The Merengue originates from the Dominican Republic. It is very similar to Méringue, which is popular in Haiti.
The dance was made the official music and dance of the Dominican Republic by Rafael Trujillo, who coincidently had a Haitian grandmother.
Today the Merengue is danced in couples, holding each other in a closed position.
The man holds his right hand between the shoulder blades of the woman. With his left hand he hold the right had of the woman at eye level. This is similar to the dance position of salsa and Cha cha cha.
The Merengue is a two-step beat requiring both dancers to bend their knees slightly, one knee after another. This movement will automatically make the hips move left and right. The woman mirrors the movement of the man.
Partners may walk sideways or circular, using small
steps. They can further switch to a double handhold position and do
separate turns without letting go of each other's hands. Or the men
releases one hand and turns the lady with the other hand. In fact,
almost any choreography is possible as long as the basic Merengue-step
There are two popular versions of the origin of this dance. The first story alleges the dance originated from the slaves who were chained together. They were forced to drag one leg as they cut sugar to the beat of drums.
The second story alleges that a great hero was wounded in the leg during one of the many revolutions in the Dominican Republic.
The villagers welcomed him home with a victory celebration. Out of respect, everyone dancing felt obliged to limp and drag one foot.