Merengue is the dominant dance music in the Dominican Republic and can be heard throughout the island. Passionate and full of energy, it’s a joy to listen to and there’s sheer pleasure to be had in watching the locals show you how it's done when it comes to dancing.
Combining African rhythms and the traditional French minuet, the dance is characterised by the dragging of one foot behind the other, either symbolising chained slaves are an injured hero from a long gone revolution – both stories have their supporters.
Merengue is a fast two-step dance using either a 2-4 or 4-4 beat pattern and is traditionally played with four instruments: a two-headed drum called a tambora, a melodeon (very much like an accordion), guitar, and güira which is a metal instrument scraped with a rod.
Of course, times move on and merengue has been incorporated by orchestras, hip hop artists and synthesizer bands. Whatever the instruments used, you’ll still recognise its distinctive sound and beats.
If you’re in the Dominican Republic on November 26 then get ready for National Merengue Day and festivals held across the island. It's an experience not to be missed.