Merengue is a type of music and dance originating in the Dominican Republic which has become one of the most popular genres throughout Latin America. The etymology of its name is much disputed. It may derive from the French dessert meringue, but it is also likely to be related to similar West African words related to dance and music.
Merengue was first mentioned around the middle of the 1800s. In the Dominican Republic it was promoted by Rafael Trujillo, the dictator from the 1930 to 1961, who turned it into the country's national music and dance style. In the United States it was first popularized by New York-based groups and bandleaders like Rafael Petiton Guzman, beginning in the 1930s, and Angel Viloria y su Conjunto Típico Cibaeño in the 1950s. It was during the Trujillo era that the merengue "Compadre Pedro Juan", by Luis Alberti, became an international hit and standardized the 2-part form of the merengue.
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