The Original Dancing Cop

There have been many reports and videos of dancing cops who choreograph their movements while directing traffic, but the original “dancing cop” was Pittsburgh policeman Vic Cianca, who started the trend. In 1951, he took the exam to become a police officer and was hired in 1952. Assigned to direct traffic, it wasn’t long before Vic developed his characteristic routine. Wearing his customary white gloves, he used as many as three limbs at once to hurry people along. When someone drove too slowly, he would rest his cheek in his hands, miming sleep. If a driver tried to explain away a traffic violation, Vic played an imaginary violin. He took slow, silly bows, and blew whistles so hard they broke. Showing his sweet side, he often ushered women and children across busy downtown intersections, and it wasn’t long before people began showing up just to watch Officer Cianca direct traffic. When asked about his gyrations, he explained: “Few motorists can mistake my intentions and they gladly follow my directions. Some of my antics are amusing, but all have a purpose.” His flamboyant style of directing traffic even led to appearances on the television program Candid Camera in 1964, as well as appearances on The Tonight Show and Charles Kuralt’s CBS News documentary segment On the Road. Upon his retirement on Jan. 4, 1983, The Pittsburgh Press said that “a downtown traffic jam without Vic Cianca was a traffic jam with no redeeming qualities. Vic passed away on Jan. 24, 2010 at the age of 92. He might be gone, but Officer Cianca in his signature white gloves lives on in the hearts and minds of everyone who had the pleasure of witnessing his magic.