Merengue tipico — the folkloric and original genre of merengue — is the essence of being Dominican.Or as it’s said in Spanish, “el merengue es la esencia de la dominicanidad.”
Most of us in North America know about merengue and associate it immediately with the Dominican Republic. We have danced and twirled to it at friends’ parties or in nightclubs. Here in the DR, this national music and dance echoes every day across cities and villages in its various forms, from folkloric to modern. It blasts from backyards, supermarkets, or neighborhood colmados (corner store-slash-bars). The instruments, to start–the drums (Africa), the accordion (Europe) and the guira (Taino)–reflect the mixed heritage of Dominicans, which they themselves are happy to point out.
Beyond the musical symbols, the sheer energy and joy of merengueros, and the meaningful lyrics of love and life’s tribulations, reflect the spirit of the people. Dominicans have this incredible resilience and the ability to remain grateful in spite of their adversities. Of being in the now. Of not worrying about tomorrow because it’s out of your control. Bailar and gozar are key words in the Dominican vocabulary. Hay que bailar y gozar. You must dance and enjoy yourself.
All of these elements and energy were in full display last Sunday, at the second annual Festival del Merengue Tipico in the small town of Guananico, in the heart of the Puerto Plata province. Guananico is considered as one of the birthplaces of merengue, where generations of musicians were born and continue to live, passing on the merengue traditions.
Organized by the UMCP, a local cooperative based in Puerto Plata, and sponsored by Ron Macorix (bravo to these two for making the event possible), it was a real cultural treat listening to the likes of Facundo Pena and other merengue tipico legends at the festival and feeling the crowd’s energy… and of course, dancing all night long.
Here is a two-minute video I put together, highlighting the best moments of the night. Make sure you select the HD version.
I will have more to come on merengue tipico in the near future, and details on where to enjoy, learn and immerse in all things Dominican music in my first edition of Moon Dominican Republic.
Note: The above images are from my iPhone6. My Mac is currently being serviced so I won’t be able to process my camera images until I get it back in a couple of weeks (fingers crossed).