The Merengue is the national dance of the Dominican Republic and, to some extent, its island-sharing neighbour, Haiti. Merengue has existed since the early years of the Dominican Republic, around the time of the Spanish-American War (1898).
There are many versions and interpretations of the origins of Merengue. Two of the more popular explanations of its origins are the following: one, is that the dance originated with slaves who were chained together and, of necessity, were forced to drag one leg as they cut sugar to the beat of drums. The second version claims that a great hero was wounded in the leg during one of the many revolutions in the Dominican Republic. A party of villagers welcomed him home with a victory celebration and, out of sympathy, everyone dancing felt obliged to limp and drag one foot.
Like most modern music, Merengue is written in 4/4 time (4 beats to a bar of music, and therefore four dance steps to a bar of music). In Merengue you move on every beat.
Merengue is very popular throughout the Caribbean and South America, and is one of the standard Latin American/Caribbean dances. Merengue is essentially a "fun" dance that is easy to learn and is ideally suited to the small, crowded dance floor