From the category archives:
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 50′s 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. It fell out of favor during the disco era, but in the 80′s, Hand Dance resurfaced in the Washington dance community.
In 1993, the Smithsonian Institution recognized Hand Dance as an American Art Form, and the Smithsonian exhibit have led led to the establishment of the National Hand Dance Association.
In 1999 it was formally recognized as the official dance of D.C. by the city council.
In 2000, the first book on D.C. Hand Dance was published by native Washingtonian Kim L. Frazier (Morris Publishing-ISBN 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.
On 29 May 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.
The TRI-State Connection holds an annual hand dance competition in Tyson’s Corner each September.