Saturday, July 29, 2017

Excerpt About Recreational Double Dutch From The 1999 Book "Children's Folklore: A SourceBook"

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part II of a four part pancocojams series on recreational (street, old school) Double Dutch, with an emphasis on Double Dutch (jump rope) rhymes.

Part II features an excerpt from the chapter "Double Dutch And Double Cameras: Studying The Transmission Of Culture In An Urban School" by Ann Richman Beresina. This chapter is part of the 1999 book Children's Folklore: A SourceBook edited by Brian Sutton-Smith, Jay Mechling, Thomas W. Johnson, and Felicia McMahon (Utah State University Press, originally published in 1995).

In addition, Part II showcases the 1985/1986 McDonald Double Dutch commercial (which is also featured in Part I) as well as two YouTube videos of "Big Mac" performed as a two person and as a four person hand clap game.

Click for Part I of this series. Part I presents my thoughts about the reasons for the demise of recreational Double Dutch with or without chanted rhymes. Part I also includes an excerpt from an online article that provides a general overview about recreational Double Dutch, with emphasis on the years that girls were involved in this activity.

In addition, Part I also showcases four YouTube videos of recreational or competitive sports Double Dutch. A video of Malcolm Mclaren's 1983 song "Double Dutch" is also featured in this post, particularly for its visual documentation of Double Dutch sports teams more than for its South African sourced music. Selected comments about Double Dutch from those videos' discussion threads are also included in this post.

Click for Part III of this pancocojams series. Part III showcases text (word only) examples of five recreational Double Dutch rhymes and provides comments about those examples, including suggesting probably Hip Hop sources for some of those rhymes.

The words to these rhymes are from Recess Battles: Playing, Fighting, and Storytelling, by Anna R. Beresin (Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2010).

Click for Part IV of this video. Part IV provides a partial time line of references to Double Dutch in American and British television shows, movies, commercials, and recorded songs.

This post also showcases one of this commercials: Coca Cola Double Dutch.

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Ann Richman Beresin, the author of the excerpt of Children's Folklore: A SourceBook that is quoted in this post. Thanks to all those who contributed the Double Dutch rhymes and other examples of children's rhymes that are included in that book.
This is part of an ongoing pancocojams series on Double Dutch (jump rope) and jump roping rope in general, particularly as those activities relate to African American females.

Also, click the tags below to find other posts in this series.

Chapter 4: Double Dutch And Double Cameras: Studying The Transmission of Culture In An Urban Shool Yard" by Ann Richman Beresin in the 1999 book Children's Folklore: A Sourcebook edited by Brian Sutton-Smith, Jay Mechling, Thomas W. Johnson, Felicia McMahon (Utah State University Press)

[page 79]
..."Several games were studied in this larger exploration of the folklore of the 1991-92 Mill School yard [Philadelphia Pennsylvania], including the games of the third- through fifth-grade boys. This paper, however, will serve as a window to the specific game worlds of the double dutch players. (For a complete view of the larger study, which includes handball, folk basketball, hopscotch, step dancing, and play fighting, see Beresin 1993.) Double dutch was perhaps the chief peer-led activity for African American girls at the Mill School, and provided a performance focus for a mobile audience of both girls and boys in the school yard.

A fast-paced, polyrhythmic jump-rope style, double dutch utilizes two ropes, typically turned inwards, egg beater fashion, by two girls who have "the ends," while a single jumper executes specific steps to a specific song or chant. It is almost exclusively an African American girls' tradition in urban Pennsylvania, and has been virtually ignored in the jump-rope literature. There has been so little written on double dutch in the folklore literature, and in the collections of African American folklore, that it could even have been said to be skipped over.

