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Brief History

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Origin(mid 1800's)

Merengue is a popular type of dance throughout the Carribean. It started in the mid-nineteenth century as ballroom dance music. It is known to be related to the European-descended danza.

Ealry Popularity(mid 1800's-1930)

It was not popular among high society Dominicans because of its African influences, but it was popular in rural areas. Merengue transformed once more with even more African influences once it was popularized in rural areas. This led to develoement of merengue tipico cibaeno and other derivatives. This specific derivative of merengue became the top social music and dance in Cibao's countryside and barrios. It was often performed on the tambora, the guira, the button accordion, and the alto szxophone.

Coming to the National Dance of Dominican Republic(1930-1961)

During the U.S. occupation, marines introduced jazz music. It led to collaboration and created big-band-jazz-influenced merengue or "Yankeee-syle merengue." When the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo came to power, he brought merengue as a national symbol. Ironically, he promoted un-African influenced merengue while his heritage carried African blood. Still, it made merengue accepted in high-society balls.

Evolve to the merengue of the present(1961-)

Led by bandleader Jonny ventura and arranger Luis Perez, merengue adopted salsa elements and rock 'n' roll performance style. It was performed on the tambora, the guira, the piano, the bass, the singers, and tow to six wind instruments. Then the popular merengue we know as nowadays was formed in the late 1900's. It was combination of rural sounds, urban hip-hop, and house music.

This is Merengue

Someone once said, "If you can walk, you can merengue." Merengue is considered to be easier than Bachata or Salsa.


1. Anne Gallin, Ruth Glasser, and Jocelyn Santana with Patricia R. Pessar and Julia Alvarez Caribbean Connections: The Dominican Republic Council on Latin American and Iberian Studies, Yale Center for International and Area Studies, Teaching for Change, 2005