How to dance merengue tipico

Dominican Republic Dance Merengue

Dominican Republic

Merengue dance originated in the Dominican Republic and is a very lively dance that can be picked up quite easily by beginners. This Merengue dancing style is a ‘4 beats-step dance’ and was created to be performed to the rhythm of the Merengue dance music.

In addition, dancing Merengue involves the performers starting off using a ‘closed’ position (i.e couple facing each other holding both hands), who then switch to an ‘open’ position (partners are standing apart, facing in the same direction holding one hand or not holding hands at all).

Furthermore, this dance is said to have evolved over the years into other forms such as the Modern Merengue and Merengue Tipico.

a. What is Merengue? Merengue Dance Origin and History:

Merengue origins starts from a historical fact stating that this dance form was developed by observing labourers working in the field in Dominican Republic. Furthermore, it so happened that these labourers were bound to each other by a chain which was then strapped to their ankles. It is these strapped ankles that then compelled the workers to walk by dragging along one leg. Thus it was this “dragging of the leg” movement used by the slaves on the field that was then developed into a dance form which was called “Merengue”.

b. The costume used in the Merengue Dance:

Since this dance style essentially involves both male and female the costume worn varies accordingly as follows:

1. For women:

The attire for female merengue dancers would include shirts that reveal the midriff, short skirts made from flowing fabric or a long pant possessing a slit that originates from the thigh area, and a pair of shoes.

2. For men:

The costume for male merengue dancers includes an open-collared type of shirt, dark slacks or jeans, and a pair of shoes.

c. Merengue Dancing Music:

The musical instruments used in the music produced for the Merengue dance style include an accordion, a bass guitar, guira, Dominican Tambora, piano, guitar, saxophone, trumpet, congas, trombone, and tuba. In addition, accompanying the vibrant music is a traditional Merengue song. Apparently, the first Merengue song for this dance style was written in 1844 and the lyrics are as follows:

Thomas huyó con la bandera

Thomas huyó de Talanquera

Si hubiera sido yo, no me habría huido,

Thomas huyó con la bandera

Which when translated in English literally means

Thomas fled with the flag

Thomas fled from Talanquera

If it had been I, I wouldn’t have fled,

Thomas fled with the flag

d. Training availability and Merengue Dance steps:

In terms of technique, this dance involves the use of a “closed position” in which the lead performer using the right-hand holds the waist of the follower.

At the same time, the leader with the use of the left-hand holds the right hand of the follower. In addition, this dance style also requires the performers to bend their knees slightly to the left and to the right which results in the hips moving towards the right and left as well.

Furthermore, the above mentioned intricate dance steps are carried out in complete harmony with the energetic beats of the music produced. If you are looking for how to Merengue dance, there are many training centres/schools available all around the globe, since this “vibrant” dance style like salsa has rapidly gained popularity over the years.

e. How to dance the Merengue (Merengue dancing Basic tutorial video for beginners explaining Merengue Dance Steps):

How Dance Merengue

Checkout 4 Merengue Dance Videos for Beginners

f. Some of the Best Merengue Dancer Videos :

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4 beats-step dance accordion bass guitar closed position congas Dominican Republic Dominican tambora dragging of the leg guira I wouldn't have fled Merengue Merengue Tipico no me habría huido saxophone Thomas fled with the flag Thomas fled with the flag Thomas fled from Talanquera If it had been I Thomas huyó con la bandera Thomas huyó con la bandera Thomas huyó de Talanquera Si hubiera sido yo trombone trumpet tuba

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Dominican Dance: Merengue and Bachata

Music and dance—more precisely, merengue and bachata—are at the core of Dominican life every day, in every neighborhood, in every corner. They top all the other DR cultural elements including cockfighting and baseball. It’s no exaggeration to say that there is no life without twirling your body to music coming from either deafeningly loud speakers or from a live band. Sometimes it seems as if every day is a party in the DR. You’ll be hard pressed to find a Dominican, male or female, who doesn’t know how to dance merengue or bachata—it’s simply not possible. They have their favorite artists and songs, and the older the generation, the longer that list seems.

