Sunday, February 12, 2012

"Front, Back, Side To Side" Words In Children's Rhymes

Edited by Azizi Powell

Words & phrases often change their meanings. So it's not surprising that the phrase "front, back, side to side" has taken on sexual meanings that it didn't have early on.

In the 'good ole days' of the 1950s to at least the 1980s, "front, back, side to side" referred to the directions a person would jump, dance, or otherwise dance while singing or chanting those words. "Left right, side to side", and "in, out, side to side" are similar phrases that are found in playground rhymes and other songs. "Front back, side to side" and "left, right, side to side" are self-explanatory. "In, out" harks back to the time when these rhymes were chanted while playing ring (circle) games, and referred to participants jumping into the ring and then jumping back out.

Children's handclap rhymes, cheerleader cheers, and singing games still have those meanings. The "front back side to side" phrase or similar phrases such as "to the left/ to the right/ to the front!/ to the back!" could also be found in the certain R&B dance songs. However, in the 1994 69 Boys "Tootsee Roll" record ( the term "tootsee roll" is a play on a brand name for chocolate candy that is quite popular in the United States. However, in this song, the term "tootsee" is a referent for "butt", and the word "roll" means "whining" or "shaking" your butt. The instructional phrases "to the left/ to the right/ to the front!/ to the back!" in that song refer to the directions the dancers are supposed to move when those phrases are sung.

And in more recent R&B/Hip-Hop songs, the "front, back, side to side" lyrics have become much more sexualized. An examplee of an implied sexual meaning for that phrase is Marz's 2009 song "Do What You Do" ( The directional lyrics in that song are "front, back, side side, front front back back side side. up, down, round round, up up down down round, round". It's my sense that that song's popularity and appeal to children increased as a result of those lyrics being featured in one of the Kia Soul car commercials that stars "hip" hamsters (

The implied sexual meanings of the "front, back, side to side" phrase and similar phrases in Hip-Hop songs complicates attempts to find examples of playground rhymes that include those phrases.

This post featured four examples of playground rhymes which include the "front, back, side to side" phrase or a similar directional phrase. This is a very small sample of English language playground rhymes & cheers that include those phrases.

These examples are provided for the folkloric record.

The "front back side to side" phrase (or similar phrase)in the examples posted below is written in italics to highlight it.

My thanks to all contributors of these examples!


Example #1: PEPSI COLA
Pepsi-cola pep pepsi cola
Pepsi cola pep pepsi cola
I can slide and slide
and do the butterfly
I can dip, and dip
and shake my little hips.
I want you and you
To do it with me too.
Front (clapclapclap)
Back (clapclapclap)
Side (clapclapclap)
Side (clap clap)
Front back side to side

Watch me do the butterfly.
5, 6, 7, 8
Watch me see your booty shake
My mama short and fine
She got a butt like mine
And when she cross the street
The cars go beep beep beep.
-Uploaded by ImBeyondBeautifull1; June 29, 2011

The girls dancing pepsi cola!

ImBeyondBeautifull1, Published on Jun 29, 2011

Awww so cute Dancing to beyonce having fun

Ladies and gentlemen, children too
This brown girl
She gonna boogie for you
She gonna turn all around
She gonna wear her dresses up above her knees
She gonna shake her fanny just as much as she please.
I never went to college.
I never went to school.
But when it comes to boogie,
I can boogie like a fool.
You go in out, side to side.
You go in out, side to side.

Hey pretty baby
How about a date
I’ll meet at the corner
About half past eight
Hands up!
Tachie Tachie Tachie
Hands down!
Tachie Tachie Tachie!
Sans Boots!
Tachie Tachie Tachie
Hands down!
Tachie Tachie Tachie!
Sans Boots!
-Barbara Ray (African American female), memory of childhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1950s; collected on November 1997 & August 2009 by Azizi Powell; posted on
Visit that page for more information & comments about this rhyme.

Example #3: ZODIAC
Here we go Zodiac, Zodiac, Zodiac
Here we go Zoodio all night long!
Oh, step back Sally Sally, Sally
Step back Sally all night long!
Oh -a walkin down the alley, alley, alley.
A-walkin down the alley all night long!
Oh, what did I see?
A big fat man from Tennesse!
I bet you five dollars I can beat that man!
To the front, to the back, to the si'-si' si'
To the front, to the back, to the si'-si'-si'

I called the doctor, and the doctor said
I got a pain in my si', oooo-chi-ah!
I got a pain in my si', oooo-chi-ah!
I got a pain in my si'.
- Washington D. C., schoolgirls, recorded 1976 at the Smithsonian Institution Festival Of American Folklore, Washington, D.C., [Band 2, "Ring Games and Jump Rope" on Old Mother Hippletoe: Rural and Urban Children's Songs; New World Records; Record Notes by Kate Rinzler, 1978]

Editor: The line "I looked over yonder" is usually given before the line "And what did I see?"

Example #4: RIDE THAT PONY
Here we go! (Ride that pony)
Ride around! (It's a big fat pony!)
Here we go! (Ride that pony)
This is how we do it:
Front to front to front, my baby!
Back to back to back, my baby!
Side to side to side, my baby!


((Repeat until your hands fall off))
-AttheCircus (Webster Groves High School, Colorado Springsl Colorado); ; April 18, 2008

Click for a video of and lyrics to "Tootsie Roll". "Ladies And Gentlemen, Children Too" Playground Rhyme

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