Merengue : A national symbol in Dominican society

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Merengue is maybe the most sought after Latin dance from around the globe. Its success on the international stage is associated with the success of the Dominican national.  Even though the true origin of this music is not known, the theories surrounding it is strongly related to expressions of Dominican identity. Merengue is therefore a national symbol in the Dominican Republic.

Merengue was born from the combined fusion of African drums and European music. The African drum was combined with the ballroom friendly contredanse, using the five-beat cinquillo rhythm. The dance moves focus on hip movements rather than complicated steps. But instead of line dancing, the couples danced in a free manner, in casual or traditional attire, to lyrics that talk about destiny, love, politics and immigration.

The Dominican Republic is an eclectic mixture of races from Africa and Europe, and the incessant beat of the merengue can be heard in the crowded streets, among the cacophony of motorists, fried meat and human laughter. Merengue oozes out of self-service stores, bars, fast food joints,  televisions from homes, and even in taxis and buses. Not only is Merengue heard, but danced to as well, right from kids at school on a lunch break to womenfolk at housework.  Merengue is that force which unites Dominicans everywhere and anytime. Merengue is not only a national obsession, but serves as a musical backdrop for everyday Dominican life.

In the final week week of July, a unique Merengue festival takes place in Santo Domingo, where Dominicans and many thousands Puerto Rican and European tourists indulge in an all night Merengue celebration party, along the waterfront. Merengue, thus, forms the lifeblood of Dominican society.

Watch the merengue video of Los Cantantes – Te compro tu novia


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