The Merengue is the national dance of the Dominican Republic. There was a Republic soldier who was wounded in one leg, was at a social dancing event, and could only shuffle sideways in a pronounced limp dance style.  Other patrons not wishing to offend the hero, copied the soldiers movements.  Another story tells of Dominican shackled slaves working in sugar cane fields cutting down sugar cane.  As they walked down the rows they had to take small side steps to cut down the sugar cane because of the shackles.  However this dance came to be, it became very popular in the Dominican Republic in the mid 1800′s.  It is not known when the dance actually came to the US, but it has enjoyed constant success for many years.

The Merengue is a fun and probably the easiest dance to learn.  Its basic movement is made up of simple side steps that progress in a counter-clockwise direction around the floor.  It involves various turning movements and changes of rhythm can be used.  It can be danced with a strong Cuban Motion which is good for beginning students that are being introduced to this style of hip motion.
The Merengue is danced in 2/4 timing, the music has two clear even beats to the bar that are played in a marching rhythm.  Different styles allow for a various number of beats within each part of the bar.