Monday, May 28, 2012

High Five (Black Handshake Videos)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post is Part II of a four part series on American hand gestures. Part II of this series focuses on "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 I of this series (Five On The Black Hand Side handshakes), click

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

" “High five” is a gesture that originated in America in the late 1970s and 1980s independent of usage elsewhere. In addition to the standard high five several other types of "five" exist.

The "low five" had already been known since at least the 1920s, written evidence can be found in Cab Calloway's 1938 Hepster's Dictionary. In the 1927 film The Jazz Singer, actor Al Jolson is seen performing the low five in celebration of the news of a Broadway audition. In African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) this was known as "giving skin" or "slapping skin"."

Video #1: Improv Everywhere: High Five Escalator

Uploaded by ImprovEverywhere on Feb 8, 2009

Rob gives 2,000 high fives standing by the escalator during the morning subway commute in NYC.
Produced and Created by Charlie Todd
At 1:27 Rob also gives a "low five".

Video #2: High Five! - Black Tulip Insights

Published on Mar 27, 2012 by leroytulip

What the international gesture of "High Five" means in the township. [of Johannesburg Area, South Africa]

"Black Tulip is a [Johannesburg, South Africa] consumer insight agency that is building a culture of invention and dedication to relevant and in touch communication."
Here's a transcript of that video:

High Five! - Black Tulip Insights
"High five. Yeah.
It’s when you greet somebody. Like this [demonstrates high five]

It’s hello. [laughs]

It’s when you greet somebody.

It means a greeting of someone.

A high five means like how are you.

Ah appreciation of a greeting, you know,’s not just like you’re normal greeting.
As friends, you know, yah, you can do it like that. We’ve seen it as a sign of ah appreciation each other.

It’s either a greeting or a sign of excitement. It depends. On each context are the same high five.

Watching soccer and our team score I go high five. [demonstrates that action]. We celebrate.
We celebrating for some special things happen in a moment. Or when you’re greeting the guys. If somebody greets you, you give a high five. [demonstrates] High five, brother!

Or if something fascinates you, you give a high five. It’s a sign of fascination. It’s a sign of appreciation. You say, yah, this is a [?] you do a high five.

Maybe a form of celebration or whatever.

Just give a someone a high five who’s done something extraordinary [demonstrates] . Like this.

Have more value, you know, than if you say “Hi”.
Or if you see somebody you haven’t seen for quite some time, you go “I haven’t seen you [demonstrates the high five]

I learned from Township. You gotta do it. That’s where I learned it from “High five.” “High five”.

Like it, it is used. Where we use it mostly like is I think most of our crew like we always give each other high fives [demonstrates] “High five, “High five” any language.

You don’t need to force it. You don’t need to force it. It must come naturally. The educated class [?] high five. High five.

[End of Video]
Transcription by Azizi Powell. Corrections and additions are very welcome. The spaces indicate comments of different individuals. Some of the speakers were quoted more than one time. The brackets with a question mark indicates that I was unsure what was said.

Along with the meanings that these men gave to high fives, I would also add that doing a high five can also mean jubilation.

Example #3: 2012 Beetle High Five Volkswagen Commercial

Uploaded by openwheel6 on Sep 19, 2011

I did the driving for this commercial. I do not own the rights to this commercial.
The high fives shown in these three videos were all single handed gestures (one person slapping with his or her extended right palm and the other person meeting that slap with his or her extended left palm. However, high fives can also be two handed.

Examples of high fives are found in other videeos of this five part hand gesture series.

An example of the Sesame Street character "Elmo" giving a high five can be found at 3:01-3:02 in Video #2 of this pancocojams post: Another example of Elmo giving a high five can be found in the beginning of this video clip of Elmo singing with a beatboxer

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