[page 80]
Singing game and street game collections like those of the Opies have described larger game traditions but excluded rope singing. American children's folklore, as in the works of Bronner and Knapp and Knapp, have homogenized the ethnicity of their young experts and have given us only single rope traditions; the African American collections of general folklore have rarely even mentioned the lore of young girls (Kochman 1972; Jackson 1967; Whitten and Szwed 1982). With the exception of Jones's and Hawes's Step It Down (1972) and Black Girls at Play (1975) by Bauman, Eckhardt, and Brady, the games of African American girls have been rendered practically invisible, and these collections have examined only the stepping and clapping forms. Abrahams's Jump-Rope Rhymes: A Dictionary (1969), a text called "the most thorough recent compilation of these (jump rope) rhymes for English-speaking children" (Schwartzman 1978, 36), lists a handful of articles relevant to double dutch, but, with the exception of his own useful 1963 article, all deal with it only in passing.

Even when only a single rope was available-it was typically one brought by a child from home-it was utilized in the style and steps of double dutch. Two girls hold the ends and turn for the girl who is jumping, and often it is expected that one must turn for someone before getting the chance to jump. Occasionally the "double Irish" or "double orange" style of rope turning was observed; that is the term for the turning of the ropes outward, egg beater style. This method was considered more difficult and sometimes occurred by accident when the turners changed direction. More typically, there would be two turners rapidly turning the rope inward, left, right, left, right, swaying rhythmically to the slapping beat as the rope brushed the ground. The jumper would dance the steps associated with the song or rhyme, and a group of singers, ranging from the turners to nonparticipants to would-be participants, would dance a minimal version of the game in place. This was considered both a fun thing to do while you await your turn, as well as a chance to practice the sequence.

The game was competitive, with jumpers vying to be the one who could not only stay in the ropes the longest but could progress the furthest in the particular rhyme. Someone would shout"She got foot" or "She got turn." And one would often hear the cry of "Saved!" or "Saved by one!" meaning that the person shouting had progressed farther than the jumper who had just tripped on the turning rope. Steps were parodied, styles imitated, and occasionally corrected in order to ensure that the jumper did the job
right. Turners could be accused of turning too rapidly, or of intentionally "flicking" the rope to make it more difficult, and high-status jumpers,usually the more skilled fifth and sixth graders, claimed first jumps, while the younger, less experienced players would be the turners. The chance

[page 81]

to jump first, and if one was skilled, stay in the spotlight, was often called long before the game started, in the hallway, in the classroom, or at the end of one round for the round the next recess

[A diagram entitled "Double Dutch Style" is included here.]

Immigrant Chinese and Haitian girls, representing a small minority of this officially racially desegregated school, also occasionally did individual, single jump rope. Two Chinese girls sometimes jumped in two parallel ropes and, in their own ropes, looped circles around each other, sort of a couple
dance while jumping. The Haitian girls sometimes jumped with a second girl in the same small rope, either face to face or back to front. Regardless of form or ethnicity, jump rope was almost always competitive, either by endurance, elaborateness of steps, or frequency of turns.

The European American girls would often be observers of the double dutch games, and on only rare occasions do individual ropes themselves. When they did so they would compete to see which of them could jump the
most times. They would not sing or chant, just count the number of continuous jumping steps. One girl was up to 230 and still jumping. Unlike the African American girls, who stayed in one place or rotated their positions slightly to be out of the bright sun, or the immigrant girls, who stayed in one place with their individual ropes, the European American girls did a running jump rope step and would, one at a time, run around the entire yard counting. Like their hand-clap games, which were also done to numbers or
counting, the European American girls had clearly distilled their games and no longer had an active jump-rope singing tradition at this school. The singing jump rope game, and for that matter the singing hand-clapping game, had become predominantly an African American tradition.

[page 82]

Many double dutch songs included the same sequence of steps or commands: foot, bounce, hop, turn, criss (crossing), clap, with "foot" or "footin" being the basic right, left, right, left running step over the quickly turning ropes. "Bounce" involved a lighter touch of the foot while doing the running step; "hop" a one-footed airborne step. "Turning" and "crissing" involved the most skill and only the most advanced jumpers were able to do those steps. Taisha, a particularly graceful fifth grader, was known to add
turns to all of her steps, in every sequence, just for the challenge of it.

