Merengue Dance History
People ask me all the time…”What is the easiest dance to do?” And I always tell them that it is Merengue. I don’t tell them that it is by far not the most popular Latin dance but I figure that Merengue dance can at least serve the purpose of getting their confidence up.
It is true….Merengue is a very easy dance. It has been around for a long time and it is possible to make it look very nice even though it tends not to get much attention as a dance to showcase one’s dancing skills.
Here are some factoids about the Merengue dance (Note: it can be spelled with an “i” or an “e” in the middle) that I bet you didn’t know:
You’ll see it spelled Merengue or Meringue. Both spellings are OK. Especially to most who just want to enjoy doing it and not spelling it anyway. It is the national dance of the Dominican Republic and is also very popular in the neighboring country of Haiti. Both have varying styles of the Merengue dance. There are different stories too about how it got started.
One plausible story is that it gets its name from a very sweet local drink made from sugar and egg whites. The mixture is beat briskly with short, precise rhythms and that might be a connection with the name of the dance.
Another story says it originated with slaves who were chained together and were forced, out of necessity, to limp as they walked along.
Still, another story says a famous revolutionary was wounded in the leg but limped back to his home village. When villagers welcomed him in a victory parade, they walked the way he did out of respect.
True………? Maybe… but art does imitate life, doesn’t it?
Merengue Dance Is An Easy Dance
The Merengue dance is a very easy dance to learn too. Dancing it uses the ‘Latin hip motion’ just like you see in Salsa, Rumba, Bachata, Chá-Chá and other Latin dances. And, the connection between partners is basically the same….i.e. hands, forearm, elbow (from your 5 points of contact) in open and closed positions.
The difference in the Merengue dance is that it is not necessary to hold on to your partner all the time. There are a lot of free style involved so a loose or open connection is actually widely preferred. The dancers don’t travel around the floor as much as they do in other dances. Rather, in the Merengue dance, most of the action is ‘in place’ (another ”spot dance”) and involves strictly the hips. That is what people are looking at most of the time, right?
A strong lead isn’t always necessary because dancers do a lot of free style in Merengue Dance. But there are other times when a strong lead is equally important as in the other latin dances and then the same principles apply.