Friday, October 9, 2015

Five Videos Of Foot Stomping Cheers With Or Without The Foot Stomping Movements

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post provides five videos of foot stomping cheer routines or foot stomping cheers themselves with or without the accompanying foot stomping routines.

The content of this post is presented for folkloric, cultural, recreational, and aesthetic purposes.

Thanks to all those who are featured in these videos and thanks to all those who published these examples on the internet.

"Foot stomping cheers" is the term that I coined in 2000 for a relatively new category of children's recreational play that involves chanting and choreographed foot and hand clapping movements.

I believe that foot stomping cheers are an updated form of African Americans' (and other Americans') "show me your motion" circle games. "Going To Kentucky" is a widely known example of a "show me your motion" circle game.

The 1978 vinyl/LP record Old Mother Hippletoe-Rural And Urban Children's Songs (New World Records ‎– NW 291) is the earliest recording or print documentation that I have found of a new style of children's recreational chanting and performance activity that I have termed "foot stomping cheers". "Foot stomping cheers" have a textual structure and "traditional" performance style that is distinct from hand clap rhymes, jump rope rhymes, other cheerleader cheers, and other categories of children's recreational rhymes. That record featured four examples of African American girls from Washington D. C. performing cheers in 1973-1975. One of those examples are combinations of two different cheers. At least two of the cheer examples that are featured on that record - one entitled "Cheering Is My Game" and one entitled "Hollywood Now Swingin" - fit the textual structure of what I refer to as "foot stomping cheers".

Click for a pancocojams post about the cheer examples that are featured on the "Old Mother Hippletoe" Record.

Foot stomping cheers "traditionally" have a signature group call & consecutive soloist response structure. "Group call" means that the entire group (or the group minus the first soloist) is heard first. "Consecutive soloist"' means that in that cheer is immediately repeated from the beginning so that every member of the squad can an opportunity to be the soloist. Each soloist's performance is the same length. Some foot stomping cheers have several group calls followed by brief responses by the soloist before the soloist has a somewhat longer verbal and/or movement response. Other foot stomping cheers have one or two group calls followed by the soloist's verbal and/or movement response.

Another signature feature of the textual style of foot stomping cheers is that the cheer is supposed to be repeated in its entirety (sometimes with soloist text changes and sometimes not) until every group member has one turn as the soloist.

Traditionally, foot stomping cheers are chanted while the group performs a synchronized, percussive routine in which individual hand claps (chanters clapping their own hands) (and sometimes substitutes hand claps for body pats) and alternates those hand claps with bass sounding foot stomps. Once this foot stomping routine begins, it is supposed to continue throughout the routine. However, toward the end of most examples of foot stomping cheers that I've found, the soloist chants a verse or line. That soloist's portion serves as a "call" and the group has a responsive line or lines during that call. While the rest of the group watches, the soloist usually performs a dance step or steps, and/or pantomime movements, and/or gymnastic movements during this portion of the cheer. In some cheers that I've found, the cheer ends with the entire group-including the soloist- performing the same exact movements that the soloist performed. The cheer then immediately begins from the beginning with the next soloist and that pattern continues until every member of the group has had a turn as the soloist (hence the term "consecutive soloists). Each soloist turn is exactly the same length. In some cheers, the words and movements are exactly the same with each soloist, except for personal information such as the soloist's name or nickname and the soloist's astrological sun sign. In other cheers, the words for the soloist portions can change within a seemingly small memorized, formulaic set of verses that have the same theme and the same rhythmical pattern.

It appears to me that one difference between "old school" foot stomping cheers, and those types of cheers that are performed since at least the 1990s (which I call "neo-foot stomping cheers")is that instead of being informally performed by children or pre-teens pretending to be cheerleaders, these cheers (or modified versions of these cheers) are performed by actual (children's and teenage) cheerleaders either during the warm up to a game, or during "cheer offs" (cheer competitions), or as part of the cheerleading squad's cheer performances during actual athletic competitions. It appears to me that the post 1990s neo forms of foot stomping cheer performances have much less foot stomping or no foot stomping at all- particularly when these cheers are performed by squads that are majority White. Instead of actual syncopated, choreographed foot stomping routines, nowadays performances of modified or actual foot stomping cheers (particularly with squads which are majority White) feature much more pantomiming of actions, such as "turn around" and "touch the ground". Also, it appears to me that these neo foot stomping cheer performances by majority non-Black squads appears to feature little to no dance moves, and more actual standing, jumping up and down, and shaking pompoms. Furthermore, all individual members of the squad may not have a turn as the soloist. Instead, the squad is divided into sub-sets (such as school grade levels, or two or more line formations) that have their own "soloists time". Also, instead of individual soloist, or sub-sets of the squad, the entire squad might recite these neo-foot stomping cheers.

