Monday, May 28, 2012

Five On The Black Hand Side (Black Handshakes)

Edited by Azizi Powell

Latest Revision: February 28, 2018

This post is Part I of a four part series on American hand gestures. Part I of this series focuses on "five on the black hand side" handshake, and other "low high five" 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 II of this series (High Fives),

For Part III of this series click

For Part IV of this series "Giving Daps (Intricate Handshakes)", 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 articles, the producers & cast of the featured film, and the uploader of the featured film clip.

Since the 1970s, the "high five" referent has become quite familiar to Americans. In contrast, the referent for older forms of hand gestures, the "low five", is much less familiar.
"The roots of the high five go back to the Jazz Era of the early 20th Century. Black musicians of the time created numerous ways to say hello, such as “giving some skin,” “giving five,” and later a series of complicated, interconnected handshake gestures called a “dap.” Then, in the late-1970s, college and professional basketball players began raising their arms above their heads and slapping the palms of their hands together, in what would later be dubbed the “high five.” "
In African American idiom, "give me five" and "give me some skin" is given as "gimme five", "gimme some skin", and "slap me five". "Five", of course, refers to "five fingers". In this context, "skin" refers to the palm of the hand or to the back of the hand.

"Five on the black hand side" is a now outdated, 1970s form of the "low five" hand gestures. "The black hand side" refers to the back of a Black person's hand.
Here's an urban definition entry for "black hand side":
From by tRUnETIVOct 28, 2008
[given without corrections]
black hand side
A diminished style of extension hi-fiving practically extinct coming from black people.

Involves the regular style of dapping, hi-five that black youth do except after 'fiving', someone says 'on the black hand side' and said particapants turn their palms to the outer side and five.
Denotes exclusivity, hence the name. Originated out of the black power and love movements of the '70s.
Might be considered corny by todays youth.

*Black adult* "What's up young blood!!" (proceeds to dap typical black youth of today)

*Black adult* "Now on the black hand side!!"

*Typical black youth of today* 'Blank stare' "O.K..." (slowly follows old schoolers lead)
My only disagreement with this quote is that I believe "five on the black hand side" gestures were low five and not high five gestures.

The title of the 1973 blaxploitation comedy film Five On The Black Hand Side refers to a variant form of the low five hand gestures. To quote, "Blaxploitation or blacksploitation is a film genre which emerged in the United States in the 1970s. It is considered an ethnic sub-genre of the general category of exploitation films. Blaxploitation films were originally made specifically for an urban black audience, although the genre's audience appeal soon broadened to cross racial and ethnic lines."
The narrator in the Five On The Black Hand Side movie trailer begins that clip by listing as verbs the titles of three previous hit blaxploitation films - "You've been coffy-tized, blacula-rized and super-flied - but now you're gonna be glorified, unified and filled-with-pride... when you see 'Five on the Black Hand Side'". That trailer also provides two examples of "five on the black hand side" and one example of the two hand low five gesture.

Five On The Black Hand Side Trailer Blaxploitation

Uploaded by thegroovetube on May 30, 2009

Here are the examples of low five gestures that are shown in that film clip:

0:22 - a clip of a hand that is held palm down [which means his “black hand side" is showing], and angled downward. The second person’s hand is palm up [which means his (or her) “black hand side" is touching the other person’s black hand side]. While it isn't shown in that clip, from my memory of this gesture, the top hand is slide outward over the first person’s hand.

2:01 - a clip of two men giving low fives with two hands (for agreement)

2:33- a clip of "five on the black hand side" in which a man's or woman's hand is held palm down and level [horizontal] and a woman's hand is held palm up on the top.

As an aside, at 1:43 in that video, the phrase “uptight is used to mean "something or someone that is very good". That same meaning for "uptight" is found in R&B artist Stevie Wonder’s 1966 hit song "Uptight (Everything's alright)" That vernacular meaning for "uptight" has been largely forgotten, and has been replaced by the standard American English meaning "anxious, tense, and overly controlled". However, the African American vernacular phrase "That's tight" has the same meaning as the vernacular term "uptight".

Click information about Five On The Black Hand Side.

Click for film clips of & lyrics to the 1940 and 1941 jazz songs "Gimme Some Skin My Friend".

Terminator 2 - Gimme Five
[embedding disabled by request]

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.

No comments:

Post a Comment