Beyond the party aspect, merengue and bachata have a deeper significance culturally. Lyrics reflect social aspects of life and can talk about love, sex, politics, humor, and everyday struggles. Romance tops it all, though, as Dominicans are as poetic as it gets.

Dancers in Santo Domingo. Photo © Lebawit Lily Girma.


Merengue is the national music and dance of the Dominican Republic and has become a word and worldwide genre that is synonymous with the country itself. Merengue is the essence of being Dominican: its instruments reflect the mixed heritage of the country: an accordion (European), a two-sided drum (African) placed on one’s lap, and a güira (Taíno), a sort of metal cylinder with holes, with a brush that is run up and down across its surface. The accordion was brought over by the Spanish, but it was later retuned to play merengue notes.

Some say the word originated during the colonial period, from African dances. Merengue’s 2/4 beat is danced as a couple and has an intoxicating rhythm that can range from moderately fast to really fast. That’s because there are various types of this genre. The folkloric, traditional kind is known as Perico ripiao or merengue típico. It is believed to have originated in the Cibao region (while others say it might have come from Cuban influences) at the end of the 19th century, and can be considered the “country music” of the DR.

One well-known, award-winning perico ripao performer is Facundo Peña, from the village of Guananico in the Puerto Plata province, birthplace of generations of merengue típico performers and instrument makers, still going today. If you’re lucky to be in this area in late November, contact the UMPC (tel. 809/696-6932, local tourism network for Puerto Plata)—for information on the annual merengue típico festival.

Ironically, merengue was rejected by the upper classes at first, considered as music of the masses with vulgar movements (the same was later considered of bachata). But Trujillo arrived and changed all of that, putting merengue on center stage any many of his events and parties.

How do you dance the merengue? The man leads—holding the woman’s waist with the right hand—and the couple dances by swaying their hips sensually left and right, but without swinging the torso. They turn, step side to side occasionally, but never release hold of both hands—only one at times. If you’re a woman, your job is simply to follow the cues and keep swaying your hips while maintaining the steps and your posture. If anything, it’s a great workout. It’s relatively easy as well. You can take lessons in various parts of the country if you’d like to practice before you brave the dance floor.

Juan Luis Guerra, today one of the greatest Grammy-winning and world-renowned Latin artists, is perhaps the biggest merengue figure of the 1980s and 1990s. He took the genre and mixed it with the modern sounds of pop and jazz. One of his classic songs is Ojalá que llueva cafe (I wish it would rain coffee). Other typical merengue songs include La dueña del swing by Los Hermanos Rosario, Dominicano Soy by Fernando Villalona, and Vamo’ hablar inglés by Fefita La Grande.

While the younger generation is leaning toward a more modern merengue with guitars and saxophones or toward the “dancehall” version of Dominican music—known as dembowmerengue típico continues to be appreciated and to vibrate in the Cibao region’s cities and villages along the rancho típicos, as well as in the capital of Santo Domingo.


Bachata grows more popular every year and was recently declared the national patrimony of the DR. Bachata is a more sensual, slow genre that was made popular among the working class for the longest time before it received fuller recognition. Bachata was influenced by the Cuban bolero, but originated in the DR and is unique to this country. It was looked down on by the upper class for a long time, considered the music of bars and brothels, with lyrics about romance, sex, and poverty. Plenty of double entendre (doble sentido) and sexual connotations are hallmarks of bachata, which took shape in the 1980s, and for this reason is culturally entrenched. It’s the music of love and heartbreak.

Instruments used in bachata, a three-step dance with a fourth tap step, are numerous: guitars (lead, electric bass, rhythm), bongos or drums, and the güira. The dance takes two partners, with the man leading as always. They stay close together when they move their hips, as if forming a square or box with their feet, then engage in a push and pull with the hands, depending on one’s style. Artists credited for taking bachata to the international stage are Juan Luis Guerra, with his album Bachata Rosa, and more recently, Romeo is blazing his way through the charts. Among other famous bachata artists are Aventura, Raulín Rodríguez, Frank Reyes, Anthony Santos, and Luis Vargas.

A dancer performing at a championship in the Caribbean. Photo © Anton Gvozdikov/123rf.

