How to Hand Jive


The hand jive is an engaging dance style characterized by intricate hand and arm movements, popularized by the movie Grease and still captivating audiences today.

Dance of 16 beats (2 sets of 8 counts). To develop an understanding of its rhythm, try dancing to some lively music and jiving to a moment that suits you.

Basic steps

The hand jive is an upbeat dance performed with only hands. Although initially, it may be challenging, with proper training and practice, anyone can learn this fast-paced style of dancing. Commonly associated with rock and roll music, but also found being performed to rhythm and blues or swing music – to start learning it takes steps beginning with essential steps and then moving forward to more advanced moves.

Ken Russell recorded teenagers of Soho, London, hand-jiving at The Cat’s Whisker coffee bar basement and released the film, ‘Hand Jive,’ as an instant classic in 1957. It helped popularize the dance throughout Britain. Hand Jive involves intricate hand moves and claps at various body parts similar to pat-a-cake; movements include thigh slapping, crossing wrists, fist pounding, fist clapping, hand clapping, and syncopated time (12/8 is usually best). The figure consists of primary, turn and returns, behind back, hip bumps, etc.

Understanding how to dance hand jive involves counting the beats of songs to execute their dance steps properly. A typical figure lasts one and a half conventional bars or four seconds and should be performed according to drumbeat rhythm; hence one must listen carefully before starting dancing.

Hand Jive was made famous through its inclusion in the Grease musical when Rydell High School students danced to “Born to Hand Jive.” While popular among swing dancers, its fame spread beyond this scene thanks to this musical movie and subsequent Broadway adaptation.

Hand jive can be a complicated dance to master, but its rewards make the effort worthwhile. To learn how to dance hand jive, consider enrolling in lessons with an experienced instructor or find local clubs and enthusiasts that meet regularly to dance the jive.


The hand jive is an alternative dance form involving hand movements instead of feet, popularized during the 1950s when first developed at London’s Cat’s Whisker. Due to an overcrowded room, dancers could no longer move their feet effectively, so they began clapping along to music using only their hands instead of dragging their feet and dancing this way instead – soon becoming an overnight success that later made its way across to US audiences via Johnny Otis shows and their members.

Hand jive dance moves can be fun and an excellent way to increase cardiovascular health, build muscle mass and increase flexibility – not to mention relieve stress and boost your mood!

There are various variations of hand jive, but all follow a basic routine. Step one involves raising your left hand and lowering it with the right. Clap twice before joining palms together for fist pounding motion before clapping again twice and slapping your thighs twice more. Finally, bring arms back into the front position by raising and lowering them on alternate components before finally clapping once and making a thumb-up motion with both hands claps.

If you want to learn hand jive, seeking lessons from an experienced instructor is wise. This will ensure you develop the correct technique and are safe when performing in public. Many dance studios provide hand jive classes; find one near you by searching online.

Hand jive songs by artists such as The Tremeloes, New Riders of the Purple Sage, and Etta James can be found online for streaming on YouTube.

Although often associated with rhythm and blues music, hand jive dancing can be done to any genre of music and is an excellent way to show your individuality while having some fun!


Hand jive dance gained popularity among dancers during the 1950s. A relatively effortless form of movement to learn, hand jive was frequently performed over rock-and-roll and rhythm-and-blues music at this time – two genres that featured lots of percussion instruments then.

Female hand jive dancers wore poodle skirts, while male dancers often donned suits with suspenders. Some ballrooms still require dancers to come wearing clothes appropriate to their era.

Today, many people still practice hand jive dance, and the style is featured prominently in modern movies. It is easy to understand why: its basic steps can be taught quickly in just minutes! Plus, it provides exercise while meeting new people! You might even be lucky to find a hand jive club nearby and join events! You may even find T-shirts, stickers, or wall art with hand-jive designs printed on high-quality products made one at a time by independent artists!


Although commonly associated with rock and roll music from the 1950s, hand jive is also danced to any fast song. It provides an effective form of exercise while looking stunning when performed collectively. Learning this dance is relatively straightforward and suitable for people of all ages and skill levels; you may also try different variations by speeding it up or slowing it down to meet individual dancers’ preferences.

“Willie and the Hand Jive,” composed in 1958 by Johnny Otis and reaching #9 on Billboard Hot 100 chart, is often heard when hand jiving. Bo Diddley-style beat of this classic track has been widely covered this tune by artists including Eric Clapton, The Crickets, and Kim Carnes.

Hand jive can be danced to most songs, though upbeat tunes work best. It takes 16 beats (2 sets of 8 counts) to perform it properly. When serving, count out each movement so you stay on time with the music and act in sync.

Before dancing the hand jive with music, practicing without accompaniment is a wise idea. This will make you more comfortable with its movements and improve your balance. Once you feel confident enough dancing it, play a song while practicing moves or add steps as challenges for yourself.

The hand jive was an iconic dance of the 1950s, made even more iconic when featured in Grease. Choreographed by Patricia Birch and featuring Sandra Dee as Rydell High Princess Sandy from Rydell High, it is a beautiful example of music’s ability to unite us across generations and social boundaries; an excellent way of showing your loved ones just how much you care while making sure everyone laughs along!