MERENGUE, BACHATA & MORE
Dominicans are excellent musicians and famous dancers. Whatever your destination, along the way you will be accompanied by Dominican music and rhythms. The sounds and instruments of the Dominican Republic come from different cultures, a mixture that goes from West Africa to Spain. Merengue and Bachata are the two genres that most represent the Dominican soul and culture. However, Son and many other contemporary sounds are also widespread, such as jazz, rock and dembow, a form of Dancehall Reggae.
The Merengue declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2016 is the Dominican national dance. The instruments, used in the merengue, reflect the triple identity of the Dominican Republic: the accordion of Spanish origin, the güira, of Taino origin, is a cylinder of perforated metal, which is struck or scraped with a stick and finally the tambora, a drum of African origin. The lyrics, on the other hand, speak of moments of celebration and daily life. Many merengue performers such as Juan Luis Guerra, Milly Quezada and others have international fame.
Bachata is a dance known both in the Dominican Republic and in other countries. Born from the bolero, it was considered the music of the poorer classes and only when bachata reached high levels of refinement, both in music and in lyrics, was adopted by all social categories. Bachata was popularized to the masses by Rafael Encarnación and Luis Segura.
Anthony Santos and Luis Vargas brought a new language to the rhythm but the real international touch was given in the 90's by the musical group Aventura. Romeo Santos, leader of the group, made a mesh up between bachata and other musical styles making it one of the most popular styles in the world
The son is a mix of Latin and African elements that recall the bolero. It appeared in the Dominican between 1870 and 1890, in the northern cities of Puerto Plata and Montecristi. Its creation is attributed to the Cuban musician and composer Miguel Matamoros and the most famous Dominican performers are Sonia Cabral, known as "the queen of son", the Grupo Bonyé, who performs every Sunday evening in the Ciudad Colonial of Santo Domingo, Los Hermanos Heredia and the Maniel Group.
Influenced by African traditions, the Dominican Republic's folkloric music and dance are alive and well loved. During the Carnival in February it is possible to observe and listen different groups performing. Every weekend in the Ciudad Colonial of Santo Domingo, it is possible to admire the rhythms and dances of this style in a historical context, thanks to the free performances of the Folkloristic Ballet of the Ministry of Tourism. The best known groups are: the Congos de Villa Mella, declared Intangible and Oral Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2001. They use double-sided drums, idiophones and maracas and are famous for their African-inspired spiritual songs. In the south-east of the country we find the Guloyas and their "Cocolo dancing theater" - also a UNESCO heritage site - with Afro-British inspired music and dances. In the south-east, in the Baní area, on the other hand, there is the Sarandunga , music and dances based on African percussion and performed in religious ceremonies