El Festival del Merengue de Santo Domingo [Santo Domingo Merengue Festival] will take place on July 26-31, 2009. This festival attracts the genre’s best talent from around the world. Every year since 1967 top bands perform at Santo Domingo’s seaside promenade, El Malecón, and related events are held throughout the city of Santo Domingo to celebrate the traditional Merengue Festival, dedicated to the Dominican republic’s national dance, merengue. This event, organized by the Ministry of Tourism of the Dominican Republic, begins with a picturesque parade at El Malecón. Various activities follow the parade. Besides the main attraction, performances by famous merengue bands, there are art and handicraft exhibitions, food fairs, and games. But most important is dance; people dance in the streets, in the bars, on the beach, and throughout the capital.
“Traditional merengue groups are comprised of a three-piece band including a melodeon (accordion-like instrument), a guira (a scraped percussion piece) and a tambora (double-headed drum); however, it has expanded to incorporate other instruments such as the saxophone, trumpets, violin, flute and piano. Its tempo is characterized by an aggressive beat, requiring its dancers to swing their hips in rapid, fluid motions and make sure their feet follow suit. Early merengue’s lyrics were based on sexual encounters and other socially taboo subjects, thus preventing it from becoming widely accepted. Today, merengue’s lyrics cover more general topics including politics and current events.”
Photo and description of merengue from http://www.dominican-republic-holiday.com/merengue-music.html