Why Does Merengue Get a Bad Rap?

pygmalion

Well-Known Member
#1
I've been out on the web the past couple days, looking for info on bachata. While I was out there, I found numerous references to merengue, "the national dance of the Dominican Republic." A lot of flattering references, actually, from a cultural perspective.

Yet, when I go out to dance salsa, I invariably find people sitting out the merengues at best, and at worst, making fun.

What's this all about? Is there a cultural divide going on here? Why does merengue have such a bad rep? Is it deserved? Or do salsa people just not understand? :wink: :D
 
#2
Well, one perspective could be just the focus at that time. When die-hard salsa dancers go to "Salsa" clubs, that's all they really want at that time. They don't necessary dislike Merengue, they just want to dance Salsa "at that particular time". I have a good collection of Merengue and I really love the music but when I'm at a Salsa club, that's all I really want to do. Just one view, any others? :D

Edit: Now, when I'm in the mood for Merengue, I like to dance with my "special someone". Why? I don't know really. It just seems like a more intimate dance to me and that's when I want to be/dance with my special someone only. :tongue: 8)
 

MacMoto

Active Member
#3
pygmalion said:
Yet, when I go out to dance salsa, I invariably find people sitting out the merengues at best, and at worst, making fun.

What's this all about? Is there a cultural divide going on here? Why does merengue have such a bad rep? Is it deserved? Or do salsa people just not understand? :wink: :D
According to this article,
http://www.tosalsa.com/forum/articles/article011130alfieorta_salsavsmerengue.htm]Salsa vs. Merengue[/url]
http://www.tosalsa.com/goto.asp?htt...es/article011130alfieorta_salsavsmerengue.htm
it's because salsa dancers just don't know how to dance merengue...

I don't sit out merengue songs -- there were even times when I did't hit off well with a leader when dancing salsa but had great fun with merengue.
Having said that, especially where music is concerned, I must admit I definitely prefer salsa. (Then again, if it's a choice between merengue and bachata, I'd go for merengue any time -- I don't know why, but bachata music doesn't do anything for me...)
 

Vince A

Active Member
#4
pygmalion said:
What's this all about? Is there a cultural divide going on here? Why does merengue have such a bad rep? Is it deserved? Or do salsa people just not understand? :wink: :D
I've noticed that too!

Maybe the hard-core salseros think that the merengue is TOO EASY to do? Maybe not manly enough for them??? I don't know.

Granted the footwork is fairly easy, but the arms and body language looks pretty intriguing to me. I learned it by walking out on the dance floor beside a couple that was doing it, and copied their every move - to an extent!

I like the look of the dance . . . and maybe that's due in part that I'm just a rookie at Salsa.

Maybe Jonathan, Eric, Fernando, or Javier will give up the truth behind this. "Readers want to know."
 
#5
Merengue was, is and always will be my first love in latin music.

It's fun, it's energetic and the older stuff definately has a lot of soul.

I think the problem is in the newer music, unless you're from the DR
or unless you grow up in places like Spanish Harlem or the Bronx, you
just won't get the lyrics...of course a lot of the lyrics are pretty crazy
but I think that it all has to do with the culture and mentality of the
people...

In merengue you'll have a song that is very politically centered, but
at the same time very humorous...

As far as the dance and it being "easy"...

...I challenge anyone who thinks this to dance next to me and have
the crowd decide who's the better dancer...

Not that I'm the greatest dancer on the planet, but in Merengue there
are a lot of subtle movements that make it a smooth and enjoyable
dance...the thing is that it looks so easy and the mainstream way of
dancing now is so far from what Merengue is really about, that many
people under-estimate it.

Salsa is definately a more complex dance and music, but trust me
there is beauty in simplicity...and what seems simple to do, is not
always "simple to do"...
 
#6
Although I vastly prefer salsa to merengue, I still dance a lot merengue.

They are very different musically. I don't think it's necessary to look beyond that for an explanation of why some people who love salsa hate merengue.

I have been told by a Puerto Rican salsera (who also takes an interest in Dominican forms) that there's a lot of merengue that doesn't get played in clubs, that she considers to be superior to what gets played. I got the impression from her that the same goes for bachata, but even moreso.
 
#7
I think there are a fair number of Dominicans who like merengue but prefer to sit out the salsa songs. So I have heard. (This despite the fact that the DR has produced at least some very good salsa.)
 
#8
To be honest i find most of the merengues that are played quite boring, they just do not inspire me to dance. Of course there are salsa tunes i do not like too.. :wink:
 

Vince A

Active Member
#9
salsarhythms said:
As far as the dance and it being "easy"...

...I challenge anyone who thinks this to dance next to me and have
the crowd decide who's the better dancer...
Whoa, easy . . . I wasn't knocking the dance . . .

