Merengue. Two beats, two steps. Gotta love it! Merengue is the national dance of the Dominican Republic. If you’re looking to learn a fun easy dance, it’s gotta be Merengue. The basic step is a move to the side followed by sort of dragging the other foot together to close the feet. Repeat.
This simple dance has humble beginnings. Here are two versions of how it came to be.
One tale has Dominican slaves bound together by the ankles. Singing as they worked, they were forced to step and drag their feet along.
Another story tells of a war hero who returns to his village. He’d been injured and was left with a limp. The townspeople honored his arrival with a celebration. However, not wanting him to be embarrassed by his injury, the whole village dances with a slight limp.
Wondering if Merengue is for you?
If you feel like you’re too stiff when you dance, then it’s def for you.
Because it’s such a fun easy dance, you’ll pick up the steps very quickly. So, why not put some thought into how you’re moving your body? It can take you from ‘the robot dance’ to Suavemente in a minute.
All of the Latin dances use the hip action called Latin or Cuban motion. Since Merengue is such a straightforward dance, you can begin to focus a bit on the way you bend and straighten your knees. That’s how you get hip action. The result is an expressive body movement that will make you look and feel better when you dance.
If you want to see some authentic hip action, check out these skeletons dancing Merengue. (Really, click on the link…it’s very cool!)
Here’s another reason to learn Merengue.
Because the basics of this simple dance are so easy to pick up, you’ll be getting into underarm turns, spins, and other variations very quickly.
If you’re a leader, the way you lead turns and spins is the same for all the dances. A follower will practice responding to the signals and add feminine style. Of course, both will be keeping the rhythm as they dance.
Finally, because it’s a fun easy dance to lead or follow, Merengue is a good dance to keep in your ‘back pocket’.
The dance that you keep in your ‘back pocket’ is the one that you do with people who don’t know how to dance. For example, let’s say you’re at a wedding. You’re dancing and having a ball when the bride’s grandmother comes over and says, “You’re a great dancer. Will you dance with me?” “Of course,” you say as you take her hand and lead her to the floor.
The DJ is playing a Hustle. You know, “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang. Because you’re not sure if she does the Hustle, you decide to go with your favorite fun easy dance. And, to be sure, it’s gonna be Merengue.
She’s doing fine so you try an underarm turn. Nice and slow, keeping the beat. One-two, one-two. After a few more turns, the song is over and Grandma is delighted. She thinks she just had a dance with Fred Astaire!
By the way, when you have the desire to become an accomplished ballroom dancer, I hope you’ll visit the Dance Safari post, “Become a Better Ballroom Dancer Using 5 Ridiculously Simple Tips“.
If you just go with the music, these moves will fit with any song. Therefore, regardless of your partner’s dance skills, you can still get on the floor and have a good time together. As long as you just K.I.S.S. Go ahead, give Merengue a try and you’ll be dancing all night long!