Grease 50’s Hand Jive How To

Were you born to hand jive? In the late 50’s clubs got so full the only option for dancing was to hand jive. The movie choreographer really hit the nail on the head when he used the elements from the three tons of joy as they performed the hand jive with Johnny Otis. Have fun learning the 50’s Grease style Hand jive with Sandra Dee.

Sandra Dee

The original Sandra Dee was the 1950’s princess of Hollywood. She is also the inspiration for the movie version of Sandra Dee in Grease. Sandy was certainly the Rydell High princess and apple of Danny’s eye. While Sandy and Danny are dancing the hand jive, Vince Fontaine proclaims, “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s what you do with your dancing shoes.” In this case, what you do with your dancing hands! Give it a try!

Hand Jive History

The hand jive originated in the basement of the cat’s whiskers coffee bar in London. From there it spread to America where Johnny Otis wrote his hit song “Willie & the hand jive”. He then invited Marie Adams and the Three Tons of Joy to perform the hand jive dance on his TV show in the late 50’s. It was these pieces that inspired the choreography used in Grease to the Sha na na hit “Born to Hand Jive.”

Hand Jive how to use “Willie and the Hand Jive.”

Knee pat & hand clap

Count 1,2 pat your knees or thighs twice.
Count 3,4 clap your hands twice.

Criss cross hands

Count 5,6 Cross right hand over left hand and pulse two times.
Count 7,8 Cross left hand over right hand and pulse two times.

Hammer fists

Count 1,2 Cross right hand over left hand and hammer two times.
Count 3,4 Cross left over right hand and hammer two times.

Hitchhiker thumbs up

Count 5,6 point your right thumb over your right shoulder two times.
Count 7,8 pint your left thumb over your left shoulder two times.

This sequence can be done on the beat or at double time.

Hand jive line dance how to use “Born to hand jive.”

Dance the half time hand jive. 2x, then grapevine right (side, together side tap) and left (Side Together side tap) ending ¼ turn to the left to repeat.

Holly Tomazin
WEDDING DANCE instruction
Certified Licentiate in
Ballroom, Latin, Smooth & Rhythm
with ISTD, DIVDA, FADS, & Arthur Murrary’s
author of
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Champion Ballroom Dancer & Coach

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