and it’s rich culture have added to my life. Feliz día de la independencia!