Monday, June 12, 2017

"At The Playground" - A Foot Stomping Cheer That Combines Words From A TV Commercial, The "Homey Don't Play That" Saying, & A Kiddie Hip Hop Record

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post presents text of and comments about the early 1990s foot stomping cheer "At The Playground" that was collected by my daughter at a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania children's summer camp.

This post examines how words from a television commercial, and a television show, and a Hip Hop record that was performed by a young boy's group were combined to make up this cheer.

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post and thanks to the publisher of these videos on YouTube.
Click for the related pancocojams post ""Homey Don't Play That" - In Living Color 's Homey D. Clown's Birthday Party Comedy Sketch".

"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."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.

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 traditionally* have a 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.

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.

*By traditional, I mean the way that foot stomping cheers were performed by African American girls in the 1980s and 1990s, and perhaps in the early 2000s. I've noticed changes in the way that these cheers are performed as they become more mainstream (i.e. are performed by White or predominately White cheerleader squads.)

Click for more information about "foot stomping cheers".

"At The Playground" is a dance style foot stomping cheer (i.e. - a cheer whose main purpose is to serve as a vehicle for "steppers" to show how well they can dance). The cheer combines lines from the following sources
1. the line "I'm fallin and a can't get up" - from a television commercial for a medical alarm and protection company called LifeCall.

2. various lines [read below] from a kiddie Hip Hop song "Playground" by ABC (Another Bad Creation). These lines are taken out of the order that they appear in the record.

3. "Homey don't play that" line from the recurring "Homey D. Clown" sketches on the American television comedy series In Living Color. The preface to that line "Smack, Jack" refers to Homey's custom of smacking (bopping) annoying children over the head with a sock filled with tennis balls (Note taht the Wikipedia article indicates that Homey D. Clown's sock was filled with pennies.)

This is how this cheer performance was explained and demonstrated to me)
1. Girls call out the order of the soloists - the first person to call out #1 is the first soloist, #2 is the second soloist, and so on.

2. Girls stand in a semi circle facing (usually) their pretend audience or their actual audience.

3. Girls start the stomp beat that will be continued throughout the entire cheer. The synchronized stepping routine alternates (individual) hand claps with bass sounding foot stomps (starting with the right foot), using the pattern "stomp stomp clap/stomp stomp clap".

4. Girls start the cheer. Instead of saying the soloist's first name or nickname, the girls use the first letter of that name or nickname.

5. When it is her turn as soloist, each girl is supposed to perform a dance movement from a different (then currently popular) Hip Hop dance.

6. After the soloist begins to perform that dance movement, the other girls also do that same dance step the same way that the soloist does it.-(This is a retention of the old children's singing games "Show me your motion" element.)

7. The soloist says "I swing my beat at the playground" and the cheer immediately begins again with the next soloist. This pattern continues with the same words (except for the first letter of the soloist's name or nickname) until every one in the group has had one turn as the soloist.

TEXT OF "AT THE PLAYGROUND" [foot stomping cheer]
All: I’ve fallen. I can‘t get up.
I’ve fallen. I can‘t get up.
Smack, Jack! Homie don’t play that.
Kick off your shoes (or "Put up your dukes")
And let’s get loose!
We kick our beat at the playground.
Playground...You Know.
All except the soloist: Kick it "T", Kick it "T"! Kick it "T"!
Bust it "T", Bust it "T", Bust it!
Swing it "T", Swing it "T", Swing it!
Soloist: I swing my beat at the playground!
-African American girls ages 7-12 years old; Lillian Taylor Camp; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; collected by Tazi M. Powell (camp counselor), 1992 or 1993

1. Smack Jack = "Smack" = hit (refers to Homey D. Clown's habit of hitting annoying children on the head with a sock filled with tennis balls ; "Jack" = a referent word for a male, but just used in this case as rhyming word for "Smack"

2. Homie= the In Living Color's clown character's name

3. "don't play that" = doesn't do that (i.e. doesn't do something that makes him look foolish)

4. "Put up your dukes" = "dukes" are your balled up fists that are used for fighting. In this cheer that word is said to rhyme with "loose" and simply means "start competing" (by showing off your dancing skills)

5. "Let's get loose" = in the context of this cheer, "let's dance very well, without any restrains")

6. "kick our beat" = do our dance and/or do our foot stomping step routine

7. "Kick it, Bust it, Swing it" = exhortations which mean "Dance very well" or "Continue to dance very well".

8. "Swing my beat" = do our dance and/or do our foot stomping step routine

Example #1: I've fallen, and I can't get up!

DarkstarDCB, Published on Jan 1, 2013

The original.
Click for this entire YouTube television commercial [Life Call Commercial "I've fallen and I can't get up!"
hauntedgeorge, Aug 10, 2007]
Here's the summary from that YouTube video:
"...I've fawlin' and I can't get up!..."
"This line was spoken in a television commercial for a medical alarm and protection company called LifeCall, in ads that began running in 1987. The motivation behind these medical alarm systems is that many senior citizens today live at home alone, and may find themselves suddenly in medical danger with no one (and no phone) nearby to help them. The product addressed this concern by providing its subscribers with a small pendant, worn around the wrist or neck; when needed, the wearer presses the button on it, and he or she is immediately put into contact with a dispatcher who can send a paramedic, fireman, or other emergency assistance.

The TV advertisement featured, in part, a fictional elderly lady named "Mrs. Fletcher" who has fallen, with her walker, in the bathroom.

On its face, the commercial illustrates a serious situation for a senior with dire consequences (elderly people with no one to care for them may fall in their homes and be on the floor for hours or even days, unable to get help).

The "I've fallen and I can't get up" ad had the double misfortune of being unintentionally campy and appearing often on cable and daytime television. The combination made "I've fallen... and I can't get up!" a recognized, universal punchline that applied to many comedic situations. All of these factors made the ad memorable, ensuring the line's place in pop culture history."

Example #2: Homie Don't Play That

Cadaveric Mutilation, Published on Oct 3, 2012

Example #3: Another Bad Creation - Playground

Uploaded by AnotherBCreationVEVO on Dec 24, 2009

Music video by Another Bad Creation performing Playground. (C) 1991 Motown Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.
Text from Another Bad Creation's (ABC's) Hip Hop Song "Playground" that is used in this cheer:
[...] "This is what I see at the playground .. ya know!


And guess who's up next..kick it!


Kick it D kick it D kick it
Pump it D pump it D pump it
Swing it D swing it D swing it

I swing my beats .. at the playground..ya know!

[...] "


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