Aventura’s Reunion Tour Captures Bachata’s Evolution

On June 4, Aventura — the timeless bachata band that consists of Romeo Santos, Henry Santos, Lenny Santos, and Max Santos — hit the stage at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, as part of their reunion tour Cerrando Ciclos. They had already performed at the venue two nights in a row, as well as played a show at Madison Square Garden on May 23. With an audience filled with mostly Dominicans — many of them proudly waving their flags — it was remarkable to see how a genre that was once associated with the bars and brothels of lower-income neighborhoods in the countryside of the Dominican Republic has become such a global phenomenon. And it was Aventura, a boy band formed by four Dominican teenagers in the 1990s, that would completely revolutionize bachata beyond what any of them could have originally envisioned.

In February, Romeo Santos announced that he was reuniting with the group for the second time for the Cerrando Ciclos tour, which kicked off on May 1 in Sacramento, CA. The group had last joined forces in 2020, right before the Coronavirus pandemic hit for their Immortal Tour. According to Billboard, it grossed $25.8 million. And while Tuesday evening was far from their last tour performance in the tri-state area, the group really gave their all, exciting the crowd with some of their biggest hits: “Dile al Amor,” “Un Beso,” “Todavía Me Amas,” and their 2021 single with Bad Bunny, “Volví.” They closed the show with a guest appearance from Judy Santos for “Obsesión.”

It took a while for bachata to become a global sensation, but today, even non-Latin music artists like The Weeknd are dipping their toes in the genre.

In the late 1980s, the genre became more widely accepted across the island thanks to bachata legend Blas Durán and even more so after the release of Juan Luis Guerra’s “Bachata Rosa” album in 1992. Bachata made its way to the East Coast of the US in the mid-1990s thanks to artists like Luis Vargas, Anthony Santos, Raulín Rodriguez, Frank Reyes, and Zacarias Ferreira — all artists Romeo Santos would eventually go on to collaborate with. But the reality is that bachata wouldn’t be as mainstream as it is today if it wasn’t for Aventura and its members’ brilliant ability to modernize the genre to cross over to an American market.

It’s fair to assume that this is likely the group’s last reunion rodeo, given that they’ve been around since 1996 when they went by Los Tinellers. It was the first time a music artist or group broke the rules of bachata and infused its sounds with R&B, pop, hip-hop, and reggae — bringing a genre once referred to as bolero campesino into the mainstream market. On Tuesday night, I felt the emotion and immensity of all that as I watched a group I’ve been listening to since junior high school light up an entire arena filled with fans who shouted the lyrics to every song performed so loudly that at one point I thought my ears were going to pop.

As I looked around a sold-out stadium, all I could see were numerous Latin American flags waving, with the Dominican community clearly showing up. Every now and then, I’d notice a non-Latine in the crowd singing the Spanish lyrics and swaying their hips back and forth to bachata’s basic side-to-side step. But Romeo addressed the audience entirely in Spanish and even gave a few shoutouts to all the Dominicans present, especially those who have been loyal fans since the band’s earliest days.

Bachata has come a long way since its inception in the barrios of the DR, and nothing brings me more joy than to see how long it has managed to survive — thanks to now-legends who still prioritize the Dominican community’s devoted support.

Johanna Ferreira is the content director for PS Juntos. With more than 10 years of experience, Johanna focuses on how intersectional identities are a central part of Latine culture. Previously, she spent close to three years as the deputy editor at HipLatina, and she has freelanced for numerous outlets including Refinery29, Oprah magazine, Allure, InStyle, and Well+Good. She has also moderated and spoken on numerous panels on Latine identity.

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