Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Giving Daps (Intricate Black Handshakes)

Edited by Azizi Powell

Latest Revision: February 25, 2018

This post is Part IV of a four part series on American hand gestures. Part IV of this series focuses on dap handshakes.

Each of the posts in this series focus on hand gestures that were either created by African Americans or have been most closely associated with African Americans.

For Part I of this series (Five On The Black Hand Side handshakes), click

For Part II of this series (High Fives),

For Part III of this series click

The content of this post is presented for historical, folkloric, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes. The copyrights remain with their owners.

My thanks to the authors of the quoted article, the producers of the featured videos, and those persons appearing in the videos. My thanks also to the uploaders of those videos.

"A dap greeting is a series of arranged gestures exchanged between two individuals. Although a dap greeting can be exchanged upon meeting someone, it can also be used to indicate agreement, celebration or fellowship at any time. A dap greeting can include slapping hands, bumping fists in any direction, snapping, wiggling fingers and other forms of contact, and it can last anywhere from a few seconds to more than a minute. Dap greetings originated in the black community and have since spread to other racial groups, with many subcultures and groups of friends developing their own very specific dap greetings...


This type of greeting typically is non-verbal, and it is exchanged as a gesture of affection and solidarity. Dap greetings are believed to have originated in Africa, where people from different tribes might exchange such greetings upon meeting each other to indicate peaceful and friendly intentions. Blacks who emigrated to other parts of the world — including those forcefully transported as slaves — developed their own dap greetings...

Meaning of "Dap"
Some people believe that “dap” is an acronym for “dignity and pride,” reflecting the adoption of the dap greeting by the black power movement. Others suggest that “dignity and pride” is merely what is sometimes called a "backronym" — an acronym thought up after a word already existed. "Dap" also might be a shortening of another word or an onomatopoeia — a word that imitates the noise produced by this type of greeting; some dap greetings create a sound much like “dap,” which is produced by pulling the slightly cupped hands of the participants against each other."
Shake That! The Right Way By: liss
"[In] Benin [West Africa], young men snap fingers while shaking hands. In Botswana [South Africa], people touch hands with a slight grazing of the palms and fingers. In Singapore [Asia], after you handshake its customary to place the other persons hand over your heart. Among Scandinavian [Europe] teens, exchanging spit by means of a handshake seals a deal...

Jamaicans complain that Americans are distant and Americans complain that Germans are cold and unfriendly. Sure, when you first meet them, Jamaicans dont shake hands with you. But once you get acquainted, they expect a casual lock and fly or a one harmed hug or a shug or a bro grab or a hetero-hug or whatever its known as in your country" ...
"Though it can refer to many kinds of greetings involving hand contact, dap is best known as a complicated routine of shakes, slaps, snaps, and other contact that must be known completely by both parties involved. Dap greeting sometimes include a pound hug."

*ADDED SECTION [February 25, 2018] : The African American Experience in Vietnam: Brothers in Arms
By James E. Westheider
page 76
..."African Americans who remained in the armed services often reacted to racism by seeking comfort and safety in racial solidarity and by establishing their own sub-culture within the military. They called each other “brother”, “soul brother”, or “bloods”, and they were proud of being black. Two popular methods of greeting fellow black soldiers and demonstrating racial solidarity were the black power salute, a clenched fist in the air, and the “dab”, which developed in Vietnam, probably among inmates of the notorious Long Binh stockade. Dap is a corruption of the word “dep” Vietnamese slang for something beautiful. The dap, also known as “checking in”, was an intricate ritualized handshake, involving numerous gestures and movements. There was no standard dap, but there were many common gestures. There were countless variations of dap, and some of the more common greetings could go on for five or more minutes. Each move had a specific meaning: Pounding on the heart with a clenched fist, for example, symbolized brotherly love and solidarity; clenching fingers together and then touching the backside of the hand meant “My brother, I’m with you”. Most of the gestures signified solidarity, respect, and pride, but a few had darker meanings. A slicing movement across the throat symbolized cutting the throats of white MPs, never a favorite group among black recruits."...
Click the "black handshakes" tab below for more pancocojams posts about this subject.

Video #1: Gestures, meanings and cultures

Uploaded by socialontology on Jan 29, 2011

Gestures can vary in meaning across cultures as this short clip from a documentary by Desmond Morris demonstrate
This video provides a general overview of hand gestures in various nations throughout the world.

