"Bubble dancing” is a humorous term for dishwashing (and its soap bubbles) that developed among soldiers in 1941; a person who washes the dishes is a “bubble dancer.” The burlesque dancer Sally Rand (1904-1979) had popularized the balloon “bubble dance” in the 1930s. The terms “bubble dancing” and “bubble dancer” are rarely used today.
Other names for a person who washes dishes iinclude “dish pig” and and “pearl diver.”
(Historical Dictionary of American Slang)
bubble-dancing n. the washing of dishes by hand. Hence bubble-dancer a person who washes dishes.
1941 N.Y. Times (Sept. 19) 25: [At Maxwell Field, Ala.] bubble dancing is washing dishes.
1941 American Speech (Oct.) 164: Bubble Dancing. Dishwashing.
1942 Sat. Eve. Post (May 30): Bubble-dancer: a dishwasher.
1942 Good Housekeeping (Dec.) 11: The Army calls this job K. P. The men have another name...Bubble dancing.
1943 Hunt & Pringle Service Slang: Bubble-dancing—Pot washing in the cook-house.
1946 Boulware Jive & Slang 2: Bubble Dancing...Washing dishes.
18 May 1941, Springfield (MA) Republican, “Soldier’s terms must be known by broadcasters,” pg. 6C, col. 5:
And after the meal is over, the next step is bubble dancing, a term of endearment applied to the dish-washing routine.
25 May 1941, Boston (MA) Daily Globe, pg. C8:
Do You Know Soldiers Go in For Bubble Dancing After Meals?
War Department’s New Dictionary for Radio Use Reveals Soldier’s Way of Describing Life in the Camp
Google News Archive
18 June 1941, Lewiston (ID) Morning Tribune, “A New Language,” pg. 4, col. 1:
But he might not comprehend immediately that bubble dancing is dishwashing, draped is spifflicated, jeeps are bantam automobiles and shutters are sleeping pills.
The Back Burner
A Glossary of Restaurant Lingo, Slang & Terms
May 6, 2011 by: Heather Turner
Bubble Dancer – A disrespectful name for one of the most valuable and unrecognized of kitchen staff – the dishwasher.
New York City • Restaurants/Bars/Bakeries/Food Stores • Sunday, March 04, 2012 • Permalink