Thursday, May 31, 2012

"Ladies And Gentlemen, Children Too" Playground Rhyme

Uploaded by SafariCreations on May 22, 2009
My transcription for the "Ladies And Gentlemen, Children Too" rhyme is given as Example #1 below. The "Wang Dang Doodle" song begins at 1:32.

"Willie Dixon's Blues stomper "Wang Dang Doodle" became the second hit for the Pointers Sister in 1974. On the original 1973 recording they are backed by the Hoodoo Rhythm Devils."

Edited by Azizi Powell

Latest revision - September 23, 2022

This pancocojams post presents examples of and suggested sources for certain words to the playground rhyme "Ladies And Gentlemen, Children Too".

The content of this post is presented for historical, folkloric, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes. T

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post. Thanks also to The Pointer Sisters who are featured in this embedded video, and thanks to the publisher of that video on YouTube.

[Presented in relative chronological order, except for Example #1]

Example #1 (sung as intro to the song “Wang Dang Doodle” performed by the Pointer Sisters without any backup instrumental music, and accompanied by the audience handclapping]

Thank you!
Here we go:

Walkin down the alley, alley, alley
Shakin your jally, jally, jally.
Swingin your partner, partner, partner.
LADIES, and gentlemen, children too
These brown babies gonna boogie for YOU.

[Do motions as indicated; For “boogie” & “cha cha cha”, wiggle your hips from side to side]

They gonna turn around,
And touch the ground
They gonna step back, and step back
And boogie on down.
Hands up! Ah Cha cha Cha cha
Ah Cha cha cha cha.
To the front, to the back, to the side by side
To the front, to the back, to the side by side
To the front, to the back, to the side by side
I never went to college,
I never went to school
But when I came back
I was an educated fool.

[One of the performer's say "Come on! Join in. Ya’ll love it!"; Drum beat begins]

Ah Cha cha Cha cha
Ah Cha cha cha cha.

[increase tempo]

Hands up! Ah Cha cha Cha cha
Ah Cha cha cha cha.

[tempo remains the same]

Hands up! Ah Cha cha Cha cha
Cha cha cha cha.
Hands up! Ah Cha cha Cha cha
Cha cha cha cha.

Hands up! Ah Cha cha Cha cha
Cha cha cha cha.
[music begins for the song “Wang Dang Doodle]
Hands up! Ah Cha cha Cha cha
Cha cha cha cha.

Hands up! Ah Cha cha Cha cha
Cha cha cha cha.
-The Pointer Sisters: Wang Dang Doodle [1974

Example #2 (movement rhyme)
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.
-Barbara Ray (African American female), memory of childhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the 1950s; collected in November 1996 & in August 2009 (second interview) by Azizi Powell

Example #3 (dramatized skit)
Fast forward to current time. The guys(yes boys) at campfires and Diocese-wide events here in the Episcopal Diocese of Newark (NJ) do a dance off to the following with one guy sitting down after each sing through. I'll check around, but I know it goes back to the mid 1990's

Seven little sisters
Like to boogie down
Like to turn around
Like to touch the ground
Like to wear their skirts above their knees
Now they've never been to college
And they've never been to school
But when it comes to dancin'
They can boogie like a fool.

Hands up, shake-shake, shake, shake
Hands down, shake-shake, shake, shake
To the front, to the back to the side, side, side
to the front, to the back, to the side, side, side

Six little sisters.....
-Tinker, "We Wear Our Hair In Curls" , August 23, 2009

[continue counting down "five little sisters", "four little sisters" etc]

In another comment on that discussion thread, Tinker shared that wrote that this camp (called "The Eagles Nest") in the Newark, New Jersey area was a racially/ethnically integrated summer experience for high academic achieving girls and boys. It appears to have been part of the camp's tradition that only the boys performed "Seven Little Sisters" for fun as part as a performance for the entire camp.

Tinker posted a query about this song on that camp's alumni page. Other posters remembered this song, and one remembered it having been sung by boys "in the 1960s". But neither Tinker nor anyone else knew where it came from.

