USC marching band secret handshake


The folk object is a kind of handshake.

“Before a competition, or before a performance, people would just walk around and do the handshake and say like good luck, have a good run. “

“This is how you do it: Put two thumbs together, spin your fist upright, and then open your hand so it’s like an upside-down high five. And then make it right side up to shake hands. “

“Only people in our band knows how to do it.”


My informant plays at a marching band at USC. According to her, this handshake had been performed before she joined the marching band. She learned it and then she taught the freshman how to do it.


Handshake is a very common type of folk gesture, especially in the U.S. Special handshakes are signals of shared identity or signals of difference between in-groups and out-groups. Handshakes are connected with unity and commemoration. Although many people may not know each other in my informant’s marching band(because it’s a big band), when they greet each other with a handshake, they would know that they belong to the same place. Also, unity and a sense of belonging are what a marching band needs when it comes to performance because coordination and cooperation are essential to instrumental performance. The sense of belonging is also created by the daily practice, competition, and performance that the members of the marching band participated in, thus the handshake can also be the by-product of this sense of unity. My informant is a folklore carrier. Not only had she taught me about the folk gesture, but she also teaches the freshmen of the marching band.

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