Much like the world of themes found in the children's riddling studied by John McDowell (1979), the recorded texts of the rope games were spheres of the African American girls' culture. There were "1,2,3 Halleluya" and "Hey, D. J., let's sing that song," and "Boom Boom Tangle"-a rhyme about rap artists. Plus there were "All in Together," "Hey Consolation, Where Have You Been," "Girlscout, Girlscout, Do Your Duty," "Juice Juice, Let's Knock Some Boots," "D-I-S-H Choice, Do Your Footsies," "Challenge, Challenge
1,2,3," and "Kitty Cat Come, Gonna Be on Time, Cause the School Bell Rings at A Quarter to Nine." But these themes, the ones of religion, region, pop music, of group entry and exit, schooling, and even of plain step display in menu form, were out-shouted by "Big Mac," a commercial for the
McDonald's Corporation.

As Cheyna, a fourth-grade African American girl had said, "Want to hear my favorite?" (Snap fingers on down beat. Accented syllables are capitalized)
Big MAC, Fillet FISH, Quarter POUNDer, French FRIES, Ice COKE,
Milk SHAKE, Foot
Fillet FISH, Quarter POUNDer, French FRIES, Ice COKE, Milk
Fillet FISH, Quarter POUNDer, French FRIES, Ice COKE, Milk
Fillet FISH, Quarter POUNDer, French FRIES, Ice COKE, Milk
Fillet FISH, Quarter POUNDer, French FRIES, Ice COKE, Milk

[page 83]

Big Mac appeared in twenty-three out of fifty-six live unrequested recordings of double dutch chants, closely followed by a follow-the-Ieader game, "Challenge Challenge, One, Two, Three." This contrasted with the rest of the active repetoire, of which two or three versions were recorded of each. First observed in mid-October, "Big Mac," and its occasional partner "Challenge Challenge," were the only chants jumped at recess until February. Most of the other rhymes did not appear at all until April. "Big Mac" represented forty percent of all the songs sung for double dutch, with "Challenge Challenge" representing thirty percent.The remainder totaled three to six percent, tallying another thirty percent. "Big Mac" was therefore not only the first jump-rope rhyme to appear in the school yard and not only the most
frequently jumped, but, as we will see, also the one used for learning how to play the game of double dutch itself.

Collectors of jump-rope games have typically emphasized the antiquity of the games and rhymes, in part because of the archive methodology available, as discussed, and in part because of the inherent romance in finding things old. Paradoxically, the most significant rhyme for the players of this game was the newest one, invented by the McDonald's Corporation as a menu chant. Again and again the local jump-rope experts-the third, fourth-, and fifth-grade girls-claimed that the "Big Mac" rhyme was commercial and
approximately ten years old, but that the game was learned from their mothers and sisters. The dating of this particular chant was confirmed by the national public-relations office of the McDonald's Corporation, which indicated that the menu chants are periodically placed in local papers as part of a contest. It is significant that McDonald's has been a national sponsor of double dutch competitions since the late 1970s and that the only other long commercial text that emerged was in an interview setting: This was
"R-E-E-B-O-K do your footsies the Reebok way." Reebok is also a national sponsor of double dutch competitions.All of the new attempts at double dutch recorded in the school yard were done to the "Big Mac" rhyme. When Isha, a fifth-grade expert jumper, was asked what was the easiest rhyme, she answered, "Challenge Challenge," because "you just had to imitate what was done before you." When asked why the younger girls and the ones new to double dutch started with "Big Mac," she answered, "Because they don't have nothing else." Commercial culture is, for the kids of the school yard, the most basic of common culture. The commercial is easily learned: It's short, it's quick, and it's "fun in the mouth." Children who are bused in from all sections of the city know it, and children from all economic levels have access to it. It may have been introduced by the corporate-sponsored leagues and ad campaigns and may be a future classic example of the "invention of tradition" (Hobsbawm and Ranger 1983), but it would not have continued if it did not serve some function.....

[more excerpt text added to this post as of August 4, 2017]

The sound bytes of "Big Mac" may well serve to speed up the ritualization of entry into the game in a recess period that allows only fifteen minutes for play in this city.

