Dominican Merengue Inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

merengue musicians - Photo courtesy of Ministerio de Cultura de República Dominicana
merengue musicians – Photo courtesy of Ministerio de Cultura de República Dominicana

Today, November 30, 2016, UNESCO announced that Dominican merengue music and dance was inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The merengue is considered part of the national identity of the Dominican Republic. It is present in people’s daily lives – from their education to social gatherings and celebrations, and even political campaigning.

In 2005, merengue was recognized by presidential decree with November 26 declared National Merengue Day. Merengue festivals are held in cities in the Dominican Republic like Santo Domingo and Puerto Plata every year.

Danced in couples, flirtatious gestures are used as participants move in circles to the rhythm of music played on instruments such as the accordion, drum and saxophone. It is a dance that is usually introduced to learners at an early age.

Knowledge and skills on the practice are transmitted through observation, participation and imitation. The merengue attracts people of different social classes, which helps to promote respect and coexistence among individuals, groups and communities.

The north of the country is considered to be the cradle of merengue with the area of influence extending to Puerto Rico, the United States of America and the Caribbean region.

The merengue is also popular in other Latin American countries such as Venezuela and Colombia where variations have emerged, and countries in Central America.

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.

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