Text examples-words only- and to a much limited extent video examples of old school foot stomping cheers and neo-foot stomping cheers are found throughout this pancocojams blog.


(Numbers are chanted from 1 to 7 while the group does a foot stomping/stepping routine.

Sesame Street - Girls clap out a song about seven

wattamack4, Uploaded on Aug 1, 2007
Girls counting to number seven while performing a foot stomping routine.
I believe that foot stomping routines probably emerged from "steppin'". Steppin is a performance movement that is most associated with historically Black Greek letter fraternities and sororities.

This is a foot stomping routine with a modified, scripted foot stomping cheer text.

Sesame Street - Girls clap out a song about K

Uploaded on Jul 11, 2007

Title says it all.

All: Ka Ka Ka K
Ka Ka Ka K
Ka Ka Ka
Ka Ka Ka
Ka Ka Ka K
Soloist: Well, my name is Kiana
My letter is K
K like a kite
and you blow me away
K turns the key
K’s a kick for me
All: Ka Ka Ka K
Ka Ka Ka K
Ka Ka Ka
Ka Ka Ka
Ka Ka Ka K
Group without Kiana: Well her name is Kiana
Her letter is K
[another girl speaks alone]: K like a kangaroo
Hoppin all day
All: K is a king
A kiss
K is like this [each girl stands along and holds out her arms and legs in a replication of the letter k)
*This cheer that was written for that Sesame Street segment to teach children words that begin with the letter K. This is my transcription of that cheer. Note that once the stomping routine begins, it continues without any pauses throughout the entire cheer.

The beginning (and repeated) group response in "Sesame Street's Letter K" cheer uses the same tune as a foot stomping cheer "L.O.V.E." that I collected in the early to mid 1980s from my daughter and her friends and by other female schoolmates (African American girls ages 6-12 years, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania). Sesame Street's Letter K also has a textual structure that is quite similar to The beginning soloist's response is also similar to the response that is found in that particular foot stomping cheer and in many other foot stomping cheers. The text for L.O.V.E." is as follows:
All: L-O-V-E. L-O-V-E. L-O-V. L-O-V.
Soloist #1: Well, Kayla’s my name.
And love is my game.
I got this boy on my mind.
And Lord knows he’s fine.
He calls me his girl,
His number 1 girl.
I don’t know his sign
But Taurus is mine.
All: L-O-V-E. L-O-V-E. L-O-V. L-O-V.

[Repeat with the next soloist who repeats the words of the cheer but gives her name or nickname and her astrological sun sign. The soloist may also choose to say another verse that fits this theme. Click for an example of another soloist verse that I collected for this cheer.]

As demonstrated above, the textual structure for "Sesame Street's K Cheer" differs from "real" foot stomping cheers in these regards:
1. There's basically only one soloist for this cheer. Foot stomping cheers have consecutive soloists and each soloist has the same amount of solo time.
2. The soloist portion is longer than the soloist portions for real foot stomping cheers.
3. Real foot stomping cheers have no definitive ending like the ending for this "Sesame Street Letter K" cheer.

The Sesame Street's Letter K's foot stomping routine differs somewhat from the "L.O.V.E. "routine that I observed a number of times. The Sesame Street format of girls standing in several horizontal lines with the leader alone in front differs from the usual formation that I observed in Pittsburgh. That formation changed over time. Initially, when girls were "doing cheers", they stood in a semi-circle with no soloist in front. The order of soloist was determined by who shouted "first, second, third etc. fastest, but girls didn't stand in numbers ranking order. And the soloist didn't step forward when it was her turn to be soloist. When foot stomping cheers were performed on stage, the girls still stood in a semi-circle or in a horizontal line facing the front (again, without the girls standing in soloist numbers order). However, when it was the soloist's turn, she would step forward. For each performance, all soloist would either step in front of their place in the semi-circle or horizontal line, or step to the front of the center of the semi-circle/line. When their soloist portion ended, the girls would -still facing forward- step back either to their place in the semi-circle or line or to the center of the semi-circle or line.

The foot patting motion that the girls in the video did is the same or very similar to the motion that I recall was performed to the "L.O.V.E." foot stomping cheer. I never saw that movement performed for any other cheer that I observed in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area.

This is a foot stomping cheer with no foot stomping routine. Instead, the group claps to the beat and each soloist in turn does a gymnastic movement.

Popcorn on a train

Ashaletta Johnson, Uploaded on May 14, 2011
The pinks

Popcorn on a train.
Popcorn on a train.
Watch [girl's name] do her thing.
She said ah
Boom tic tic Boom tic.
Boom tic tic Boom tic.
Popcorn on a train.
[The girl whose name is called does a gymnastic motion]
The cheer then repeats from the beginning with the next girl whose name is chanted. That girl also does a gymnastic motion, a different one or one that has been done before.]

