National Tap Dance Day in Philadelphia
Building Upon Two Decades of History
In 1992, National Tap Dance Day was recognized by George H. W. Bush and Congress as a national holiday. Starting in 1994, the first National Tap Dance Day celebrations in Philadelphia were presented and produced by the Philadelphia Tap Alliance, which were led by Beverly Rolfsmeyer and Peggy Leiby, and assisted by Audrey Bookspan. The inaugural celebration was a small gathering at Seger Playground at 10th and Lombard Streets. From 1996-1998, the celebration grew significantly, attracting hundreds of people across percussive dance communities, and featuring international tap stars at evening concerts, including Buster Brown, Toni Lombre, Barbara Duffy, Germaine Ingram, the and more, all while celebrating the continuing legacy of LaVaughn Robinson. The celebrations from 1999-2000 were produced by Tap Team Two and Company at the Community Education Center, and the celebrations paused thereafter.
The influence that these celebrations had lived on through the people who attended them, and overall success of the events helped put Philadelphia on the tap map.
In 2016, the PCTP decided to continue this tradition in a slightly different way. Instead of a weekend of workshops and performances, we wanted to draw attention to Philadelphia's unique legacy of street hoofing and tap dancing on corners. We threw down some boards and organized a tap and drum circle on Passyunk Square on May 25, 2016. In May 2017, Dance Teacher Magazine covered our celebration. Torrential rain moved the celebration to the Headhouse Square Shambles. We still put down our boards and danced. In May 2018, we returned to City Hall for an expanded celebration of music, tap dancing and street performances.