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Merengue, Dominican Merengue

Updated on March 23, 2013
Merengue | Source

Mernenge is a dance that originated in he Dominican Republic many years ago. References to the merenge date back to 1854. When Raphael Trujillo was the dictator of the Dominican Republic, beginning on about 1930, he made the dance more popular. He came from a poor background where the merenge was popular. So he made merenge the national symbol of the Dominican Republic, and ordered that some merengue songs be composed in his honor. The merenge tipico is a style of merengue called “perico ripiaro” translated into english it is the ripped parrot. That was the name of the brothel in the Dominican Republic where the merenge music was first played. Perico Ripiaro is the national symbol of the Dominican Republic.

The popularity of the merengue spread throughout all of the Latin American countries. I first learned to dance merenge in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. On my first visit to the Dominican Republic, I was in a bar where they were playing merengue music. People were dancing everywhere , even on the stairs. I particularly like the merengue because it was easy to learn. I now live in Colombia, and merengue is popular here too. Merengue is one of four popular dancing styles here, merengue, salsa, bachata, and reggaeton.

One reason for its popularity is that it is fun and easy to learn. The dance is done in a closed stance with the pair holding each other. One just has to learn to coordinate the foot movements with the hip movements. The motions are usually side to side or in a circular motion. It can be quite the sensual dance. Supposedly the dance originated from the slaves in the sugar beet fields.

Merengue dancers in front of  a museum in Santo Domingo
Merengue dancers in front of a museum in Santo Domingo | Source

The name merenge came either from the French word merengue which is a dessert made from whipped egg whites, or from an African word that means to dance. Because the African slaves invented the dance I would be more likely to believe that the word merenge has its origin from the African word that is similar.

Some international performers that played merenge music and helped to make the music more popular are, Juan Luis Guerra, Los Toros Band, Sergio Vargas, Johnny Ventura, and Las Chicas del Can.

If one would like to learn merenge without going to the Dominican Republic, then just view the following video. Although, I would recommend the trip. First spend about four days in the walled part of Santo Domingo called the Colonial Zone, Zona Colonial. Then travel to Punta Cana and spend a week in an all inclusive resort. These resorts are constantly teaching tourists to dance merengue and bachata.

Watch and learn Merengue

That would be a lesson in merengue that you would remember for the rest of your life. In the Colonial Zone one would learn a lot about the history of the Dominican Republic while learning to dance the merengue. In Punta Cana one would probably master the merengue and learn the bachata while enjoying some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

When one becomes more experience with the basic steps, one can learn some turns and some more advanced moves. Dancing merenge brings back some fond memories when I was first introduced to the Latin culture. I have become very fond of the Latin dancing and the culture as a whole.

Tourists learning merengue in Punta Cana
Tourists learning merengue in Punta Cana | Source

Merenge is not just a dance or a style of music, but it is part of a culture and a life style. Part of the Dominican culture is the merengue, hence the same is the national symbol. So when you learn the merengue, don't just learn the dance steps but learn a part of the culture of the Dominican Republic.

One last word about merengue, and that is that it is so easy to learn that even a dog can learn to dance merengue. If you don't believe me then watch the next video.


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