Other genres you’ll hear in the DR include salsa, son (especially in Santo Domingo), dembow, the popular reggaeton, and even Dominican jazz—often at the Dominican Republic Jazz Festival on the North Coast. A great way to experience all the various folkloric dances of the DR, in a historical timeline and one sitting, is to watch the two-hour performance by the Ballet Folklórico del Ministerio de Turismo. The group performs a free dance show, complete with live instruments, twice a week in the Colonial Zone (Fri. and Sat. starting at 7pm), by Plaza de España, and it goes over all of the dances and music of the DR—including African—in colorful costumes. You’ll even get to dance with the group members at the end.

For an album with a mix of merengue, bachata, and other Dominican genres, a good pick is Latin Hits 2015 Club Edition. For merengue típico, look up El Mero Merengue—Lo mejor del perico ripao (1995).

Related Travel Guide

Encyclopedia of dance: Merengue

Expressive merengue music will not let you stand still. The incendiary dance provokes and beckons, calls to join the temperamental and sensual steps.

Merengue is an extremely popular dance in Latin America. His homeland is the Dominican Republic. This dance is very attractive for beginners, since the coordination between the movements of the arms and legs is less important here than in other Latin American dances. It was the ease in mastering the basic movements of the merengue that contributed to the popularity of this dance far beyond the borders of the Dominican Republic and Latin America. Merengue is danced all over the world. In many schools, before starting to learn the dances of the Latin American ballroom program, they study the merengue, since, having mastered its basic steps, it is easier to move on to more complex combinations of other dances.

The history of the dance

There are several versions of the origin of merengue. One version attributes the composition of the dance music to the Dominican composer Juan Bautista Alfonseca. The second version connects the appearance of the dance with the victory of the Dominican troops over the Haitians, in honor of which the triumphal melody sounded, which inspired the appearance of the dance. The third version is considered the most plausible. According to her, the merengue dance comes from Cuban music and the Cuban upa habanera dance, one of the movements of which was called merengue. They also note the influence that the culture of the neighboring island of Haiti had on the dance.

The characteristic movements of the dance gave rise to other versions of the appearance of the merengue. According to one, the dance was invented by slaves tied in a row with chains and forced to pull one leg. Another version is associated with the national hero of one of the many revolutions in the Dominican Republic. Wounded in the leg, the hero was forced to limp and pull his leg. Grateful compatriots, imitating him, did the same during the dance.

In the 19th century the merengue became one of the most popular dances in the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean. Not a single celebration and not a single dance festival is complete without this dance.

Merengue movements are sensual, erotic. An important role in the dance is played by elements of improvisation and flirtation. Merengue is a pair dance, but quite often there are solo elements in it, as an opportunity to demonstrate your skills to your partner and others.

The main movement of the dance is a walking step to the beat of the music. The number of steps depends on the desire of the dancers. The main difficulty for beginning dancers is that the merengue step requires the opposite movement to the right.

The dance uses a large number of figures, such as the rotation of the body and hips, the movement of the shoulders at an ever-accelerating pace. The partner and the partner are in a position similar to a waltz and perform the main steps "paso de la empalizada" to the side. The couple can then perform a "merengue for the ballroom" figure - turning clockwise or counterclockwise. Musical accompaniment is carried out to music in size 2/4 or 4/4.

The merengue costume includes a wide variety of embellishments.

Types of merengue

Several types of merengue are known. The most popular of them are:

salon merengue (merengue de salón)

figured merengue (merengue de figura)

In both types of merengue, the couples were not separated during the dance, but the second type of dance is characterized by many figures and dance decorations.

In its original form, the dance consisted of three parts: paseo, merengue and jaleo. But the first, slow part quickly disappeared, and the main part increased from 8-12 bars to 38-48. The third part - haleo - included exotic rhythms.

There is also a folklore merengue - "tipico", this dance is still an integral part of the Dominican national show programs.

Features of merengue

The main feature of the dance is the constant bodily contact of the partners. Even when the dancers perform individual steps, they never let go of each other's hands. Dancers can perform merengue both tightly clinging to each other, and at arm's length. Dominicans prefer to dance the merengue more apart from each other in order to be able to demonstrate their individual skills. In other Latin American countries, on the contrary, the couple dances close to each other, emphasizing the sensual nature of the dance.

