Monday, November 28, 2011

References To Astrology In Children's Cheers

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is the first post in an ongoing series of posts on English language children's playground rhymes & cheers. Most of the examples featured in these posts are from African American playground rhymes from the 1980s - 2006.

This post reflects my interest in children's playground rhymes & cheers and my interest in astrology. This is only a very small sample of examples of children's cheers that I've collected which include references to astrology. I've limited this post to a few examples of a sub-set of children's cheers that I refer to as "foot stomping cheers", and I've included some general information about that relatively recent form of children's recreational activity.

"Foot stomping cheers" is my term for a sub-set of children's cheerleader cheers which appears to have originated among African American school girls in the mid 1970s. Briefly put, foot stomping cheers are formulaic compositions which have a modified call & response structure that I refer to as "group/consecutive soloist". What "group/consecutive soloist" means is that the group voice is the first voice that is heard in those cheers. A designated soloist responds to the rest of the group's words and those voices alternate until that rendition ends (usually with the soloist's voice or the soloist & the rest of the group's voice). However, the cheer immediately begins again with the next designated soloist and this pattern continues until every member of the group has had a turn as the soloist.

Foot stomping cheers are chanted while their performers execute choreographed, syncopated, percussive movement routines that are very similar to African American originated Greek lettered fraternity & sorority stepping (steppin). Most foot stomping cheers use this beat pattern: "stomp clap/ stomp stomp/ clap". Another beat pattern is "stomp stomp clap/ stomp stomp clap." Those two standard beat patterns appear to be used for all foot stomping cheers. Moderate tempo 4/4 beats created by those foot stomps alternate with the chanters'(individual) hand claps, body pats (especially thigh pats), and less frequently, finger snaps. Because these 4/4 beats are omnipresent in R&B, Hip-Hop, Rock, Gospel, and other forms of music, foot stomping cheer routines aren't that difficult for many African Americans (and others) to learn.

The well known 1977 record "We Will Rock You" by Queen is an excellent example of a Rock song that has a 4/4 beat and therefore could serve as a backdrop for a foot stomping routine (recognizing, of course, that foot stomping chants aren't meant to be performed to recorded music). For more information on & additional examples of foot stomping cheers other than those found on this post, click (hereafter given as "Cocojams:FSC"). Also, click for video examples of the related movement art of stepping.

I've no doubt that the reason for references to sun sign astrology in those children's cheers is that sun sign astrology is mentioned in a number of R&B songs. Some of those song are the direct source for specific children's cheers. Other R&B songs which mention/ed sun sign astrology just help/ed to familiarize children with that form of astrology. Here's an excerpt from

Sun sign astrology is the form of astrology most commonly found in many newspaper and magazine columns. It is a simplified system of astrology which considers only the position of the Sun, which is said to be placed within one of the twelve zodiac signs depending on the month of birth. This sign is then called the sun sign or star sign of the person born that month.
Click to find a post about Astrology In African American Records.


Without further prefacing comments, here are five examples of foot stomping cheers that mention astrology. The astrological references are given in italic to highlight them:

Super Superstar
Akira is my name
Kickball is my game
Winning on my mind
Scorpio is my number one sign
Super Superstar
Super Superstar
Nathalee is my name
Basketball is my game
Winning on my mind
Leo is my number one sign
Super Superstar
- Barbara Mitchells & Bettye White, Apples On A Stick, The Folklore of Black Children(New York, Coward -McCann, Inc, 1983, p. 12)

All: Hollywood goes swinging.
Swinging for the good times.
Swinging for the bad times
Soloist #1: My name is Ebony.
(And) I’m cool and the gang.
You mess with me
and I’ll do my thang.
My sign is Libra
and that’s alright
cause all Libra’s
are out of sight.

Hey you,
check it out!
You! You!
Check it out!
-T. M. P., (African American female);Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, mid 1980s; transcribed from audio tape by Azizi Powell, 1996; Cocojams:FSC

Editor: The line "I'm cool and the gang" is rather interesting because Kool & The Gang was the Pop group that recorded the hit song "Hollywood Swinging" in 1973. However, those chanting that line may think that phrase means the slang definition of "cool" (hip, up to date with the latest street culture).

It also should be noted that the tune of foot stomping cheers (and other playground cheers & rhymes) that are based on Pop recordings, R&B recordings, or songs from other genres, are usually similar to the tune of those recordings/songs.

All: Cheer.
Are you ready?
Soloist #1: Shayla.
They call me Rosa.
Soloist #2: Shana.
They call me Poo.
Soloist #3: Shana.
They call me Shay.
Soloist #4: Jamie.
They call me Jay Jay.
Soloist #5: Jackie.
They call me HaJack (HighJack?).
All: Cheer.
Zodiac signs.
Soloist #1: Aquarius.
That’s a dog.
Soloist #2: Cancer.
That’s a crab.
Soloist #3: Leo.
That’s a lion.
Soloist #4: Scorpio.
That’s a spider.
Soloist #5: Scorpio.
That’s a spider.

All: Cheer.
Are you ready?
Soloist #1: 348-5110.
Group: Always busy.
Soloist #2: 348-4554.
Group: Always busy.
Soloist #3 348-3322
Group: Always busy.
Soloist #4: 348-5779
Group: Always busy.
Soloist #5 348-4285
Group: Always busy.
-Shayla, Shana, Shana, Jamie, and Jackie {African American females about 10 years-12 years old}, Braddock, PA; 1985; collected by Azizi Powell, 1985 (transcription of audio tape recording)

Editor: Note that the symbols for Aquarius and Scorpio are incorrect.

Rock the boat,
Rock, rock the boat
My name is Yasmin (rock the boat)
I know I'm fine (rock the boat)
Just like my sign (rock the boat)
My sign is Leo
I go bang-bang choo choo train
Wind me up and I do my thing
Reeses pieces butter cup
Don't mess with me, cause I'll mess you up,
Rock the boat, rock rock the boat...
-Yasmin H., (Latina; East New York, New York in the late 1980s); from email to

All: Really ah hah!
Really ah hah!
Soloist #1: Really my name is Lisa.
Really my sign is Aries.
Group except for soloist: Say what?
Soloist #1: Ah Aries.
Group: Say what?
Soloist #1: Cause I’m F-I-N-E fine.
Like a D-I-M-E. dime.
Don’t waste my T-I-M-E. time.
I'll blow your M-I-N-D mind.
Cause I’m a pro.
Group: Say what?
Soloist #1: A P-R-O.
Group: Say what?
Soloist #1: Cause I’m a triple P.
Triple R.
Triple O.
Sexy pro.

(Repeat entire cheer from the beginning with the next soloist. That soloist says her name or nickname, and gives her astrological sign. Continue in this pattern until every member of the informal group has had one turn as the soloist)
-African American girls ages 7-12 years attending Lillian Taylor summer camp, Pittsburgh, PA 1991-1992, collected by T.M.P., camp counselor, 1992

Update: I just found this segment of an "astrology" children's cheer in posted by tickledpink 12-30-2000

...what about just standing in the school yard @ recess time saying cheers:
Scorpio, sco scorpio...
My name is _______ "scorpiooo, sco scorpio.."
And I'm a Taurus "scorpio..." (why we called it scorpio, I'll never know...)
Editor: More examples & information about children's cheers that mention astrology & more examples of other types of foot stomping cheers can be found on this page of my website:

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.

No comments:

Post a Comment