My sense is that the title and lyrics "Seven Little Sisters" has nothing at all to do with the term "Seven Sisters" as used for either the astronomical constellation, the Greek mythology, the Hoodoo referent or any other referent. Instead, it seems to me that in that children's rhyme "seven little sisters" is just a way of counting down the number of "girls" who are performing that rhyme.

Example #4 (jump rope rhyme)
Ladies and gentlemen
Children too,
This young lady's
Going to boogie for you.

She's going to turn around. (Jumper turn around)
She's going to touch the ground. (Jumper touch ground)
She's going to shimmy, shimmy, shimmy (Jumper wiggles hips)
Till her drawers fall down.

She never went to college.
She never went to school.
But when she came back,
She was a nasty fool.
-Source: Knapp (1976), posted on

Example #5 (performance activity not given)
down down baby down by the rollercoaster
sweet sweet baby, I'll never let you go
shimmy shimmy coco pop, shimmy shimmy rah!
shimmy shimmy coco pop, shimmy shimmy rah!
I like candy, I like tea, I like a little boy
and he likes me.
so step off jack, your hands are black
your looking like a monkey on a rail road track
To the front to the back to the side by side
To the front to the back to the side by side,
Ladies and gentlemen children too
this old lady's gonna boogie for you
she's gonna turn around
touch the ground
boogie boogie boogie till her pants fall down!!!

this version i remember from when i was little..i loved it!!
-GUEST,guest..jenna; October 1, 2010 "We Wear Our Hair In Curls".

Example #6:
Any number can be substituted for "three". Dancers do the actions suggested in the chant. They boogie* or clap on the "Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha".

Ladies and gentlemen and children, too,
Here are three girls gonna boogie for you,
They're gonna turn all around,
They're gonna touch thee ground,
They're gonna shake their shoulders,
Till the sun goes down.
Hands up! Ha-ha, Ha-ha-ha.
Hands down! Ha-ha, Ha-ha-ha.
Got a penny, call Jack Benny. Ha-ha, Ha-ha-ha.
Got a nickel, buy a pickle. Ha-ha, Ha-ha-ha.
Got a dime, ain't it fine. Ha-ha, Ha-ha-ha.
-Margaret Taylor Burroughs, Did You Feed My Cow: Street Games, Chants, and Rhymes (Chicago, Follet Publishing Co., 1969, previously published in 1956; p. 67 [African American children, Chicago, Illinois]

Example #7 (chanted while playing jump rope)
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Children, too.
There’s a little white girl
Going looking for you.
Hands up, torch-a-torch.
Two years old, going on three.
Wear my dresses upon my knee.
Sister has a boyfriend,
Comes every night,
-Walks in the parlor
And turns out the lights.
Peep through the keyhole,
What did I see?
Johnny, Johnny, Johnny,
Put your arms around me.
Girls, girls, ready for a fight.
Here comes the girl with the skirt all tight.
She can wiggle, she can friggle,
She can do that stuff.
But I bet she can’t do this.

(Jumping while the rope is turned faster.) Some Jump Rope Songs from Camingerly, ca. 1959 By Ken Finkel, August 22, 2017

Ken Finkel shared several rhymes and cited these sources for those rhyme:  [Sources: Roger D. Abrahams, “Some Jump-Rope Rimes from South Philadelphia,” Keystone Folklore Quarterly, Spring, 1963 and Roger D. Abrahams, Deep Down in the Jungle: Negro Narrative Folklore from the Streets of Philadelphia (Chicago: Aldine Publishing Company, 1970,) 2nd edition.]


I believe that the source for the lines:

Never went to college
never went to school
but when it comes to boogie
I'm an educated fool

[or similar lines] is this rhyme/song that is found in Dorothy Scarborough's On The Trail Of Negro Folk-Songs (Folklore Associates, Inc. edition, 1963, p. 71; originally published by Harvard University Press, 1925): 

"Old Jesse was a gemman.
Among de olden times.

