"It's the music that makes you move," and by City Council resolution, Hand Dance is the official dance of DC.
Developed in the Washington, DC area in the early 1950s by African Americans as a form of recreation and entertainment, Hand Dance is rooted in the floor version of swing as opposed to the acrobatics and aerials of the Lindy and Jitterbug. In the 1950s, the best dancers honed their dance skills at Turner’s Arena, Lincoln Colonnade, and the U-Line Arena to the tunes of big bands led by Louis Jordan and Big Joe Turner fueled the dance. In the 1960s, the tempo slowed down to a “cool” rhythm as the dance became known as “Fast Dancing” and the music was Motown, Chicago Soul and the Stax Records sound.
With various events attracting various generations and types of hand dancers, DJs assess the audience prior to and during the event to be able to play the type of music that brings hand dancers to the floor. Whether exclusively oldies but goodies music of the 50s, 60s and 70s for old school hand dancers or contemporary music for the "now" generation of hand dancers whose hand dance styles are slightly different. In mixed audiences, hand dancers enjoy a mixture of old and new in their social evening of dance.
What makes a good hand dance DJ? The ability to know the audience and play to that audience - getting people on the dance floor and keep them there. Hand Dancers are incredibly selective in their music choice, so a hand dance can be a total dud without the right DJ and the right music.
Join HumanitiesDC and the National Hand Dance Association for a discussion on the special history and significance of Hand Dance in DC, a demonstration, and lessons!
What is a Humanitini?
A public program of HumanitiesDC, the National Endowment for the Humanities nonprofit state affilate for the District of Columbia, Humanitini is an exciting happy hour event where Washington's movers, shakers, and creators come together to think and drink. It is a place for you to engage with your peers, meet your neighbors, and speak with experts about what makes our city a unique place to live and play.
When: Thursday, Feb. 8 - 11:30 pm
Friday, Feb. 9 1:00 am
Web: Visit Website