Hand dancing

Hand dancing, also known as "D.C. hand dancing" or "D.C. swing", is a form of swing dance that can be traced as far back as the 1920s, from Lindy Hop, to Jitterbug and to the 50s when Washington, D.C. developed its own version and named it Hand Dance. It is characterized by gliding footwork and continuous hand connection/communication between the partners, hence its name.[1] It fell out of favor during the disco era, but in the 80s, Hand Dance resurfaced in the Washington dance community.[2]

In 1993, the Smithsonian Institution recognized Hand Dance as an American Art Form, and the Smithsonian exhibit led to the establishment of the National Hand Dance Association.[1][2]

In 1999 it was formally recognized as the official dance of D.C. by the city council.[2]

In 2000, the first book on D.C. Hand Dance was published by native Washingtonian Kim L. Frazier (Morris Publishing-ISBN 978-0-9750683-0-4; Library of Congress Reference# TXu000937692). The book documents the history, definition, philosophy, culture, structure, dance steps and varied styles of Hand Dance. It provides discussions on etiquette, the competitive and social dance environment the benefits of the dance, social norms, the traditional and contemporary variations and more.

In 2008, hand dancing was featured on the television contest So You Think You Can Dance with the auditions of contestants Markus Smith and Deonna Ball. Their performance followed a brief exposition on its history and video footage from a hand dancing party at a VFW hall in Suitland, Maryland.

On 1 January 2011, the Washington Post featured an article on Hand Dancing highlighting Washington, DC Mayor Vincent Gray's participation in the art form[3]

The TRI-State Connection [4] holds an annual hand dance competition in Tyson's Corner each September.


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