N****r never went to free school.
Nor any odder college,
An' all de white folks wonder whar
That n****r got his knowledge."...

-end of quote-
Editorial Notes:
This is not the same song as the African American secular slave song & old time banjo song [Here Comes]"Uncle Jesse".

In this post, the word "n****r" is the way I choose to write the pejorative referent for Black people which is now commonly known as "the n word".


"Free schools" were the schools that were established for African Americans immediately after the end of the United States civil war. "Whar" ="Where".

"Boogie" = "dance". There are many African American dance songs that include the word "boogie". Among those songs is Boogie Chillun - John Lee Hooker (1948).

UPDATE August 4, 2013
A song entitled "Jennie Jones" (also given as "Jenia Jones") is a tantalizing possibility for the primary source of the African American children's rhyme "Ladies & Gentleman, Children Too". In a 1927 version of "Jennie Jones", Jennie (Jennia)'s suitor eventually learns that she is dead. That song even has a refrain of "Very well, ladies; Ladies and Gentlemen, too." The first point connects that song to the African American children's rhyme "Aunt Jenny Died" and the second point (also) connects that song to the Afriacn American children's rhyme "Ladies & Gentlemen, Children Too".

*I found the song "Jenny Jones" in this 1927 collection of American children's rhymes: Book of Games for Home, School, And Playground (William Byron Forbush, Harry A. Allen; Chicago, The John C. Winston Co}

"Jenny Jones" is NOT the same as the song "Jenny Jenkins", although both of those songs include lyrics about the woman wearing different colors.

Here's an excerpt from a post about the history of the "Jenny Jones song" from
"This [Jenny Jones] This game has a well-developed dramatic structure and has as its prevailing theme the nature of death. It appears in Gomme, in Newell, and in the Opies (1985:254-60) as well as in other collections. Gomme (1:260-83) has seventeen variants, with slightly different instructions, and apparently received so many submissions that she didn't print them all. The game has been the subject of poetry, and was the source of a popular American song, "Jennie Jenkins." [Italics added to highlight this sentence.]

Also, a discussion thread about the history of the United Kingdom Morris Dance "Sweet Jenny Jones" adds more information about the origin of the Jenny Jones songs. In particular, read this comment by Margaret from that discussion thread: about the popularity of 19th century "Jenny Jones" figurines and a 19th century song about Jenny Jones and her lover. That same discussion thread includes this comment:

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Sweet Jenny Jones
From: sian, west wales
Date: 12 Dec 00 - 02:01 PM

..."here (in translation) is the low-down on the tune known as Cadair (or Cader) Idris according to one of our experts, Huw Williams:
An original tune by John Parry (bardic name: Bardd Alaw), based on the style of old harp tunes, and written by him in Denbigh in 1804. It was first published in "The Welsh Harper, being an Extensive Collection of Welsh Airs" (1839). It is interesting how Charles J. Mathews, the famous entertainer, came to set the English words for the tune, and how it came to be known in English circles as Jenny Jones. According to "The Life of Charles James Mathews" (Charles Dickens; London 1879), Mathews visited Wales during 1824-1826, and he heard a harper playing the tune on his harp in a hotel in Llangollen. He had never heard the tune before and had no idea who had written it, but he liked it so much that he memorized it.

In the farmhouse where he was staying in Pontblyddyn there was a maid called Jenny Jones and a farm servant named David Morgan. Mathews wrote a ballad for the tune, giving it the name of the maid. One night, he said, he sang the ballad in the house of friends in London, and at the end of the evening of entertainment, an old man came up to him and said that he had written the tune and that it had been awarded a prize in the 1804 Eisteddfod under the title Cader Idris. That old man was Bardd Alaw. Later Mathews used the ballad under the title Jenny Jones in a revue (review?) called, "He would be an actor", and it is said that the tune was whistled everywhere in the London streets after that."...
I reformatted this comment to enhance its readability.

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