History of Merengue
The Merengue is the national dance of the Dominican Republic, and also to some extent, of Haiti (in Haiti, a similar dance is known as the Meringue). About the Merengue origin there are two popular versions. One of these stories says the dance originated with slaves who were chained together, they had to cut sugar to the beat of drums and forced to drag one leg. The second story says that a Great War hero was wounded in the leg during one of the several revolutions in the Dominican Republic. He was welcomed home with a victory celebration and, out of consideration, everyone dancing felt obligated to limp and drag one foot.
Merengue is a mix of two dances, the African and the French Minuet, from the late 1700's - early 1800's. The original Merengue was a circle dance; each man and woman faced each other and holding hands - at arm's length. They did not hold each other closely and the original movements of this dance consisted only shaking of the shoulders and quick movement of the feet. The native African dances do not move the hips, and the Merengue dance was no blatant movement of the hips like there is today. In fact, the characteristic of African dances, as well as other Indigenous dances throughout the world, consist of complicated steps and arm movements.
Maybe the dance took its name from the preparation made of sugar and egg whites because of the light and frothy nature of the dance or because of its short, precise rhythms.
By the middle of the nineteenth century, in the Dominican Republic, the Merengue was very popular, and it was used on every dancing occasion. The Merengue dance was not only popular in Republic but also throughout the Caribbean and South America, and is one of the most popular Latin dances.
The Merengue was first introduced in the United States in the New York area. However, it did not become popular until many years later.
A brief history of some styles of dance: