Thursday, June 2, 2016

Examples Of "Hula Hula" (Who Think They Bad) Cheers

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post provides information about foot stomping cheers and several text (word only) examples of the foot stomping cheer "Hula Hula" or similar titles (first lines) such as "Who Now Who Now". "Hula Hula"'s second line for this cheer is "who think they bad" (or a similar line).

One video of "Hula Hula" cheer is also included in this post.

UPDATE: June 7, 2016: The Addendum to this post showcases several very similar cheers that don't include the "Hula Hula" (Who Now Who Now) words.

Added August 24, 2017

In the context of these songs and these cheers, "bad" is a self-bragging word that means "very good".

Since an example of the "Hula Hula"/ "who think they bad" cheer was included in the 1983 book by Barbara Michels and Bettye White, Editors: Apple On A Stick, The Folklore of Black Children, this rhyme predates both L.L. Cool J's June 1987 Hip-Hop record "I'm Bad" and Michael Jackson's August 1987 Pop record entitled "Bad". Given the existence of "Who thinks they bad" cheers before these two records, an argument could be made that the records had their source in the cheers, and not the other way around.

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

Thanks to all those who are shared these examples. Thanks also to those who are featured in the showcased video and thanks to the publisher of this video on YouTube.

"Foot stomping cheers" is the term that I coined in 2000 for a relatively new category of children's recreational play that is (was?) performed mostly by preteen and younger girls and that involves chanting and choreographed foot stomping combined with (individual) 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.

Towards the end of most examples of foot stomping cheers that I've found, the soloist chants a verse or line. During this portion of the cheer -while the rest of the group watches- the soloist usually performs a dance step or steps, and/or pantomime movements, and/or brief gymnastic movements. 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 one turn as the soloist (hence the term "consecutive soloists). Each soloist's turn is exactly the same length.

The main method for choosing the order of soloist that I observed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was how fast members of the group shouted out "first", "second", and "third". That soloist order remained throughout that entire session of cheers. That said, I also observed occasions where the first soloist was the girl with the strongest character. That girl might have suggested the idea for a cheer session and also might have suggested which cheers would be performed during that session.

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/s and the same rhythmical pattern.

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.

Most cheers that I observed (in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania mostly in the 1980s) had a "stomp stomp clap, stomp stomp clap" beat pattern. Another beat pattern that was used for some cheers was "stomp clap, stomp stomp clap". Either one of these metronome-like beat was performed using bass sounding foot stomps and individual hand claps (clapping your own hands) without stopping throughout the entire cheer. The tunes to the record "We Will Rock You" and the tune to the record "Fly Girl" serve as excellent examples of these beat patterns.

It appears to me that one difference between "old school" foot stomping cheers, and the types of cheers that are performed since at least the early 2000s (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 also appears to me that the post 1990s/early 2000s newer 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.

"Hula Hula" is an introduction, bragging, and taunting/confrontational foot stomping cheer. The earliest example of this cheer that I've found is from 1983 (Example #1 given below).

I believe that the words "hula hula" originally meant "Hello!", similar to the word "Howdy". Here's information about the English word "Howdy" from
"Howdy is an informal greeting, commonly thought to have originated as a shortened form of the greeting "How do you do?". It was first recorded as part of the South England dialect in 1680.[1] Literature from that period includes the use of "How-do, how-do" and "How" as a greeting used by the Scottish when addressing Anglo settlers in greeting. The double form of the idiom is still found in parts of Texas as "Howdy, howdy". Without regard to etymological beginnings, the word is used as a greeting such as "Hello" and not, normally, as an enquiry."...
As such the word "Hula Hula" in these cheers have nothing to do with the Hawaiian Hula dance or with the "hula hoops" toys. Notice the title "Hello" that was given for the example presented below as Example #3.

Like a number of other foot stomping cheers from the late 1970s and the 1980s, "Hula Hula" documents these African American females' twin values of toughness and being sexy (being able to attract boys). While the girls who chanted these cheers talk tough, it should be noted that (as is the case with all other foot stomping cheers), these cheers are indeed "acts" - these girls are (or were) engaging in a form of dramatization, and aren't (or weren't) as tough or as ready for romantic and sexual relationships as the words of these cheers suggest.

In addition to the example that I collected from my adopted hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1980s to aroun 2006), the other geographical locations that were noted for these cheers are Houston, Texas; Memphis, Tennessee; and Connecticut.
Update: August 24, 2017
A few lines from this cheer are found in Kyra D. Gaunt's 2006 book Games Black Girl's Play.... One version of that cheer was from Ann Arbor, Michigan and another version is from Denver, Colorado.

These examples are given in relative chronological order (by decade) or by the date that the example was published online (with the oldest dated example given first).

[Updated June 7, 2016 with Example #6 placed at the end without regard to its collection date.]

Example #1: HULA HULA
Hula hula
Now who thinks they bad
Hula hula
Now who thinks they bad
I think I’m bad
‘Cause Acie my name
And toys is my game
Take a sip of my potion
And dance in slow motion
She thinks she bad
Baby baby don’t make me mad
She thinks she cool
Baby baby don’t act a fool
She think she sweet
Sweetest person you ever meet
She thinks she fine
Baby baby I’ll blow your mind
-Barbara Michels and Bettye White, Editors: Apple On A Stick, The Folklore of Black Children (Putnam Juvenile; First Edition November 11, 1983)
The examples in this book were given without performance instructions or the specific category of playground rhyme or cheer. However, this example's text structure is characteristic of what I refer to as "foot stomping cheer". That said, I don't know if this example was performed using synchronized foot stomping choreography.

The word "bad" in these cheers means "very good", "hip" (up to date with the latest African American urban street culture).

Example #2: HULA HULA
(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.
TMP, mid 1980s, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (collected by Azizi Powell); My daughter TMP collected the exact same cheer in 1996 from 7-12 year old African American girls who attended Lillian Taylor summer camp (Most of the boys and girls who attended that camp were African American. They lived in various neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.)

Example #3: HELLO
we are here
to say hello to Mocha

Mocha is my name
and cheering is my game
Pink and purple are my colors
don't you worry 'bout my lovers.
(Uhm she think she bad)
Correction baby, I know I'm bad.
(Uhm, she think she cool)
Cool enough to steal your dude.
(Uhm, she think she fine)
Fine enough to blow his mind.
-Miss. Mocha,, 03-28-2003
Comment from Honeykiss1974 03-28-2003, 10:51 AM

OHHHH Thank you Miss Mocha for this chant!

This one takes me BACK!!!! *lol* WAYY! BACK!!!
I remember doing this chant during recess in the third grade!
Note: Participants in this discussion shared their memories of childhood rhymes & cheers (chants). All of the participants were members of historically Black Greek letter sororities. From certain comments made in this discussion and from a screen name that includes the year "1974" which is probably a birth year, my guess is that most of these examples were from the 1980s.

That said, one example entitled "Tell it" mentions the rapper Nas who wasn't active until 1991.

Example #4: WHO NOW WHO NOW
Who now Who now, Now who think they bad
Who now Who now, Now who think they bad
I do
I know I'm bad cause Afro's my name
Uh Huh
Football's my game
Uh Huh
Black is my color dont u worry about my lover
Um she think she bad
Bad bad super bad, bad enough I know I'm bad
Um she think she tough
Tough tough super tough tough enough to kick your butt
Um she think shes fine
Fine enough to blow Eric's mind
Um she think she's cute
Cute enough to steal your dude
- Afrochic (Location: Memphis [Tennessee],, 03-28-2003

Example #5: 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
"Brother" probably means "boyfriend"/"your man". "Chips" here means the "potato chips" snack.

The cheer would immediately begin from the beginning after the last line. The next soloist would say her name and her favorite color.

Example #6: HULA HULA
(Hula Hula
Who thinks she's bad now
Hula Hula
Who thinks she's bad)

I think I'm bad
'Cause Shelly's my name
Black is my color
And love is my game

(Ooh, She think she bad)
[posturing] Ooh, I know I'm bad.

(Ooh, she think she bad)

Ooh, I know I'm bad

(Ooh, she think she bad)
Chile, go kiss my ass (or “Chile, your breath is bad” or “Chile go take a bath”)

repeat rhyme from the beginning.
-bublackberry (African American woman; Connecticut; example via email to Azizi Powell, 11/11/05)


Here's another cheer that has similar words -and the same bragging & taunting/confrontational attitudes- as "Hula Hula":

CALL REPUTATION (also known as "Razzle Dazzle")
my name is yonnqa
i'm number one
my reputation has just begun
so if you see me
step a side
cause i don't take no jive
oh think she cool
correction baby
i no i'm cool
i no karate
i no kunfu
you miss with me
i co it on you*
rasasol o dazzo o ox2 **
-yaya,, 2/23/2007
*"co" here is probably a typo for "do"
**"ox2" probably means "repeat two times.

