How to Do the Hand Jive 11 Steps

Get ready to embrace the rhythm and let your hands do the talking with the hand jive, a dance that’s all about intricate hand movements and good old-fashioned fun. Popularized in the 1950s and gaining a resurgence thanks to movies like “Grease,” the hand jive is both a nostalgic throwback and a great way to get everyone on the dance floor. With no technical expertise required and just a willingness to let loose, you’ll learn the classic steps that have had people swinging their arms and clapping their hands for decades.

how to do the hand jive 11 steps

The Hand Jive Basics

The hand jive is a dance that involves a series of hand and arm movements performed to a catchy beat. This dance can be done while sitting or standing and is characterized by its energy and repetitive motions, which were originally designed to mimic various occupational gestures. It’s a fun, social dance that’s easy to learn and even easier to enjoy.

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Start with a Clap: Place your palms together and give a firm clap. This will be your basic timing mechanism throughout the dance.

  2. The Slap: Move your hands to your thighs and slap them twice. This helps keep the rhythm and prepares you for the next movements.

  3. The Crossed Wrist: Cross your wrists in front of your chest, right over left, then left over right. Do this twice.

  4. The Double Hand Pump: Make fists with both hands. Pump your right fist twice in the air, then repeat with the left.

  5. The Elbow Tap: Bend your right arm, bringing your fist near your shoulder, and tap your right elbow with your left hand twice. Switch arms and repeat.

  6. The Motorcycle: Hold your fists in front of you as if you’re grasping motorcycle handlebars. Twist your fists as if revving the engine twice to each side.

  7. The Hitchhiker: With your thumbs up, mimic the action of hitching a ride. Swing thumbs over each shoulder twice, first right then left.

  8. Hand Clapping Rotation: Extend your arms to the side, palms facing front, and clap your hands over your head, then down near your waist, and finally behind your back.

  9. The Boxing Jab: Extend your right arm forward as if throwing a jab, then pull back. Repeat with the left arm.

  10. The Finale Clap: Finish with a high-energy clap above your head to signal the end of the routine.


The hand jive is an excellent way to get your body moving, improve coordination, and have fun. It’s a simple dance that can be enjoyed by all ages and skill levels. While the steps are easy to follow, the fast pace may take some practice to master. There are no real downsides other than possibly tiring out your arms initially, but with practice, your endurance will surely grow.

Hand Jive Variations

Part of the fun of the hand jive is adding your own flair to the movements. Once you’ve got the basics down, feel free to personalize the dance. Try different speeds or exaggerating the movements for comedic effect. The most important thing is to have a good time and let the music guide you.


By now, you should have a solid understanding of the hand jive and its basic steps. Don’t worry if you don’t get it right away – like any dance, it takes a little practice and a lot of enthusiasm. The beauty of the hand jive is in its joyous spirit and the communal experience it creates. Whether you’re at a sock hop or just hanging out with friends, bust out your new moves and enjoy the ride!


Q: Do I need any special equipment to do the hand jive?
A: No special equipment is needed, just a can-do attitude and some swinging tunes!

Q: Can the hand jive be performed to any song?
A: While it’s traditionally performed to 1950s rock ‘n’ roll, you can hand jive to any song with a good beat.

Q: Is the hand jive suitable for all ages?
A: Absolutely! The hand jive is a timeless dance that can be enjoyed by children, adults, and seniors alike.

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