Monday, October 12, 2015

Early Examples Of Children's Cheers From The 1978 "Old Mother Hippletoe" Record

Edited by Azizi Powell

[Revised September 18, 2016]

This post provides four* text examples of children's cheers from the 1978 vinyl record Old Mother Hippletoe-Rural And Urban Children's Songs (New World NW 291). Two of those examples are combinations of two different cheers. According to the record notes, these examples were performed by "Washington D. C. schoolgirls" in 1973-1975 and were recorded by Kate Rinzler in 1976.

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".
Those examples represent the earliest sound files or print documentation that I've found of that new style of children's recreational activity.

This post includes record notes written by Kate Rinzler about those examples. My comments about those examples and information about foot stomping cheers that I've collected are included in the Addendum to this post.

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Note: I received permission to reprint these examples from a representative of New World Records to reprint examples from that Mother Hippletoe on my cultural website. Because that website is no longer active, I'm transferring these text examples and record notes to this pancocojams blog.

Thanks to the girls who are featured in this record. Thanks also to the collectors and of these examples and all those who were affiliated with this record.

[Record Notes by Kate Rinzler]

Band 3
Think; Your Left; Cheering Is My Game; Hollywood Now Swingin'/Dynomite
Barbara Borum and other Washington, D.C., schoolgirls, vocals.
Recorded 1976 in Washington, D.C., by Kate Rinzler.
"Unlike the more communal games, neighborhood cheerleading as performed by girls in Washington, D.C., requires rehearsal and is often dominated by a single dynamic girl who solicits recruits and kicks out slackers. Girls practice by themselves, best friends cheer together, groups proliferate, and everyone who wants to gets into the act.

In 1973-75, fieldwork for the Festival of American Folklife revealed cheerleading girls taking turns doing a dance step or a simple gymnastic trick. In 1976, perhaps because of the popularity on television of the Olympic Games, there was a sudden citywide interest in gymnastic pyrotechnics: complete frontward and sideward splits, forward and backward flips, and cartwheels ending in jumped splits.

The texts of the cheers suit the girls' growing sense of attractiveness, group solidarity, and allegiance to school and boyfriend. They also attest to their knowledge and misinformation about forbidden subjects —inebriation, aggression, sexuality—and to their interest in the heroes and heroines of movies that exploit these subjects.

CALL: You better think!
CALL: How you goin' tell your mother?
RESPONSE: How you goin' tell your mother?


How you goin' tell your father?
How you goin' tell your sister?
How you goin' tell your brother?
Don't let the Skins heat the pants offa you!
Only advice I can give to you-ou,
Only thing I got t' tell you to do,

Page 28

Your left, your left,
Your left, right, left.
I say my back is aching!
My skirt's too tight!
My hips swinging like dynomite!


Go, go, go, go, the mighty Skins!
Fight, fight, fight, fight, the
mighty Skins!
Win, win, win, win, win, the
mighty Skins!
Go, go, go, go, go, go, go, whooo!

Dn, dn, dn, dn, dn. (Twice)
CALL: Barbara. Barbara is my name.
RESPONSE : Dn, dn, dn, dn, dn,


Cheering, cheering is my game.
Freddie, Freddie was my man.
But Ken is my main man.
Dn, dn, dn, dn, dn. (Twice)

Cheer continues as each girl
announces her name and boyfriends.

Hollywood now swingin'! (4 times)
CALL: Name is Nita.
RESPONSE: Hollywood now swingin'!


I know how to swing.
Every time I swing,
Stevie come around.
CALL: He popped me once.
He popped me twice!
All I felt was—dynomite!
RESPONSE: Dynomite, dynomite!


CALL: Here she is.


Foxy Brown!
You mess with me,
I'll shoot you down!
Down, down,
To the ground, Up, up,
CALL: Just out of luck!
RESPONSE: Dynomite, dynomite!

For the purpose of this post I capitalized the titles of these cheers and removed the spacing from the lines.

The cheer examples featured in Old Mother Hippletoe are interesting in part because they represent several different categories of children's cheers.

The call & response structure of the first example, "Think" doesn't fit the "go fight win" structure of standard cheerleader cheers. However, it also doesn't fit the "group call, consecutive soloist structure" that I've identified is a signature structure for what I refer to as "foot stomping cheers" [I'll describe that structure later).

I believe that the second example, entitled "Your Left", is actually a combination of that cheer and another cheer which I'll title "Go, Go The Mighty Skins". The title "Your Left" and its first and second lines are lifted from the widely known "Sound Off" (Duckworth Chant" military cadence. (That cadence and many others are of African American origin.) The third and fourth lines of "Your Left" also have their sources in military cadences. Those lines are now found in the rather well known recreational composition which is mostly known now as "Bang Bang Choo Choo Train". "Bang Bang Choo Choo Train" is most often chanted either as part of a hand clap game or as part of a children's cheer leading cheer. I'm not sure if those line were chanted as a hand clap rhyme in the 1970s. But they probably weren't chanted as a cheerleader cheer then, given the fact that mainstream children's cheerleading looked down upon (and still sometimes looks down upon) any hip shaking.

The "Go Go, The Mighty Skins" lines conform to the standard structure of standard (mainstream) cheerleading cheers.

