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Cabaret Bachata Music

 

Cabaret is a type of entertainment that features song, theatre, comedy and dance, but cabaret has a second meaning - a Mediterranean style brothel. It
is this second meaning that defines the term "cabaret" in the Dominican Republic. It was this essence that was brought to life in the cabaret bachata
era. The 1970s through the 1980s saw a rise in popularity of the cabaret bachata.

The lively lilts and trills of the cabaret bachata tell tales of jilted lovers, deceptive relationships and despecho (insulting a lover who has rejected them).
The music also detailed the poverty and the problems that came from living in the barrio. This was a musical era that began the shaping of modern
bachata. It was a timeless testament to the era of the 1970s, moving into the 1980s where the guitar was the musical instrument that was so
synonymous with drinking and prostitution - and poverty. In Latin American this was an inescapable truth.

Social conditions drove the bachateros to the brothels, the cabarets, as other types of music tried to rise above the oft snubbed bachata. It was during
this era that promoters of merengue and salsa took advantage of the symbolism of the guitar as an instrument of the abysmally poor. It came to
symbolize the anthems of the campesinos who lived in some of the poorest neighborhoods. These communities often were without running water,
electricity or any public amenities. It was with these communities of abject poverty that the guitar became associated.

Merengue and salsa promoters latched on to the perception that bachata was a music of the poor and unsophisticated rural folk. They basically black
listed the music as they publicly referred to bachata as activate (a thing that is worthless) and as musica de guardia (music that low ranking soldiers
drank to in the brothels). With the public's already negative view of the music due to the class of people with whom it was associated and the merengue
industry's attack, bachata was ousted and condemned to the cabaret by its own country.

As the bachateros were driven to the brothels, the music that they played began to reflect that environment. Nearly every bachatero pre 1990
experimented with the cabaret bachata style. The defining members of the group, however, were Marino Perez, Bolivar Peralta, Blas Duran and Melida
Rodriguez. It was Rodriguez who provided the rare point of view from the female perspective of life in the cabaret.

The cabaret bachata was a rough, simple structure from a musical standpoint. It was usually recorded with just one microphone in a single take. At
times the vocals were out of tune. As the eighties emerged, leaving behind the difficult seventies, bachata evolved to something more danceable. Other
styles of music were introduced, but the bachata has stood steadfast as a classic. This music has defined an era and a people. However, even as the
style evolved, part of the bachata will always remain with the world of poverty, drinking and the cabaret.