Early History of the Club

The Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Hand Dance Preservation Society

The Club had its beginnings in the fall of 1994 at a party held at the home of Louise Pyles in Camp Springs, MD with well known deejay "The Gator" spinning tunes. Partygoers were asked by Mike Reamy if they were interested in forming a hand dance club and the answer from attendees was a resounding, Yes! Many signed up on the spot and a week later Mike selected and called a meeting of the original founders Donna Nicholson, Ron Nicholson, Louise Pyles, and Bonnie Torguson.

Within a month the Club was up and running and was formalized with By-Laws and Standing Rules. The Club was incorporated as a not for profit social club in the State of Maryland in February of 1995.  The addition to our formal title, a shortened trade name of D.C. Hand Dance Club was adopted.

The purpose of the Club was to preserve the dance style as it was danced in the 1950's and early 60's.

Elections were held in September 1995 and the club's first duly elected officers were Mike Reamy, President,  Joe King, 1st Vice President,  Bonnie Torguson, 2nd Vice President,  Donna Nicholson, Secretary, and  Ron Nicholson, Treasurer.

The year 1995 was an extremely busy foundation building year with traditions and structures set in place such as: Hall of Fame/Valentine's Dance, organized method of dance instruction, club certified teachers, teaching venues in five locations weekly (Tornado Alley Wheaton, MD, Malibu's in Camp Springs, MD, Juke Box Café in Springfield, VA, Jonathan's in Baltimore, and Rod 'n Reel in Chesapeake Beach, MD). Monthly dances were scheduled featuring our own deejays, as well as dance exhibitions, affiliation with national groups such as the National and American Bop Associations with Donna Nicholson serving as a board member and our liaison with these organizations.

We connected and supported other local dance clubs such as the Northern Virginia Shag Club, Potomac Swing Club, the National Hand Dance Association, and our swing buddies from Baltimore, who hosted Sunday dance party's at Partners in Baltimore.

In addition, the annual party at the Boulevard Grille in North Myrtle Beach, SC (during SOS week) was born in September of 1995 with Tommy D and Dick Jurney rocking the place as Shaggers quickly took notice and partied with their new D.C. Hand Dance Club friends.

It was also the beginning of our travels to other dance party's hosted by the Cincinnati Bop Club, the Virginia Beach Shag Club, the Richmond Shag Club, Hampton Roads Shag Club, Memphis Bop Club, Nashville Bop Club, Florida Boppers, and many others throughout the country.

The Club Logo and Newsletter were designed and named by members who voted on final selections and thanks to the efforts of Ron Nicholson, we were one of the first dance clubs to have our own Internet website.

In addition to our founders, some early worker-bees and committee chairs were: Rose and Andy Anderson, Charlie & Joanne Kalinich, Russ Alion, Joe & Heidi King, Joanne Williamson, Joe Boratenski, Spike Kearney, John & Caroline Ratcliffe, Sally & Tommy Dickerson, Dick Jurney, Paul Grace, Eddie & Eileen Mayhew, Marlene Borack, Bucky Murphy, Ralph & Pam Watson, Pat Chucci, Bruce Kleiman, Mary Ferguson, Chris Jordan and Bonnie Richardson with special recognition going to Murphy & Linda Smilardo, who in the early 90's along with Donnie Hofman, started hosting hand dance parties and competitions at a small restaurant in North Beach, MD called Chaney's.

Bonnie Richardson, a renowned ballroom and hand dance instructor, was also the force behind the formation of the Club's Hall of Fame Award, as well as the creator of the Standardized Method of Hand Dance Instruction used by Club Certified Teachers, Joe King, Heidi King, Bonnie Torguson, Ron Nicholson, and Donna Nicholson.

Our weekly dances at the Rod n Reel, Malibu's, Colony South, Randy's California Inn, Juke Box Café, Tornado Alley, and Red's in Lanham were replaced by Sunday evening dance parties at the 94th Aero Squadron in College Park, MD. Thanks to networking and a tip from Ron Nicholson (the 94th was a commercial client of his HVAC firm) to President Joe King and his Board, a meeting with management and Tom Tassara occurred, details worked out, and the rest is history. Tom Tassara was the Club's liaison with the 94th Aero Squadron. Tom organized our weekly events including special anniversary and holiday parties.

D.C. Hand Dance Club is an integral part of the Metropolitan Washington, D.C. dance scene and continues to evolve. Current and past officers have been committed to continued growth and continuity of the Club. And, 2010 was the culmination of a dream that began in 1994 when the Club  hosted a dance party the weekend of March 15-17 at the Clarion Hotel in Ocean City, MD. 

Each year it keeps getting bigger and better!