What Are the Costumes Used in Merengue Dances?

By Olivea Shure
Dancers in a ballroom competition wear flashy costumes.

The sound of the word “merengue” as it rolls off the tongue feels as rhythmic and rompy as the dance itself. Merengue is a type of Latin dance style that uses the hips to accentuate a two-beat marching step. Since men wear a standard of dark slacks with a button down shirt, it’s usually the women who translate merengue’s high-spirited moves through their costumes. The dance outfits tend to be colorful, tight fitting and revealing not only to show off the dance movements but also to compliment the liveliness of the music. The venue will dictate the type of costume you’ll need to wear to comfortably merengue your way into the night.

Culture Festival

Any festival that features the Dominican Republic will likely also celebrate the merengue as its national dance. DR’s culture and heritage proudly invests itself in the music and dance of merengue. It’s common to see dancers wear traditional costumes of peasant tops and long, wide, flowing skirts and dresses in bright, warm colors. Men wear shirts that match the color of the partner’s dress.

Latin Dance Club

Going clubbing is all about having fun, so wear clothing that’s both comfortable and revealing enough to show off your moves. Since meringue is all about the hips, short skirts made from flowing fabrics will accentuate your hip movement. A long pant with a slit originating from the thigh has a sexy appeal to it and will give your dance a little extra accent. Fitted tops such as cropped shirts that show off the midriff work great as they draw attention to the waistline. Men wear dark slacks or jeans with an open collared or form fitting shirt.

Ballroom Competition

In any competition from gingerbread houses to pageantry, eye catching presentation and appearance can really set you apart from the rest. Ballroom competitors go to great lengths to decorate their bodies and emphasize certain features like flexibility and speed through their costumes, which need to be made of lightweight materials to allow for quick movements. Women wear dresses or two pieces embellished with items like rhinestones, sequins, fringe and feathers so that the costume is showy and memorable. Men’s costumes compliment the partner’s, always with shirt tucked into the slacks.

Shoes

No matter where you dance, shoes need to have a smooth sole with as little traction as possible to allow for the greatest ease of movement. The quicker the footwork, the smoother sole you’ll want. Professional dance shoes have a soft sole that enables the dancer to move safely and seamlessly across the dance floor.

About the Author

Based in New York City, Olivea Shure has been writing since 2007, with experience writing for wellness and public-relations companies. She has worked as an editor and researcher, serving as the New York Zone bureau chief for the "World Tribune," a newspaper with Soka Gakkai International. Shure holds a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts and humanities from Soka University of America.