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The Merengue

                The Merengue has existed since the early years of the Dominican Republic around the time of the Spanish-American War (1898,) as well as in Haiti and was written about in the mid 1800s. The dance comes from the Upa Music (Urpa Dance) of Havana around 1840 which featured a part called "Méringue."

    Colonel Alfonseca is reported with developing the Merengue and was supposedly created from a great Talanquera Battle (this is a myth). The Merengue is sometimes called the "Palm Beach One Step" or "Pambiche" (1916). A slower and fewer syncopated version was being called the "Jaun Ester" in Puerto Plata, while later being called the 'Pambiche'. The Merengue has roots in the Spanish "Jaleo."

    The original dance was fast & agitated, while the newer (1950's & up) ballroom version being much slower and uses more hip movements. The Merengue was not introduced to the United States till about 1950 and had seen some acceptance and popularity. (Craze Magazine [1957] reported that "the Fred Astaire dance studios were teaching the 'New' Haitian Merengue ?).

There are two folk stories as to the style of the dance.
    1) Slaves, who were chained together by the ankles would use this "walking style" as they cut sugar cane to the beat of the drums (this has merit).
    2) A great hero, (sometimes said a King or General) was wounded in action, and upon his return a great party was thrown in his honor. This hero/king loved to dance and tried to dance at the party but was not able with his wounded leg, the best he could do was limp and drag his wounded leg through the dance, so the dancers feeling sorry for him and not wanting to offend, limped and dragged one foot to the beat just as he did (popular story but sounds fictional.)

    The basic step is just a walk ie: 1-2,1-2 etcetera, just walk in a marching type walk to each beat of music. There are many patterns that can be done in the Merengue however today it has become almost Salsa-ish with sometimes a hint of Lambada and freaking. The "merengue confection" used in pies and such (deserts) has been said to be the source of the name on occasion.
More To Come!


Birth Place

Creation Date


Dance Type

Haiti 1840's ?Colonel Alfonseca? Latin

Posters, Lobby Cards etc.

Sheet Music Covers

Music Titles

n/a The Merry Merengue 1905 - The Merango / El Meringue ( J. Johnson)
    Compadre Pedro Juan (Alberti)
    El que no tiene dos pesos no baila (Alfonseca)
    El sancocho (Alfonseca)
    Merry Merengue
    No Me Digas Que No - La Makina (Clip)
    Scherzo Merengue [MP3] (Thad Wheeler)
    Sol En Merengue [MP3] (Louise Bessette)
    1997 - Merengue Mania [CD]
    2000 - Best of Salsa Merengue [CD]
    2000 - Mucho Merengue [CD]
    2001 - Rough Guide to Merengue & Bachata [CD]
    2002 - Merengue Hits [CD]
    2002 - Merengue En La Calle Ocho [CD]
    Free Music Downloads
    "Merengue" [MP3]
    "Dame de ti" [MP3] (Merengue version)

Night Clubs



n/a n/a Cibao
            Dominican Republic
            Puerto Rico
            United States

Films / Movies



Dirty Dancing - Havana Nights n/a n/a
1995 - Manhattan Merengue [DVD]        
2003 - Fiesta 3 Party (Sensual Sensations II) [DVD]        




Salsa & Merengue 1-2-3 [DVD] (Neglia)
      10/1957 - Craze Magazine
Learn Salsa & Merengue in Minutes [DVD] (Pozo)       6/1989 - Dance Action Mag.

Other Dances of the time...

Apambichao Conga Jaun Ester Pambiche Sequidilla
Bolero Habanera Mambo Paso-Doble Tumba
Bossa-Nova Jaleo Pachanga Rumba Upa (Urpa)
Cha-Cha Juajida (One Step) Palm Beach One-Step Samba Urpa?

Dancers, Choreographers etc.


n/a n/a Rafael L. Trujillo Molina (1891-1960)
    Ulises Francisco Espaillat (1823-1878)

Books, Magazine Articles on the dance...

Title Author Date Published Publisher
History Of Ballroom Dancing Stephenson 1980 Doubleday
Dance Action Magazine Conrad, Tod 6/1989 FanFlair Ent.
$ Merengue: Dominican Music & Dominican Identity Austerlitz, Paul 1996 Temple Univ Press
$ Mambo y Merengue - Bailes de Salon Bottomer, Paul 2000 Susaeta




Song Writers

Johnson, [John] Rosamond n/a n/a n/a
Juan Espínola            
Juan F. García            
Juan Luis Guerra            
Julio Alberto Hernandez            
Luis ALberti            
Torio Abreu            

Misc. Research Words that may be related ... to help your searches

Apambichao Copla Latin dance Salsa
Bachata Cuban Upa Style merengue de salón (Ballroom Version) Tambora
Baddurrias Lambada Pambiche  
Merengue Web Links
Merengue 1 Urpa?    
(6/8) & (2/4) TIME
March 24, 2013

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