How to Do the 50s Hand Jive

Written by trisha dawe
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In the summer of 1958, Johnny Otis introduced "Willie and the Hand Jive" to the rock-and-roll era. Teenagers quickly adopted a dance called the "hand jive" and it has since been spotlighted in productions such as "Grease," starring Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta, via Sha Na Na's hit "Born to Hand Jive." A repetitive dance, the hand jive consists mostly of hand movements that require the participant to do the same motion twice, changing dominant hands.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Slap your thighs, with your knees slightly bent, twice.

  2. 2

    Clap your hands two times together in front of you.

  3. 3

    Cross your hands twice, right hand over left and back at chest height. Repeat this action, this time crossing your left hand over your right.

  4. 4

    Clench both hands into fists and bump your right fist onto your left fist two times. Switch dominant hands and bump your left fist twice onto your right fist.

  5. 5

    Push your right fist, with your thumb extended like a hitchhiker over your left shoulder and repeat with the left fist, thumb out, over your left shoulder.

  6. 6

    Repeat the series of movements throughout the song.

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