Merengue originated in the Dominican Republic. It is the national dance of the Dominican. There are a few stories describing how the dance originated. The most common one is that of the slaves who were chained together and had to move by dragging one foot at a time. Merengue as a two beat music and since the footwork is quite similar to walking, it is a very easy dance to learn.
Merengue is played in 2/4. The double sided drum is played on one side with a stick with a strong syncopation to mark the beats. Saxophones and guitars are also very popular instruments found in the music.
Merengue footwork is extremely easy to learn as it’s a simple two beat movement (“left, right”) with the body weight being moved between the legs. The upper body stays fairly straight while the hips move with the weight change. The Merengue frame is much smaller (closer) in comparison to Salsa. Having said that, Merengue is often led with a single (right) hand on the back. But in open hold, arms are often completely extended out instead of maintaining a closer L-shaped frame.
Latinos NZ Popularity Scale: 8.5/10
Meregue is a very popular Latin American Dance in New Zealand, second only to Salsa. On an average night out in a Latin Club, as many as every second or third song can be Merengue.