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Merengue Dance Origins
The original Merengue has African and French traits, wherein the slaves watched the elite ballroom dances from afar and created their version as a form of entertainment.
However, the European tunes weren’t what they liked. Hence, lively sounds such as drum beats were gradually added to the dance.
According to this origin, it was understandable that the Merengue was a social dance for a large group. They still had a man and a woman facing each other, though they maintained a distance of an arm’s length.
Before the Dominican Republic recognized Merengue as its national dance, Meringue had a tough time throughout the 19th history due to the appearance of risque lyrics and African music.
Both of them were considered indecent to the public, though the simple steps that everyone can learn are certainly a bonus.
We have to give the German merchants more credit for having brought the accordion to Dominica.
It quickly gained an indispensable spot in the band and eventually paved the way for more appropriate instruments like piano or brass tools.
Check more: Where Did The Macarena Dance Begin?
How To Dance Merengue?
In most cases, the songs for Merengue have a 4-beat bar.
And the dancers have to stay in sync with the rhythm while doing the moves precisely with their partners. The male will take the lead and let the female mirror his steps.
The male’s weight should be on his right side before he starts with the left foot. Stomp on it, pull it towards himself, and shift the weight to it.
By now, his right foot will be free to repeat the same movement.
Until the end of the eight counts, the man will continuously shuffle from one foot to another and guide his partner along.
Back & Forth Steps
Basically, the dancers will move forward or backward instead of stepping to the side. Shifting their weight between their legs rhythmically will maintain a nice and fluid flow for the movements.
Practicing both backward and forward steps is extremely important because Merengue dancers stand face-to-face. When one of them moves forth, the other will have to step back in return.
Aside from the basic steps, Merengue can get quite complicated when you add the turns. The male dancer will use a side step to start a swirl and lead the female with one hand or both hands.
Furthermore, as you get more familiarized with Merengue, you will feel the sensuality hidden beneath the music and the moves.
A Merengue performance is not complete until you can insert emotions and theatricality into these simple movements.
Merengue Dance Music
The music for Merengue is generally vibrant. Although it has an original song, people nowadays associate the dance with their favorite tunes as long as the rhythm is ensured.
In a Merengue song, we commonly detect accordion, piano, saxophone, guitar (bass and regular), trumpet, and many more.
Merengue Dance Attire
Merengue Dance Attire For Male
The standard outfit is a shirt with opened collars, dark slacks (jeans are alright too), and a pair of shoes they are comfortable with.
Merengue Dance Attire For Female
They will wear shirts with high cuts and leave their midriff exposed, coupled with short skirts or long pants with thigh slits.
Any shoes would do if they look good and make the dancers feel confident.