by Ralph & Joan Collipi
The Merengue is the national dance of the Dominican Republic, and also
to some extent, of Haiti, the neighbor sharing the island. Not only is
the Merengue used on every dancing occasion in the Dominican Republic,
but it is very popular throughout the Caribbean and South America, and
is one of the standard Latin American dances in the USA.
There is much variety in Merengue music, and most South American bands
play it well. Tempos vary a great deal, and the Dominicans enjoy a
sharp quickening in pace towards the latter part of the dance.
Normally, the most favored routine at all the clubs and restaurants
that run a dance floor is a slow Bolero, breaking into a Merengue,
which becomes akin to a bright, fast Jive in its closing stages.
Ideally suited to the small, crowded club floors, it is a dance that is
easy to learn, giving rhythmic pleasure in its movement. It is gaining
steadily in popularity.
Music: The music is written in 2/4 time: two beats to a bar of music,
each step taking one beat. The tempo is 55-60 bars per minute. However,
for convenience, cue sheets are usually written as if the music were
4/4, at 28-30 bars per minute.
Hold & Footwork: The hold is similar to that in Rumba, though
Merengue is sometimes danced in a closer hold. The footwork is
How to learn the dance: All the figures may be preceded and followed by
the Basic Side Step and may commence with the man facing the wall and
the lady backing wall.
The Basic Movement is typically Latin American in character, with a
soft and attractive hip action that belongs to the music. Knees and
hips are kept relaxed, with the shoulders steady.
The man's left foot is first placed to the side without weight, the
knee being slightly bent, while the weight is carried on the straight
right leg, with the hips pushed slightly to the right. The hips
initiate the transference of weight to the left foot, moving over to
the left as the leg straightens, and the right foot is brought almost
to close with the left, without weight. The hips swing to the right
again; weight is taken on the right foot and the movement is repeated
with side step to the left.
Keep those hips in motion, and you'll be the "hit" of the dance floor.
From clinid notes
prepared for the URDC annual convention, 1999,
in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC)
Newsletter, May 2018.