It's been quite a while since I last danced the Merengue so when Eric Tan of Classic Dancesport said that he was starting a Merengue class at the Kuala Lumpur Dancers' Association (KLDA) on Friday evenings, I took the opportunity to join the class as a sort of refresher and also for the fun of it. The Merengue is a happy and lively dance and is one of the easiest social dances to learn. Because of its simple rhythmic structure, the Merengue is a dance you can dance immediately the first time you learn it. It is the national dance of both the Dominican Republic and Haiti and is very popular in the Caribbean and South America. Dominican immigrants to the United States in the early twentieth century also helped to spread the popularity of the dance in the USA.
The commonly used time signature for the Meringue is 4/4, meaning there are 4 beats in a bar of music. The tempo can be very fast, up to 40 bars per minute but it is normally played at 29 - 32 bars per minute. Depending on the figures, the Merengue can be danced in closed position with the man's right leg in between the lady's legs, or in open position. A dance step is taken on each beat of music. Although the tempo may be fast, the upper body is kept upright and stately and figures are usually danced to four-beat counts. Partners may walk sideways, forward & back or circle each other in small steps. Variations include body drops, underarm turns, alternate underarm turns and the more advanced and intricate moves like the double-hand turns & pretzels.
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