The call & response example entitled "Cheering Is My Game" has a structure that is similar to what I refer to as "foot stomping cheers" except that it starts with a soloist voice instead of the group voice. Notice that the instructions are that the "Cheer continues us each girl announces her name and boyfriends."

I believe that the cheer entitled "Hollywood Now Swingin'"/ "Dynomite" may be two stand alone cheers. The first example "Hollywood Now Swingin'" definitely fits the description of a foot stomping cheers, while the second example might fit that example. Furthermore, I've observed (in person) examples of foot stomping cheers entitled "Hollywood Swingin'" and found other examples of that cheer online. I've not found any examples of "Think" or "Dynomite".

"Foot stomping cheers" is the term that I coined in 2000 for a relatively new category of children's recreational play for a new category of children's recreational activity. "Foot stomping cheers" have a distinctive textual structure and "traditional" performance styles that are distinct from hand clap rhymes, jump rope rhymes, other types of children's cheerleader cheers, and other categories of children's recreational rhymes.

Foot stomping cheers have a signature group call & consecutive soloist response structure. "Group call" means that the cheer starts with the group voice and a soloist responds to that group statement or question. 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.

"Consecutive soloists" means that the cheer immediately starts over again from the beginning with each member of the group having one turn as the soloist. Each soloist has the exact same amount of soloist time.

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.

I've never observed (in person or via online videos) any examples of foot stomping cheer performances which included gymnastic stunts such as splits or cartwheels. However, Rinzler may have been referring to other sub-categories of cheers that she observed during that session.

I believe that foot stomping cheers are a subset of children's cheerleading cheers and I agree with Ms. Rinzler's conclusion that the textual examples of these cheers and their performance activity were influenced by mainstream cheerleading. However, I also believe that these cheer examples and their performance activity were also influenced by African American cultural products such as hand clap rhymes and military cadences. Furthermore, I believe that foot stomping cheers (text and performance activities) were* also influenced by other African American cultural indices, each of which were (also?) centered in the Washington D. C./Virginia and/or North Carolina areas of the United States in the late 1960s, 1970s:
-historically Black Greek letter fraternity and sorority steppin'*
-Washington D.C. Go Go Music
-Stomp and Shake cheerleading
-Funk music

"Stomp & Shake cheerleading is another closely related African performance movement art form that originated in Virginia and/or North Carolina in the late 1960s/1970s.

*Although there's documentation that some form of steppin' may have occurred as early as 1925, steppin' much as it is known now, wasn't performed and wasn't referred to by that term until the mid to late 1970s.

I further believe that the foot stomping movements of steppin', foot stomping cheers, and stomp & shake cheerleading were heavily influenced by high stepping (show style) Black marching bands.

In contrast to the description given in the "Old Mother Hippletoe" record notes, my observations of foot stomping cheer performances is that "traditionally" those cheers are (or were) chanted while the group (informally, as part of their recreational activities) performed a synchronized, percussive routine in which individual hand claps (chanters clapping their own hands) alternating with the group performing rhythmical bass sounding foot stomps, and sometimes also body pats. It appears from my research that foot stomping cheers in the 1980s & 1990s were performed informally (with no actual audience) by at least two but usually around three to five pre-teen or younger girls who stood in a semi-circle, horizontal line, circle, or a vertical line/s.

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, pantomime movements, 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. In other cheers, the words for the soloist portions can change within a seemingly prescribed manner.

Currently, more and more "mainstream" (i.e. mostly White) high school & younger cheerleading squads perform "foot stomps" that are modifications of the "traditional" styles that are described above. Specifically, there is much less or no foot stomping, and much more pantomiming of actions, such as "turn around" and "touch the ground". Also, (I think it's fair to say dependent upon whether the majority of the squad is African American or not), in these forms of cheers that are performed nowadays, there also appears to be 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.

*Note that I wrote "were influenced". I'm using past tense because-since I stopped collecting children's rhymes and cheers in person around 2007 in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania- I don't know if these particular foot stomping cheers or foot stomping cheers that have the same textual structure that I've described (starting with the group voice, followed by consecutive soloists, with the cheer immediately starting from the beginning with each soloist.) I'm also not sure if children are still doing synchronized foot stomping routines while chanting these cheers as I described above.

I should also mention that the earliest example of foot stomping cheers that I actually collected online is from the "late 1970s":

"Hey girl, hey you, introduce yourself. Introduce yourself."
Then each individual girl says a rhyme about themselves, like,
"My name is Joan (group says "check") I'm from AC ("check") I come to say ("check") Don't mess with me ("Check it out")
-Joan C.(Anglo-American female ; chanted by Black, Latino, and White girls at Catholic High School in Atlantic City, New Jersey, late 1970s; electronic message to Azizi Powell; 2/11/2007
This is the earliest foot stomping cheer that I've ever collected-excluding the Mother Hippletoe record examples that are from 1976.

Remarkably, Joan C and I both blogged on Mudcat's online folk music discussion forum, but I didn't "know" her. I had shared some foot stomping examples on several Mudcat discussion threads, and Joan sent me this example. Prior to her sending me that example, I had no idea that she was from my hometown of Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Click for Part I of a two part pancocojams series on "Foot Stomping Cheers". The link for Part II of that series is given in that post.

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