In an environment where raw materials are inaccessible and consistently removed from the play time, it appears that the African American children from poorer neighborhoods, rich with oral traditions, are teaching non-African American children what can be done, as Isha says, "when you don't hanve nothing else". This is especially true of the play of girls, which is especially repressed in the school yard by the institution of school itself. Here it is commercial culture that is the common denominator, both within the ethnic tradition and across ethnic traditions.

One of the most relevant texts on this topic is Newell's 1883 book Games And Songs Of American Children. His essays "The Inventiveness Of Children" and "The Conservatism Of Children" address the dynamics inherent in the play study, the idea of play being both traditional and transitional, and the idea that children reconstruct and reinvent performances relevant to their complex lives. The key word is "relevant". Valuable things are reused, recycled and retold. And, as we will see, the repetition of the commercial rhyme may be fixed, but the variation and frequency of the game can be found in the foot work. In a sense, the folklorist begins with the text, but cannot stop there."...
-end of text added to this post on August 4, 2017
The words given in italics in brackets were added by me for informational purposes or to note the exclusion of a diagram that is part of that chapter.

[Explanation added August 4, 2017] "European American" in this excerpt means the same thing as "White American". Note that although Europeans are traditionally White, there were/are people who were/are born in Europe who aren't White.
-end of this addition-

The term "step dancing" and "stepping" in this chapter might be the same performance art that I refer to as "foot stomping cheers". I doubt that those terms refer to historically Black Greek letter fraternity and sorority steppin'.

The words given in capital letters (except for "foot") in the "Big Mac" example are movement instructions. "Criss" is probably the same movement what is commonly known known as "criss cross" ("crossing one foot over another.)

With regard to the rhyme "Big Mac": That rhyme is very widely performed as a hand clap rhyme in the United States and my sense is that very few children know that it was ever a jump rope rhyme. Instead of the title "Big Mac", I believe that the title "Welcome To McDonalds" is the one that is most often used for this hand clap. That title comes from the introductory words for that hand clap rhyme: "Welcome to McDonalds/may I take your order".

For some reason, in the hand clap version the line "and the dish ran away with the spoon" is frequently added to the end of that rhyme.

The words for some of the Double Dutch rhymes that are mentioned in this chapter excerpt are given in Part III of this pancocojams series.



This video featured the world champion Fantastic Four double-dutch team. Unfortunately, as a result of this commercial, that team was disqualified from competing any longer in Double Dutch sport competitions, a consequence I gather the team wasn't aware of before agreeing to be featured in this ad

Video Example #2: Mcdonalds hand game

Barbym1991 Published on May 15, 2009

old hand game my mom and aunt taught us!! Enjoy!

Video Example #3: McDonald's Hand Clap Game

Vinnie Kandis, Published on Nov 1, 2015
In this example, "Big Mac" is combined with other stand alone rhymes.


This concludes Part II of this four part pancocojams series on recreational Double Dutch.

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1 comment:

  1. For what it's worth, my daughter was an elementary school teacher for 18 years in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (until 2014). Almost all of the students in two of the three schools where she taught were African Americans, and African Americans made up about 60% of the population of the other school where she taught. In addition, my daughter was a counselor at a summer camp two summers when she was a young adult.

    All of this to say, I just asked my daughter if girls played Double Dutch at her schools during recess. She replied that she has never seen anyone jump Double Dutch in real life.

    I also don't recall seeing any girls playing Double Dutch in Pittsburgh (where I've lived since 1969). But that doesn't mean that there are no African American girls (or other girls, or boys) who do recreational Double Dutch. I also don't know if there is any Double Dutch sport teams in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.*

    I only have vague recollections of seeing some girls play Double Dutch when I was a child. I don't remember if I even tried to jump Double Dutch or tried to turn those two ropes. But ,in any event, I have to mark Double Dutch in the long column as a skill that I've never learned.

    *It might be relevant that Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's population is only around 20% Black, and the county is only 12% Black. However, because recreational Double Dutch was (is?) usually associated with African Americans, if African American girls in that city jumped Double Dutch, you would think that there would bee some evidence of that in public schools in working class communities that have 99% African American populations.