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The smooth and sexy styles of Latin dance are not limited to only Latin American countries, and continue to grow in popularity in all other parts of the world. In Latin Dance in Two Parts: Parte Una, salsa, Argentine Tango and the youngest of the Latin dances, Zouk-Lambada, were featured. Now, explore three more different styles: the hot Brazilian samba, the romantic partner dance of bachata, and merengue, from the Dominican Republic.

Samba is the dance of Brazil

Samba is the dance of Brazil, the land of caipirinhas, beaches and beautiful women. The best and biggest display of samba can be seen at Brazilian Carnival, an annual festival held 46 days before Easter. Carnival hosts enormous parades featuring the best samba schools in the country; each school has its own float; official song, or samba-enredo, dancers, costumes,and samba queens, who are the objects of attraction for many viewers. Samba no pé is one of the most popular styles of Brazilian samba and is the style seen in Carnivals. It’s a solo dance danced by both men and women, accentuating the strength of the upper body and, as with all Latin styles, the hips. Brazilian samba is immensely different from the tamer style of samba taught in American ballrooms.

What to wear?
At Carnival, samba queens command attention in dramatic makeup and elaborate, colorful costumes made with plenty of bling, including beads, crystals and expensive feathers, and can sometimes take a whole year to complete. The costumes often consist of a bikini, a feather headdress, a feather backpack, and accessories for the arms and legs. They are meant show off the toned bodies of the dancers, the bra tops and thong bottoms leave little to the imagination. They also wear very high platform heels, which make it easy to dance on the balls of the feet, the way samba is usually danced by women. If you’re not feeling as ambitious or courageous, stick with a colorful top and shorts or jeans that hug in all the right places. But no matter what, don’t forget the heels!

Bachata comes from the island nation of the Dominician Republic

Bachata music and dance comes from the island nation of the Dominican Republic. It originated as a sort of “mating call”, where the more smoothly and frequently you moved your hips while dancing with your partner indicated the stronger the feelings you had for him or her. It can be danced in open or closed hold, and focuses more on the movement of the hips than turns and complex moves, as in Salsa. Good movement of the hips comes from bending the knees slightly, also known as Cuban motion.  Juan Luis Guerra is one of the Bachata singers who started it all, and modern Bachata artists include Prince Royce, Aventura and Romeo Santos.

What to wear?
Bachata is a more romantic dance compared to others. Enchant your next dance partner in lovely tops with lace and other delicate details, paired with a nice pair of jeans, heels and small pieces of pretty jewelry.

Merengue was most popular in the 80's when it hit its primeMERENGUE
Also hailing from the D.R., the name “merengue” is taken from “meringue”, the dessert made from whipped egg whites and sugar, thought its unknown exactly why. It hit its prime in the 80’s when it started to outplay salsa on radio stations, and is still enjoyed in many countries today. Some of the biggest names in the genre are Fernando Villalona, Juan Luis Guerra and Toño Rosario. Partners dancing merengue can be in open or closed hold, bending the knees and moving their hips in synchronization while stepping side to side. It is thought by many to be the easiest Latin dance to learn, but can be made more fun with twists, turns and intricate pretzels, or arm patterns. Merengue songs can have a moderate tempo, an extremely rapid tempo, or a combination of the two.

What to wear?
Since merengue accentuates the movement of the hips, let all eyes be on yours in mini dresses and skirts with plenty of ruffles. Almost any type of shoe will work, since the movements are relatively simple, involving only stepping right to left and slowly turning in either direction. Leave off the long or chunky jewelry to avoid becoming literally tangled up with your partner while attempting elaborate arm pretzels. 

To learn more about other styles of Latin Dance, including salsa, Argentine tango and Zouk-Lambada, visit: Latin Dance in Two Parts: Parte Una / Issue 133 - September 2018
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