After a couple days away from school, it's always nice to see your friends again, isn't it? Even if you're not excited about jumping right back into schoolwork, the smiling faces of your closest buddies can quickly turn a frown upside down.
Instead, it's much more likely that you greet them with a high five, a fist bump, or maybe even a more intricate greeting that involves various hand gestures made in a special, prearranged sequence. If that's the case, you're giving dap.
Many kids might not be aware that those "secret" handshakes and elaborate greetings they give one another — often copied from their favorite professional athletes — have both a name ("dap") and an interesting history. Let's take a closer look at what lies beyond the simple handshake.
Today, giving dap takes on many forms and includes a wide variety of gestures. Common examples include the high five, the chest bump, the fist bump, the pound (a vertical fist bump), the hand slap followed by a forearm chest bump, and the arm-wrestling grip grasp pulled into a half hug.
Examples of giving dap can be seen frequently among professional athletes during games. The influence of athletes on popular culture also means that you can see similar gestures between adults of all ages in daily greetings, as well as among children on playgrounds and in school hallways.
Where did these unique alternatives to the traditional handshake get their start? Historians trace giving dap back to the late 1960s when African-American soldiers stationed in the Pacific during the Vietnam War developed their own special greetings.
The 1960s was a decade of substantial racial turbulence in the United States. Unfortunately, that racial unrest didn't disappear when soldiers were sent overseas to fight a war in Southeast Asia. The dap became a symbol among African-American men of strength and unity.
In fact, "dap" is an acronym that stands for "dignity and pride." More than just a greeting, the dap became a sort of language that helped these men communicate solidarity, identity, and cultural unity.
The dap meant they were committed to looking after one another. The first versions of the dap included gestures mean to convey the following message: "I'm not above you, you're not above me, we're side by side, we're together."
When African-American soldiers returned from Vietnam, they continued to give dap on the streets of their hometowns. The gestures went mainstream and were adopted by a wide variety of people from all sorts of backgrounds.