The music has 2 beats to the bar and about 63 bars per minute. Count 1, 2 (SS) per bar for most step groups or figures. Each bar usually contains a small step-close or a rock-step.

As with other latin dances, the close hold is looser than for ballroom. Most steps are inline but there are also underarm turns and a rock-step to promenade position.

The style of Merengue is a little different to other Latin dances. Instead of a bounce, sway or the usual rolled hip action it has a delayed hip action. A step is taken on the ball of the foot, with bent knee and without weight - leaving the hip behind over the supporting foot. The heel is only lowered and weight transferred (along with the hip action) when the other foot is closed to the first. The other heel is only lowered and weight transferred back when the heel of the first foot is released ready to step out again.


The basic movement is a small step-close sideways, forwards or backwards using either foot. The last close in one direction may be without weight and the same foot used again to change direction. Usually 4 step-closes are taken in a direction before changing. It is probably sensible to stick to using the left foot first when going forwards and the right when going backwards. Side-closes can be used to turn gradually round a corner.

Sideways Basics along LOD (FP, CH) Sideways Basics against LOD (FP, CH)
Beat 1 (S) 2 (S) 1 (S) 2 (S) 1 (S) 2 (S) 1 (S) 2 (S)
Man LS RC LS RC tap RS LC RS LC tap
Lady RS LC RS LC tap LS RC LS RC tap

Forwards Basics to wall (FP, CH) Backwards Basics to centre (FP, CH)
Beat 1 (S) 2 (S) 1 (S) 2 (S) 1 (S) 2 (S) 1 (S) 2 (S)
Man LF RC LF RC tap RB LC RB LC tap
Lady RB LC RB LC tap LF RC LF RC tap

Basics with Rock-Step

This mini-sequence is only used in one direction and the rock-step conventionally replaces the 3rd side-close. It is like the West Coast Swing basic but with an additional side-close. The whole thing might be danced twice in succession.

Basics with Rock-Step (FP-PP-FP, CH)
Beat 1 (S) 2 (S) 1 (S) 2 (S) 1 (S) 2 (S) 1 (S) 2 (S)

Alemanas / Underarm Turns

Underarm turns can be danced in either direction. The man raises the linked arms and dances 2 side-closes while leading the lady to turn underneath (she may complete it faster than shown). It is more common to dance 2 turns in the same direction than to immediately reverse.

Natural Alemana (FP-SFP-FP, LRH) Reverse Alemana (FP-SFP-FP, LRH)
Beat 1 (S) 2 (S) 1 (S) 2 (S) 1 (S) 2 (S) 1 (S) 2 (S)
Man LS RC LS RC tap RS LC RS LC tap
Lady RSF+2 LFC+2 RXB+2 LC+2 tap LSF-2 RFC-2 LXB-2 RC-2 tap

© Susan Foord ( 2010-07-24
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