Razzle Dazzle (all the girls are in a circle, one girl goes in the middle to sing)
my name is ____ i'm number 1,
my razzle dazzle has just begun
so if you see me better step aside
cause this bad girl don't take no jive
(everybody else in the cirle:) ooh. she thinks she's bad
correction baby, i KNOW i'm bad
ooh. she thinks she's fine
fine enough to blow YOUR mind
razzle dazzle uh huh uh huh
razzle dazzle uh huh.
WOO WOO razzle dazzle uh huh
uh huh razzle dazzle uh huh.
WOO WOO (repeat with everybody in the circle)
-liz,, 6/22/2007
Several other (similar) examples of "Razzle Dazzle" and "Call Reputation" were posted on my no longer active website.

MY NAME IS (Version #1)
SOLO:My name is Naomi on the Phone with my Daisy Dukes on
if you see me on the street boy you better speak to me.
GROUP:Oo she think she bad
SOLO: At least i use a wash rag
GROUP: Oo she think she cool
SOLO: Soap and water will do
GROUP:Oo she think she fine
SOLO: Fine Fine #9 take yo man anytime, he took me out he brought me back he besta have my cadillac. he brought you 1 he brought me 2, married me and divorced you.
he taught me Karate and taught me Kung Fu. mess wit me
and i'll do it on you
GROUP:Bang Bang choo choo train
wind her up she'll do her thang
SOLO: I can't
GROUP:Why not
SOLO: I said I can't
SOLO: I said my back is aching and my bra's too tight.
my booty's shakin from the left to the right
GROUP:Left Right Left Right yo mama is a ugly sight
-Naomi;, 1/17/2007

MY NAME IS (Version #2, Fragment)
My name is Shakeila and I’m number one
I step to the beat and I no it’s fun
all these haters go to hate like this so all
I got to do is left right left.
-Shakeila; African American girl, age 11; Garfield neighborhood ,Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 10/16/2007, [from a written survey]
Several other examples of "My Name Is" were posted on my no longer active website.

Note: "Shabooya Roll Call" is another example of an introduction, bragging, confrontational foot stomping cheer. Click for a pancocojams post about "Shabooya Roll Call".

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Visitor comments are welcome.


  1. Portions of two versions of the cheer which is most often known as Hula Hula" are found on pages 77-78 in the section on "Cheers" in Kyra D. Gaunt's 2006 book The Games Black Girls Play:Learning The Ropes From Double Dutch to Hip-Hop. Here's a portion of that passage:
    "Following my interactions with the twins, Stephanie and Jasmine, I learned and collected a few handclapping games and cheers in the summer of 1995 from a group of black and biracial girls (ages 10-15) participating in a summer writing workshop for current or formerly homeless girls and boys. The program was held at Community High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. And because boys were constantly lurking around when the girls were demonstrating their games during recess, this site elicited some interesting observations about female-male relations, in what often resembled scenes from commercial popular culture in reverse (i.e. boys dancing to the rhythms created by girls' play.)

    One of the games I most enjoyed learning at Community High was a cheer performed by Tomika and Laura (ages 10 and 11) hat began "OO-lay, OO-lay/na-OO-tay/ Stay back that's me", and culminated with an antagonistic call-and-response: Call: "Oo! She thinks she bad." Response: Baby, bady, don't get me mad."....

    Later that year, ... I happened upon a variant of the same cheer performed by my cousin's daughter Arielle (age 10). Arielle grew up on an Air Force base in Denver, Colorado, a region influenced by Mexican heritage. And her version may reflect an adoption of Hispanic local practice or may parody it (Oo-lay in Tomika's version was pronounced Oh-la in Arielle's.) Arielle learned her version from her membership in junior high school (O-la, O-la/ Now who thinks they're bad!")...

    1. Kyra D. Gaunt wrote that she considered Arielle's version of those cheers to be less sophisticated, complex, and "funky" than Tomika & Laura's version.

      Be that as it may, based on the examples of "Hula Hula" cheers that are presented in this pancocojams post, both "Oo-lay" and "Oo-la" appear to me to be folk processed forms of the word "Hula" or a similarly sounding word. And, based on the examples showcased in this post, it appears that "Oo-la" (pronounced "Oo-lah") is the most widely found pronunciation.

      I stand by my guess that "Hula" probably comes from an old form of the word "Hello". Therefore, "Hula Hula/who thinks they bad" means "Hey, Hey who thinks they're bad?" - with "bad" here meaning "the best" (in terms of whatever measuring criteria these girls are using to rate people.)