Video #2: Ebony & Ivory Handshake - The Bert Show

Uploaded by q100atlanta on Jun 19, 2011

Video #3: lebrons Pre-game handshakes

Uploaded by nlnodoubt on Dec 20, 2009

lebron james secret handshakes with his Cleveland cavaliers teammates, He is truly an incredible talent.
Actually, I don't think these handshakes are secret. "Personalized" is probably a better word to describe them, as Lebron appears to have a different dap handshake for each person.

Video #4: Monta Ellis' Amazing Handshake

Uploaded by SciFientology on Jan 14, 2010
WARNING! A number of viewers of this video connected the handshake shown in this video with the Gangster Disciple Nation (GDN or GD).

Certain handshakes are associated with specific gangs. Those handshakes absolutely should NOT be done by people who aren’t members of those gangs.

[This prohibition against non-members doing this handshake doesn't apply to the high five that followed it.]
In this clip, Monta Ellis said "I told ya I'd warm that thang up." (referring to the basketball shots that he made.]

Video #5: Everybody Hates Chris Handshake 480p

jensyao5, Published on Oct 22, 2014
This clip is from season 3, episode 9 (according to an excerpt of a summary for a no longer available video of this clip that which was as originally embedded in this post).
"This television show is inspired by the teenage experiences of comedian Chris Rock (who is also the narrator). The show is set from 1982 to 1987; however, Rock himself was a teenager during years 1978-1983."

[Video added February 28, 2018]
Fresh Prince - Will Jazz Handshake Compilation

Jibb's Compilations, Published on May 7, 2014

Every scene of Will and Jazz high five from every season of Fresh Prince. Featuring other cast members and guest stars.

Episodes in order of appearance:
1x02 Bang the Drum, Ashley 0:01
3x07 Here Comes the Judge 0:02
2x19 Eyes on the Prize 0:04
2x17 Community Action 0:05
1x07 Def Poets Society 0:07
1x10 Kiss my Butler 0:09
4x13 'Twas the Night Before Christening 0:11
3x23 The Way We Were 0:13

4x20 The 'Ol Ball and Chain 0:14
6x23 I, Done Part 1 0:16
5x25 For Whom the Wedding Bells Toll 0:18
4x01 Where There's a Will, There's a Way 0:20
1x07 Def Poets Society 0:22
1x23 72 Hours 0:24
3x01 How I Spent My Summer Vacation 0:26
4x19 You'd Better Shop Around 0:28

4x16 I know Why the Caged Bird Screams 0:30
3x17 The Best Laid Plans 0:32
5x01 What's Will Got to do With It 0:34
5x16 A Decent Proposal 0:37
1x09 Someday Your Prince Will Be in Effect 0:39
1x09 Someday Your Prince Will Be in Effect 0:40
1x16 The Lucky Charm 0:42
3x18 The Alma Matter 0:45

5x21 Save the Last Trance for Me 0:46
2x24 Strip-Tease for Two 0:48
4x07 Hex and the Single Guy 0:52
2x19 Eyes on the Prize 0:54
4x09 Fresh Prince After Dark 0:56
3x13 Mommy Nearest 0:58
4x23 Mother's Day 1:01

Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Carlton playing gangster in Compton.flv

embedding disabled by request

This television clip from an episode of the early 1990s to mid 1990s American television show, The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air contains several examples of dap handshakes.

1:27-1:28 - an agreement handshake

2:02-2:03 - a departure handshake

2:09 - 2:10 - a handshake as a sign of approval

2:34 - a handshake as a sign of approval


This episode also includes an example of the vertical fist bump [1:41-1:42]
Click for information about that television show.

As demonstrated by Michelle Obama, African American females may give "pounds" (fist bumps). And African American females also may give "high fives". However, what I have experienced and observed since the 1960s is that the way that Black American teenage girls and Black American women informally greet & say goodbye to Black females & Black males (or to some non-Black people who they are "cool" with) is usually different from the informal ways that males informally greet & say goodbye to other males.

In my experience, the way that many African American women informally greet & say goodbye other females and males by hugging each other, with our face turned to the side. This is the same way that many African American males informally greet females. And some African American females may informally greet & say goodbye to females & males by giving double hugs with air kisses, similar to the gesture that is shown in this video:

Etiquette of Social Kissing

Uploaded by engclass0 on Dec 20, 2007

African American men may often informally greet and say goodbye to females in that same way instead of giving them dap handshakes.

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  1. Very nice post with relevant videos.

    1. Thanks, Aritul, for your compliment.

      Best wishes!