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A man by the name of Alfonseca created the Merengue around 1844 but it was not very popular at the time. The Basic instruments used where the Tambora, the Guira and a Guitar. Without a doubt, the Merengue has for long identified Dominicans like no other cultural expression. Dominicans borrowed melodic chords from Africa, Europe and the rest of the Caribbean basin to create their own musical style. As time passed, this very local musical expression began to reach the international scene.

The merengue is basically music to dance to. Nowadays, it combines three very special elements to produce this original sound: drums from Africa, maracas from the local Taino Indians and the Spanish guitar. Much later, the bass sound was introduced, and it also received plenty of influence from jazz.

Most local musical historians believe that Spain originally influenced the basic melodic line of the Merengue, although a strong African influence is also present. That is why its rhythm immediately invites you to dance, and to swing your hips and waist from one side to the other.

The most popular Merengue bands in the Dominican Republic are Juan de Dios Ventura Soriano known as (Johnny Ventura), Fernando Villalona, Los Toros Band, La Banda Gorda, Eddy Herrera, Los Hermanos Rosario, and Tono Rosario among others.
Juan Luis Guerra is by far today's most important composer and interpreter. His music has won him international recognition through the hundreds of thousands of records sold overseas. His extremely popular live concerts, in the Americas and Europe, have also been crucial in his popularity. But Merengue also lives in the hundreds of bands, musical groups and singers who make their living by spreading the typical music of the Dominican Republic.

A step of Merengue.

On weekends dancing to their music in local discos and in open-air dance halls is a strong tradition among Dominicans, who find in the Merengue a very particular way to express their joy of living or favorite way to forget their woes. The more traditional Merengue is also very popular in the more popular neighborhoods, especially in the countryside.

Dancing Merengue in Traditional dress

The one of the most popular images of the Merengue dancers is the one that shows a woman dancing with a long, wide colorful flowing dress. But if you want to dance the Merengue, you do not need to dress up in traditional clothes. Just put on some comfortably loose clothes, go to one of the city's must popular discos and leave your old dancing habits in your hotel room.
The Merengue festival, organized by the Ministry of Tourism, is celebrated in July. It takes place on George Washington Avenue, the seaside-boulevard known as El Malecon that lines the city of Santo Domingo to the south. Every day, for an entire week, the country's must popular bands play. Once they start playing, the Malecon becomes the city's largest open-air disco. Join in and dance along.

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© World INvestment NEws, 2002.
This is the electronic edition of the special country report on Dominican Republic published in Forbes Global .
April 15th, 2002 Issue.
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