Caribbean destinations have many attractions to offer visitors who come to these islands and both the music and the dancing are not the least of them. The Dominican Republic is a real world power in this sense, and when dancing in Saint Dominic becomes an almost obligatory matter.
But merengue and bachata, which are surely the island’s most popular dances (and the favourites of many people around the globe), are much more than that. They are two musical styles deeply rooted in the local culture.
In this article we are going to talk a little about the origins and characteristics of these two musical styles, their importance in the Dominican Republic and, of course, tell you where to dance in Saint Dominic until you cannot dance anymore.
TRAVELER TIP: Of course, in the Dominican Republic there is much more than music and dance. If you want to dive into its culture, its heritage and its gastronomy, we have an article for you: 5 things to do in Saint Dominic.
Merengue, the Dominican national music
Although its genesis is dark, it seems clear that merengue originated in the Dominican Republic, more specifically in the Cibao, in the north of the island, at the end of the 19th century; when the guitar was replaced by the accordion (with the güira and the tambora as companions), we can say that the genre emerged.
Well, actually one of them came up, because there are several subgenres of merengue in the Dominican Republic. Folk merengue, also called “perico ripiao”, was soon modified and introduced in cities such as ” merengue de salón”, with other more complex instrumentation (big bands) and cleaner lyrics.
Strangely enough, much of the merengue’s success is due to the bloodthirsty island dictator Rafael Trujillo, who promoted this popular music as a highly effective propaganda element. After his death, different musicians (such as Johnny Ventura, Félix del Rosario or the mythical Joseíto Mateo) simplified the rhythm and dance, with much freer lyrics.
When everyone is dancing merengue in the Dominican Republic that is when the leap is made to the rest of Latin America and especially to the Dominican colony of New York, from where it will spread through North America and Europe very quickly. In 2016, UNESCO declared this music and dance as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Bachata, the sensual sadness of the marginalised clases
To speak of bachata in the Dominican Republic sixty years ago was to speak of ” bitterness “, of ” the bolero of guitar “, of depressing music typical of marginalised environments, with lyrics always centred on the lack of love. The same term refers to a disorderly and alcoholic party.
When merengue became hegemonic among all Dominican social classes, bachata, sad and sensual, came to fill the need for expression of the underprivileged; a story that is reminiscent of other styles, such as tango.
With José Manuel Calderón as pioneer and Radio Guarachita as its flagship, bachata from the Dominican Republic was refined in the 1980s, with better musical and lyrical quality, starting with the two lines that would later produce results: “bachata rosa” and “tecnoamargue”.
Today, with a high musical richness and a complex dance style full of nuances, there is no dancing place in Saint Dominic that does not have bachata as one of the cornerstones of its success. Everyone has been dancing bachata in Saint Dominic and the rest of the world for twenty years and no one seems to want to stop.
The best places to dance in Saint Dominic
Well, that’s enough chattering, let’s dance! Here’s an overview of Dominican music and nightlife. Surely in some of these places you can indulge your desire to dance…
First, let us introduce you to the best places to dance merengue in Saint Dominic:
- Merengue Club. With that name there is no room for doubt, here they take merengue very seriously. Besides, the place is nice and the service is excellent. Hostos 156.
- Ferro Café. A very small place with live music played by the first blades of the genre. Not to be missed. Manuel de Jesús Troncoso esq. Roberto Pastoriza.
- Afrika Club. Although here you can listen to music from all over the Latin universe, it has specialised in the so-called “merengue de calle”. Are you up for it? Narrators 41.
If that’s not enough for you, these are great places to dance bachata in Saint Dominic:
- El Sartén. Although all kinds of Latin music are played and danced here, it had to be on the list because of its great atmosphere and good service. Hostos 153.
- The Musical Secret. A classic site among the classics in a popular neighbourhood; old bachatas, old decoration, authentic clientele. Baltazara de los Reyes esq. Pimentel.
- Rox Bar&Lounge. It’s not on the list for tourists and rightly so. If you want to experience a real dance hall by and for Dominicans, come here. Atarazana 11.
You already have a couple of clues about where to dance in Saint Dominic; bachata, merengue and whatever is thrown at you. If you want to suggest any other options, go ahead, leave us a comment!
And if you want to focus on enjoying music and dancing, you can contact us to take care of everything else, from helping you with the last details to completely planning your next vacation to the Dominican Republic. And for a very reasonable price!
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