From a musical point of view, a merengue feature is a change in tempo towards acceleration, the final part often sounds much faster than the initial one.

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Dance Encyclopedia: Salsa

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Latin American dancing: Puero-Ricico dancing, Dancing Sil. merengue - the main dance of the Dominican Republic


Rumble. Looks like they knocked down the door on the floor above. "Baylar contigo!" (“Dance with you!”) shouts Enrique Iglesias from someone’s smartphone. Laughter, screeching, rhythmic knocking. The ceiling is trembling. Are they dancing? I sleepily stare at the display of my mobile phone: two in the morning. In fact, the three-story villa Gansevoort in the town of Sosua near Puerto Plata is an elite vacation home for wealthy introverts. Even the staff speaks in whispers...

I listen to fragmentary phrases from above. It turns out that a Dominican diplomat descended on my neighbors in the company of the concierge and the driver Daniel, who brought me here. I cover my head with a pillow. But sleep is still not possible.

— You must have been tasting rum all night? I ask Daniel the next morning.

— What are you! I'm driving. And why drink? As soon as I hear the rhythms that are close to my heart, my legs begin to dance on their own,” the driver laughs. And suddenly, releasing the steering wheel at full speed, he starts clapping his hands and jumping to the beat of a fast farcical song coming from the car radio. - It's merengue!

Heart Rhythm

Merengue is the main dance of the Dominican Republic. Since November 30, 2016, it has been included in the UNESCO Intangible Heritage List. It has a stronger effect on Dominicans than 10-year-old añejo rum. Still: the merengue has an aging of five centuries.

“Merengue flows in our blood, its rhythm coincides with the beating of our hearts,” says Daniel.

According to one version, the dance was created by the ancestors of the Dominicans - African slaves of the Spanish and French colonizers. They worked in the sugar plantations and gold mines of the island of Haiti with chains on their feet. Movements were limited: small steps left and right and tilts. The overseer urged on the slaves with rods - they jumped. And so the rhythm was born.

In the 1790s, the gradual abolition of slavery began. Not all French and Spaniards supported the liberation movement - some tried to strengthen their positions as slave owners and colonizers. The slaves were finally freed in 1822, and in 1844 the Spanish political community "Trinitaria" proclaimed the eastern part of Haiti an independent Dominican Republic.

Blacks, mulattos and white Europeans became citizens of the young state. And the composer Juan Bautista Alfonseca set the rhythm of plantations to major music. The result was a light life-affirming dance, which was given the name merengue . Why this is so is unknown. The Dominicans themselves associate the name of the dance with an airy meringue (meringue) cake: the movement of the whisk when whipping proteins and the dance steps are somewhat similar.

Probably, the Dominicans considered the merengue the beginning of a new, sweet life. But it was too early to dance with joy: the young republic did not have enough strength and resources for self-government. Spain, France and the United States fought for the Dominican lands. Neighbors from Western Haiti periodically attacked. The country is mired in debt.

In 1861 the Dominican Republic was annexed by Spain, in 1916 it was occupied by the USA. The West did not want any reminders of slavery and African culture. Activists tried to ban the provocative dance, but to no avail.

And in 1930, Rafael Trujillo came to power. The ruler returned to the Dominicans the merengue tipico (a version of Alfonseca's times), ordered them to compose variations - new melodies and words - on the theme of the merengue and declared the dance a national treasure.

Trujillo came from the lower Dominicans. In addition, he wanted to win over the people with the help of merengue, to show that "life has become more fun. " However, the dictator considered the white and “not too dark” population of the country to be the people. Trujillo hated his African roots. On his orders, the soldiers massacred thousands of blacks. When at 19On the 61st, Trujillo was killed by the conspirators, the merengue turned into a dance of freedom and equality. And the Dominican Republic — to the dance floor…

Houses of all colors of the rainbow with openwork architraves and white balconies are crowded on the streets of Puerto Plata. They were built by the Spanish colonizers. Exhausted citizens hide under the umbrellas of street cafes. An artist with an easel in the shade of a flamboyant (“fire tree”) draws a colonial house, and his legs move continuously left and right. This is because the wandering musician, sitting on the stone porch of the house, strums the merengue guitar.

