Facts About Merengue, Dominican Republic’s National Dance With Its Unique Origins

Dominican<a href=httpshowafricacom> <a>merengue<a href=httpshowafricacom> <a>dancing Photo Wikimedia CommonsJavier10


The Dominican Republic is home to several African-inspired cultural dances. It is unusual to attend a social gathering or walk the streets of the island community without seeing a display of gestures typical of the people’s traditions.

The origins of Merengue, the Dominican region’s national dance, are the focus of this article, not the cocktail of the Dominican Republic’s rich cultural dances.

There are conflicting accounts of how Merengue came to be a popular dance among the people of the island city.

According to flodance, one fact that cannot be disputed is that Merengue is part of the Dominican Republic’s national identity.


According to oral history, the Merengue originated with the enslaved who lived in the region in 1700. Historians believe that the basic steps of the dance were adapted from African and French minuets.
It arose from the inventiveness of the enslaved, who were captivated by their owners’ ballroom dances during festive periods.

The Merengue was born from an attempt to mimic the ballroom dance and regular practice of its movement.

They made fun and flexible parts of their owners’ dance moves that were rigid and boring. They accelerated the rhythms in order to make the dance more exciting and danceable. Merengue traditionally emphasizes group participation rather than individual participation in the dance. It is choreographed with dancers forming a round-like arc, arms locked, and facing each other.

Another school of thought on the origins of the traditional dance holds that it was inspired by a war veteran who was paralyzed in one leg after a battle. The townspeople danced dragging one leg in recognition of his heroic exploits while returning home, reminiscent of the reality that had befallen him as a result of the war.

Another origin of Merengue that has come up strongly in the Dominican Republic is that the dance came about as a result of slaves trying to get familiar with the chains on their legs on slave plantations and ended up developing a rhythm while dancing. They used the cane sticks for the drumbeats as they cut them on the sugar plantations, but, that camaraderie developed into the dance that evolved to be known as Merengue.

Merengue dance moves are simple to learn due to its widespread popularity. According to UNESCO, Merengue is woven into the Dominican Republic’s social fabric. People incorporate traditional dance into events ranging from the streets to schools and social gatherings.

On November 26, 2005, the Merengue was designated as the Dominican community’s national dance. Traditional dance festivals are held in communities such as Santo Domingo and Puerto Plata as part of efforts to nationalize it.


Written by How Africa News

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