[When all the girls have had one turn as the soloist, they all say in unison]
Popcorn on a train.
Popcorn on a train.
Watch The Pinks [group name] do their thing.
We said ah
Boom tic tic Boom tic.
Boom tic tic Boom tic.
Popcorn on a train.
*Transcription by Azizi Powell, with corrections by the video publisher, Ashaletta Johnson.

In 2014 a commenter, Kassie Edwards, wrote:
"Y'all must be from st Pete!!!! I can't find anyone outside of st Pete who knows this chant cept we do ours a lil freaky as a child we were fast!!! Lol"
"St Pete's" is St. Petersburg, Florida. Erica Nichols, another commenter also wrote on that video's discussion thread in 2014 that she knew this cheer from St. Pete's and couldn't find the words to this cheer anywhere. However, the video publisher wrote that these girls were from Durham, North Carolina. And a few examples of this cheer can be found on YouTube and elsewhere online as an introductory exercise for children.

Kassie Edwards shared her version of "Popcorn On The Chain" [note the different title] without any information about any accompanying movements. That version converted to song format is:
"Popcorn popcorn on the chain
watch blank do her thang.
she said a lemon a lime
lemon-lime bump n grind.
she turned to the back
she booming in her Cadillac
she turn to the front
and this is what she said,
boom check check boom check,
boom chick* check boom check
boom check check boom check.
Aww she did it!
*The word chick in that line is probably a typo and is supposed to be "check".

Example #4: HULA HULA
This is a foot stomping cheer with no foot stomping routine or any other accompanying movement shown.

Hula Hula! Who think she bad?

Naturalandthecity, Uploaded on Dec 22, 2011
First girl: Hula Hula, who think she bad.
Second girl: I do.
First girl: Hula Hula, who think she bad.
Second girl: I do.
I think I'm bad
'Cause Riska's my name.
Pink is my color.
Don't you worry 'bout my brother.
First girl: Ooh, she think she bad.
Second girl: Correction baby, I KNOW I'm bad.
First girl: Ooh, she thinks she's hip.
Second girl: Hip enough to steal your chips.

*Transcription by Azizi Powell
I believe that the words "hula hula" originally meant "hello!" and has nothing to do with the Hawaiian Hula dance or the "hula hoops" toys.

"Bad" means "very good". "Brother" probably means "boyfriend"/"your man".

The cheer would immediately begin from the beginning after the last line. The next soloist would say her name and her favorite color.
"Hula Hula" appears to have been a rather widely known foot stomping cheer. Click for an example of "Hula Hula" from Barbara Michels' and Bettye White's 1983 book Apple On A Stick, The Folklore of Black Children.

Here's an example of "Hula Hula" that I collected from my daughter and her friends in the mid 1980s (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My daughter collected the same exact cheer in 1996 from African American girls at a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area summer camp.)

All of the group except for the soloist:
Hula Hula, who thinks they bad.
Soloist: I do.
Group: Hula Hula, who thinks they bad.
Soloist: I do.
Group: Ool! You think you bad. (or "Ool, she think she bad.")
Soloist #1: Correction, Baby, I KNOW I’m bad.
Group: Ool!, you think you smart. (or "Ool, she think she's smart.")
Soloist #1: Smart enough to break YOUR heart.
Group: OOl, you think you tuff?
Soloist #1: Tuff enough to strut my stuff
Cause when I twist
like this
The boys cannot resist.
and when I turn
I burn
and break down like a worm

(Repeat the entire chant with the next soloist until everyone has had a turn as soloist.)

Directions: The group (usually all girls) choose the order of soloists, and then start the beat (“step”) that goes with this cheer. Stomp, Clap, Stomp Stomp clap. This is the step pattern that is used with the majority of foot stomping cheers.

Example #5: MOVE GIRL
This is a modified [?] foot stomping cheer chanted by the group with the soloist not chanting but doing a dance for her solo portion. The group claps and moves to the beat, but doesn't do any foot stomping.

Shaw Cheerleaders "Move Girl"

Brandon Thurman, Uploaded on Jan 9, 2011

Shaw High School Cheerleaders Before the game hype
You betta move
girl you betta move.
[say both lines(3x)]
Now drop it low
Drop it low.
Drop it low
Drop it low
-Shaw High School [transcription of the video given below]
*These lyrics were transcribed by me from the video and corrected by several commenters in the discussion thread of that video.

Notice that the girls are standing in a circle, with the soloist in the middle. While I never observed this format for foot stomping, I've read elsewhere online that foot stomping cheers were (are?) performed in a circle.

Notice that the soloist's name isn't called. And, unlike most other foot stomping cheers, the soloist doesn't speak, but does her own dance while the others chant.

"Now drop it low" means to dance down [close] to the ground, and then come back up.

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