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.
Series of Gestures
At its most basic, a dap greeting is simply a ritualized handshake, but it usually includes a series of other gestures, with the gestures being performed in a specific and choreographed order. Many people learn dap greetings when they are very young, by watching and interacting with other people in their communities. Often, such greetings are exchanged almost reflexively, much like businessmen shake hands when meeting each other.
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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.
Among groups of friends or people in the same community, it is common for a distinctive dap greeting to evolve and for such greetings to be exchanged on a regular basis. From the point of view of sociologists and anthropologists, the use of such greetings is very intriguing. They can indicate solidarity, membership in a specific group and social status, among other things.