Dance now: Can you Lindy Hop? (40024)
Dance now: Can you Lindy Hop? (40023)

When we first received the call, it was difficult to figure out what Beverly Lindsay-Johnson was talking about. As the conversation went on, the realization that she was talking about the Lindy Hop became apparent.

Uncle Pat and Aunt Aurora used to Lindy Hop when the family was young in the 1940s. Aunt Aurora used to fly around the house and on the dance floors wearing a plaid flare skirt and white blouse with a scarf around her neck. She also kicked in brown and white saddle lace-ups and white socks, while Uncle Pat simply donned a pair of baggy, creased pants with cuffs and a button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up.

His wingtip shoes were always shining. Uncle Pat would swing her around his shoulders and back and forth through his legs. She would be back on her feet in no time–in full swing with her hands up and hips just a-twistin’. The Lindy Hop was the swing dance of the times.

Everyone in the family was swinging around the living room, even the children. The nice thing about it was that folks danced together. There was lots of family fun and love in the air.

On May 9-11, the Harlem Swing Dance Society and the National Hand Dance Association, located in Washington, D.C., are partnering to host a three-day cultural exchange between the hand dance community of Washington, D.C., and the Lindy Hop community of Harlem. Check out the schedule at places like the Savoy Ballroom. These two organizations will also be joined by BABBLE (Big Apple Blues, Balboa and Lindy Exchange) of New York City. So get out your dancing shoes out, because it’s time to swing. It’s wonderful to know this dance style is back.

The official name of the project and event is “Lindy Hop, Meet Hand Dance: African-American Swing Dance Traditions Visited.” The goal of this special event is to educate the hand dance community in the history of Lindy Hop/Swing Dance. There has been a tremendous reception for the development of hand dance. Coming to New York from Washington, D.C., and other parts of the country, this event will attract members of the hand dance community

The history of hand dancing goes back some 50 years or more. It’s one of the oldest swing-styled social and cultural partner-dances of the century. They say it’s indigenous to the communities of Washington, D.C., and the metropolitan area. Hand dance is the official dance of the District of Columbia by Resolution of the DC Council; however, New Yorkers think it started right here in Harlem.

“Lindy Hop Meets D.C. Hand Dance’ provides opportunities for our communities to broaden and deepen the understanding of our respective and joint cultural knowledge,” stated Lindsay-Johnson, National Hand Dance Association president. “We’re excited about coming to Harlem, the birthplace of swing and the home roots of hand dance.” Lindsay-Johnson was born and raised in the Bronx, N.Y., and she now resides in the Washington, D.C., area.

“Hand dance is the descendant of Lindy Hop, and we’re delighted to meet and dance with our D.C. dance cousins,” said Barbara A. Jones, founder and president of the Harlem Swing Dance Society, a nonprofit organization. “We hope to provide them with a close-up of Harlem in the glorious ’30s and ’40s via our historical sites, sounds and dance experts, and we look forward to learning how to ‘swing-out’ D.C. style.”

The big band music promises be incredible. For those of you who don’t know how to Lindy Hop/hand dance, this is your chance to learn. For more information, please visit