I "only" said I thought it was easy (the footwork) and I "copied" the moves . . . I didn't say what I looked like as I was doing either of them . . .

I personally think it a very beautiful dance, and it needs the recognition that it so deserves . . .
 
#10
salsarhythms said:
As far as the dance and it being "easy"...

Salsa is definately a more complex dance and music, but trust me
there is beauty in simplicity...and what seems simple to do, is not
always "simple to do"...
Right, there is alot more to Merengue than just the 1, 2 step. Not everybody can do it. At least not around me. :lol:
 
#11
HothouseSalsero said:
........there's a lot of merengue that doesn't get played in clubs, that she considers to be superior to what gets played. I got the impression from her that the same goes for bachata, but even moreso.
Yeah, I know people who think salsa is only done by Marc Anthony and merengue is new and is only done by Elvis Crespo. Not that either artist is bad but there is alot more that we don't hear on the radio or in clubs. so if you hear the same three songs all the time, that will probably contribute to listener being turned off by it.
 
#12
LOL Vince...

I was not saying that to you personally...LOL

I'm sorry if you took it that way...

What I was saying is that there are many people that do feel that
way and knock it, but it is not as easy as it may seem...

Again, I'm sorry if you took that as directed to you... :D
 
#13
pygmalion said:
What's this all about? Is there a cultural divide going on here? Why does merengue have such a bad rep? Is it deserved? Or do salsa people just not understand? :wink: :D
Here is my take on it, I'm with Fernando on this. There aren't many who can dance a merengue like I can.

I can't stand new style merengue. However, if you are to play old school merengue I'll gladly get up and dance. Sadly, the type of merengue that gets to mainstream airways isn't, by any means, good (IMHO).

I don’t think there is a cultural division, for in PR people dance more merengue than do salsa. The division with me comes from getting into salsa, not only as a dancer but as a lifestyle. I love my lady so much that the flair of another hottie doesn't even distract me, I don't even care to be part of it. If it happens to go on while I'm dancing, I simply say, thank you but I'm "taken", and sit down. I find so much fulfillment in salsa that the fulfillment merengue carries just isn't enough to suffice what I expect from my lady. Regardless of how great others see their women, their ladies just aren’t like mine, hence my willingness not to only turn my check but to tune them off as well.

Now, I happen to know for a fact that the simplicity of merengue is what rushes many salsa dancers away from the dance floor. They are so used to a different level of listening and dancing that the change is like going back to addition after you’ve learned calculus. I have a great bunch of Dominican friends who now don’t even listen to their long-forgotten-passion; merengue. And their reason is… simplicity of the music.

On top of that, merengue lyrics have changed, they went from socio-cultural implications to bad singers screaming about nothing worth listening to, despite how catchy they might sound after you've heard them twice, their rhythm becomes monotonous, and the least you want to do is listen to them. My idea of fun really isn’t anything these songs put forth, hence I find them boring when others claim greatness. Sadly, I think merengue, just like salsa, went through changes that were nothing but, musically speaking, bad for the music.

In all the rep is deserved depending on what side of the fence we are looking from.
 

Sagitta

Well-Known Member
#14
There are quite a few merengues that I don't particular like but dance to as my gf does or there are newbies who like doing it. It does seem that a lot of people like the techno new-style merengue with the driving clear beat. Not particularly my favorite. And from my pat experience a lot of people find merengue difficult, so yes it isn't as easy as it may seem.
 
#15
Absolutely the music is much simpler than a salsa, but also the newer
stuff is just not there for me...

Some artists are keeping it alive, but the mainstream stuff on the
airwaves is not what merengue is all about...
 

Vince A

Active Member
#16
salsarhythms said:
LOL Vince...

I was not saying that to you personally...LOL

I'm sorry if you took it that way...

What I was saying is that there are many people that do feel that
way and knock it, but it is not as easy as it may seem...

Again, I'm sorry if you took that as directed to you... :D
Phew! Thanks Fernando . . . I thought I had said something terribly wrong :oops:
 
#17
salsarhythms said:
Absolutely the music is much simpler than a salsa, but also the newer
stuff is just not there for me...

Some artists are keeping it alive, but the mainstream stuff on the
airwaves is not what merengue is all about...
I have a CD called Merengues Perdidos... Wow, what great stuff on that CD. My only merengue CD.. :D
 
#20
Hey Hothouse...

Your lady friend is right, a lot of what is played is not even close
in music as what is not being played...

I guess it's because the newer stuff appeals to a younger crowd...
Not sure...

But man, I'll take a Perico Ripiao (form of Merengue) any day over
the new stuff that's out there now...
 

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