Merengue

The music

Merengue Music is very different from one region to another and from a singer to another. The tempos are varied and Dominicans prefer to speed up the tempo towards the end of the song.

Structurally speaking, the music can be with two beats per measure (2/4) or with four beats per measure (4/4). From this point of view, merengue is not so different form other music styles, but the main difference is given by the specific instruments: tambora, saxophone and accordion.

The dance

Merengue is the national dance of Dominican Republicand by extension of the island neighborsHaiti.

There are two legends about how merengue first appeared:

one legend says that the slaves, while working, had to move on drums’ rhythm, but they had one leg tied so they were limping.

another legend says that in one of the many Dominican revolutions, a well known hero was injured at one leg and when he went back to his village, a big celebration was organized and out of sympathy all the people were dragging one foot while dancing.

Originally, merengue is a combination of two dances: the African dance at the French Minuet from the ending of the 1700’s and the beginning of the 1800’s.  The black slaves were seeing the dances in the “big house” and they were imitating them at their own parties; but this dance was stiff and boring, so they added hip movements or even small jumps.

There are two main types of merengue: merengue de salon and merengue de figura, both types are caractherized by a simple dance: a step for each music beat.

Merengue de salon is danced in couple in closed position (like the waltz). The couple steps at the side and performs turns together. The couple never separates during the dance.

Merengue de figura is danced in couple, but it can be danced in both closed and open position. There are performed turns both together and separately by each dancer, but the partners never leave their hands during the dance.