A police officer at a road junction pulls a ringing cell phone out of his pocket, but is in no hurry to answer. Ringtone - merengue! And the elderly stocky law enforcement officer suddenly begins to wriggle to the beat, like an iguana.

Surfers on the ocean coast and they dance.

— How are you? Good! - swarthy surf instructors Jerry and Dauri improvise rap in Russian to the rhythm of merengue, having learned that I am from Russia. Their colleague, the German Markus Bohm, dances with them. He came from prosperous Germany to the Dominican Republic to “catch a wave” and stayed for 28 years.

— In the Dominican Republic, celebration and joy all year round, explains Markus.

He is not the only white foreigner who voluntarily gave up European comforts for an endless dance party. Here is another downshifter - Italian Andrea Attus. He quit publishing in Milan and now works on a cable car in Puerto Plata.

— In the Dominican Republic, no one cares who you are and where you come from. Dancing gradually blurs the lines between races and social classes, says Andrea. “Even the representatives of the lower strata do not feel hurt and enjoy life.

Pride of the poor

The lower classes of Dominican society are farmers, fishermen, fruit merchants, workers in national parks. Almost the entire territory of the country is occupied by forests, fields, gardens, limestone caves. Many villages are located right in the nature reserves.

On the path of the reserve El Choco , in the suburbs of Cabarete, a milk truck with a beaten canister drags on a donkey. In the thickets of giant ferns hide shacks, hastily knocked together from rough palm boards. There are gaps between the boards. In one hut, a door was knocked off its hinges and tied to a post in the opening with a rope.

Inside, on four pegs, there is a sheet of iron covered with ashes, apparently from a landfill, on top - red-hot bricks and charred saucepans. An elderly woman in a faded dress sits on a shabby makeshift stool. In front of her, bean pods are laid out on limestone. Apparently, he cooks la bandera, a favorite dish of the local poor, reminiscent of the Dominican tricolor flag. Meat is red, a symbol of independence. Rice is white, salvation. Blue-violet beans - blue, freedom . .. Seeing me, the hostess introduces herself as Petrulencia and smiles cordially. She is missing her front teeth.

— Yes, we live in poverty. But we have much to be proud of. After all, it was we, the poor, who invented bachata, which is now danced even in secular society! Petrulencia assures me.

The bachata dance ( bachata - "party", "drunk") was born in the time of Trujillo. It was also called the music of bitterness - amargue . The peasants slowed down the rhythm of the merengue and composed minor melodies: this option was more suitable for their lifestyle.

It was considered bad manners to perform amarge in the highest circles. But at 19The popularization of this musical style began in the 70s. The prejudice against bachata was finally broken in 1990, when the Dominican pop singer Juan Luis Guerra released the album "Pink Bachata", the songs of which immediately became hits even among the upper strata of society.

Simultaneously with bachata, the image of a simple woman in curlers came into fashion. When going to dances, peasant women curl their hair in hairdressers. Small curls (African heritage) are considered ugly. If you look bad, they won't invite you to dance.

In 2016, during the election campaign of the current President of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina, posters were hung all over the country: Danilo, as his fellow citizens call him in a brotherly way, hugging a lady in curlers. The Dominican leader made the right bet. From the point of view of the people, a good president is one who honors dancing.

We don't complain. After all, no one encroaches on our freedom anymore. This thought is easy to live with. For example, for a whole week I think about how I will go to a disco on Friday night. The weekend is ahead, dance till you drop,” a resident of the village of Carlos tells me. And in the meantime he dances. Getting ready.

Red day

Friday evening. On Columbus Square in Santo Domingo, the "merengue gang" performs - musicians in simple checkered shirts. They play on some boxes and graters. Bursting, chirping, rattling sounds are reflected from the walls of the fortress. Feeling like I'm inside an old music box.

