Green’s Dictionary of Slang

hokey-pokey n.1

[SE hocus-pocus]

1. swindling and other illicit activities.

[UK]‘Pot’ & ‘Swears’ Scarlet City 56: How she’ll swear when she hears of this little bit of hokey-pokey.
[UK]Partridge DSUE (1984) 559: from ca. 1845.
R. Dahl Someone Like You 312: ‘A good respectable job is all a man should wish for. [...] Too much hokey-pokey in business for my liking’.

2. nonsense.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (1984) 559: from ca. 1875.
[US]J.M. Cain Moth (1950) 321: I tell you that’s all hokey-pokey.
[US]G. Tate ‘Knee Deep in Blood Ulmer’ in Flyboy in the Buttermilk (1992) 18: When Blood goes vocal the bottom drops out like a stumblebum and the bridges take it to the hokey-pokey.

3. an unspecified object.

[UK]J. Cary Horse’s Mouth (1948) 171: You tell the tale and I make the hokey pokey, works by the celebrated Gulley Jimson.