“The Box” is our marimba,” explains my guide from the Dominican Ministry of Tourism, Prudencio Ferdinand, a native of Santo Domingo. - Metal plates are attached to the front wall of this box, and there is a hole under them. The plates are tapped with hands or sticks, a sound with resonance is obtained. "Grater" - guira. Metal roller with pimples, which are driven back and forth with a scraper.

The obligatory instrument is the African tambora drum: it is beaten with both hands from the left and right. More guitars. And an accordion. Trujillo ordered to bring it from Germany in order to perform merengue in a modern way. The classical merengue ensemble has at least 15 musicians.

The crowd moves to the concert with the power of an ocean wave. People, like lizards, clung to the entire hill to the very foot of the fort. There is nowhere to dance, but that doesn't stop anyone.

A guy with a glass in his hand, spinning his partner, accidentally splashes rum on the head of a lady who has sat down to rest. She turns around angrily. “Sorry, I got carried away with the dance!” — the guy justifies himself. And the woman immediately breaks into a smile. A hunched old man is spinning with a young mulatto beauty. The obese pregnant madam bounces to the beat. Their movements are clear and harmonious.

- Nothing complicated. When you dance merengue, you need to follow your partner carefully. And bachata is completely danced close to each other, this is a sensual dance. You definitely won’t get off the beat,” Prudencio instructs.

Merengue and bachata sound, perhaps, from every courtyard, window, door of Santo Domingo. Dance clubs everywhere. There are elite: spacious multi-tiered halls with expensive bars, a stage, laser installations. There are "folk": gloomy little rooms on the first floors of peeling houses from the time of Columbus. A white-haired old man, dark as the night sky, runs out of one such room, grabs my arm and pulls me inside, into a cloud of cigar smoke.

- Don't be afraid! laughs Prudencio. He wants to dance with you. It's Friday. All the people are having fun!

Alas, I can't dance merengue or bachata.

Secret of Mamahuana

- Step with the right foot. Left step. Farther. Nearer. Turn. Uno, dos, tres, cuatro! - the animator teaches me at the Paradisus hotel in Punta Cana.

Punta Cana is a resort for foreigners. Almost all local residents work in the tourism industry. Dancing mostly in hotels. In Bahia Principe , for example, almost the entire staff, led by the director, starts dancing when tourists stop by. They sing a song of their own composition in the merengue rhythm: “This is Bahia Principe - a hotel!” Almost every hotel in Punta Cana hosts dance master classes in the evenings. Dominican businessmen believe that a hotel without merengue and bachata will lose to competitors.

I try to follow my teacher's steps. But I lack lightness, looseness, a sense of rhythm.

- So drink mamajuana! the dancer advises.

Mamajuana is a Dominican alcoholic drink. It is prepared from rum, red wine, tree bark, various herbs, roots and spices. According to the most common version, pot-bellied wicker bottles with a narrow neck were previously called mamahuana. They kept tincture. The locals are sure: mamahuana excites and invigorates. In addition, the national drink, like merengue, is associated with freedom and equality: mass production of mamajuana was established only after the death of Trujillo.

I knock over a glass. And now it seems that the merengue rhythm already coincides with my pulse.

A precocious porter in a black uniform jumps onto the dance floor, with which he almost blends in. He snatches a tourist from a group of spectators - a grand lady in diamonds. She leaves her bored husband with a glass of mamajuana and goes dancing with a smile.

“Dancing makes people happy,” Dominicans say. And all people are happy the same way. Regardless of origin, skin color and social status.


Dominican Republic

Area 48,670 km² (128th in the world)
Population 10,535,000 (86th)
Population density 216 inhabitants/km²
Capital Santo Domingo

SIGHTSEEING National park with three lakes Los Tres Ojos , 16th century limestone cathedral facade of Saint Mary Amber Museum in Santo Domingo.
TRADITIONAL DISHES yucca root casabe tortillas, tostones banana chips, puerco en puya baked pork.
TRADITIONAL DRINKS Dominican coffee, rum, mamajuana.
SOUVENIRS doll without a face Lime - a symbol of the equality of nations and races, jewelry made of larimar - a semi-precious blue stone ("Dominican turquoise").

Learn more