Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Examples of "Hollywood Swinging" Hand Clap Rhymes From Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post presents four text examples of "Hollywood Swinging" hand clap rhymes that I collected between 1998-2008 from African American girls (ages 7-12 years) in various sections of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. These examples demonstrate how different textual versions of a rhyme or cheer may be chanted during the same period of time within the same city. The content of this post also demonstrates how the words of a rhyme performance activity for a rhyme or cheer can change over a period of time, and how the performance activity of a rhyme or cheer can also change over a period of time.

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.
Click for a 2016 pancocojams post entitled "Examples Of "Hollywood Goes Swingin" Cheers (1976 - 2000s)."

The word "swinging" in "Hollywood Swinging" rhymes probably means that there is always something going on (always some fun thing to do) in Hollywood. "Hollywood" refers to the "famous district in the central region of Los Angeles, California. It is prominent for its place as the home of the entertainment industry, including several of its historic studios. Its name has come to represent the motion picture industry of the United States. Hollywood is also a highly ethnically diverse, densely populated, economically diverse neighborhood and retail business district. "

The earliest example of "Hollywood Swingin" rhymes that I've found is included in the 1978 vinyl record "Old Mother Hippletoe, Rural and Urban Children's Songs. That example, titled "Hollywood Now Swinging" and combined with another rhyme entitled "Dynomite" was collected in 1976 by Kate Rinzler from "Washington DC school girls"* in 1976. It's significant that Rinzler made no mention of these girls doing hand clap routines while performing this and several other rhymes. Instead,
Rinzler wrote that the girls "imitating cheerleaders" who they had seen on television during the Olympics by doing dance and acrobatic movements.

Another early example of a "Hollywood Swingin" playground rhyme is found in the 1983 book Apples On A Stick: The Folklore of Black Children" bu Barbara Michels, Bettye White, editors (Coward-McCann, Inc, 1983; p.14). The editors indicated that they collected the rhyme examples included in that book from school children in Houston, Texas. However, no performance activities for those rhyme was given in that book.

The examples of this rhyme that are mentioned above can be found on this page of my cocojams website:

*Given the racial composition of Washington, D.C. in the late 1970s, it's reasonable to assume that these "Washington D.C." school girls were African American.

All of the examples of this rhyme that I've found are performed as hand clap partner routines. However, I recall an early version of that rhyme [the same as Example #1 below] being performed as a foot stomping cheer*. In my opinion, the textual structure of certain "Hollywood Swinging" rhymes in which the words are voiced by one person at a time reflect that hand clap rhyme's foot stomping cheer origin. The group/soloist call & response style of those "Hollywood Swinging" hand clap rhymes contrast with the unison voice that is found in almost all other hand clap rhymes.

*"Foot stomping cheer" is the term that I coined in 1999 as a referent for an informal recreational activity that may be considered a sub-set of cheerleader cheers. "Foot stomping" ("doing stomps" or "doing steps") is characterized by two or more children (usually girls between the ages of 6-12 years old) chanting a distinctive textually structure of cheer in which the group voice is heard first, and is followed by a soloist. The cheer is repeated from the beginning with a new soloist until every member of the group has the same [equal length] turn as the soloist. The chanters perform synchronized, choreographed routines that emphasize the creation of bass sounding foot stomps. The stomping routine is performed in a metronome like manner throughout the entire cheer.

Note that I've not collected playground rhymes in person since 2008. I'm not sure if any foot stomping rhyme is still performed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania or in any other community.

The core lines of these rhymes [Hollywood swingin/Hollywood swingin"] have their source in the 1973/1974 R&B/Funk record "Hollywood Swingin" by Kool & The Gang. Click for information about that song. Also, find a sound file of that Kool & The Gang record below.

The taunting/braggadocio line "if you see me walkin down the street/you better speak" that is included in Example #1 of "Hollywood Swingin" below is similar to these lines from the 1966 hit R&B record "Cool Jerk" which was originally performed by The Capitols: "when they see me walkin down the street/when the fellows they want to speak". This line has been misquoted in a number of online lyric pages.

Click"> for information about the song "Cool Jerk". Also, click for a sound file of "Cool Jerk" by the Capitols. And, click for a pancocojams post entitled “The REAL Meaning Of The R&B Song "Cool Jerk".

Another example of the "if you see me walking down the street" line is found in versions of the rhyme/song "She's My One Black Two Black".

The song "She's My One Black Two Black" is based on an early (1928) Jazz tune "Chocolate To The Bone". However, the "if you see my girl walking down the street/you better leave my girl alone" lines aren't a part of that song. I'm not sure when "One Black Two Black" was made into a rhyme or whether was a part of the earliest versions of that rhyme. And I'm not sure where the walkin down the street" lines originally came from.

Click for more information and examples of "She's My One Black Two Black" rhymes.

Kool & The Gang "Hollywood Swinging" [Soul Train June 15, 1974] embedding disallowed

VeryBerryCherry 🍒 Published on Nov 8, 2014

Kool & The Gang "Hollywood Swinging"
[Soul Train June 15, 1974]

Kool & the Gang: Hollywood Swinging (Live from New Orleans 1984)

Johan Nilsson, Uploaded on Aug 5, 2010

One of the funkiest songs ever made! Live from New Orleans in 1984.
Unfortunately, to date, I've not found any video performances of the playground rhyme "Hollywood Swingin".

These examples are posted in chronological order based on their collection date (by Azizi Powell) with the earliest collected examples given first. All of these examples are hand clap rhymes.

[Both girls]
Hollywood goes swingin.
Hollywood goes SWINGIN.
Swingin for the good times.
Swingin for the bad times.
[One girl]
My name is Teneisha
and I’m number 9.
I’m kickin it with Ginuwine.*
If you ever see me on the street,
you better speak.
“Long time, no see.”
Sexy as I wanna be.
Some hittin me high.
Some hittin me low.
Some hittin me in my-
Don’t ask what.
My b u t t b u t t butt.
That’s what.
-Teneisha (10 years) and Antoinette (11 years) (African American females, East Hills section of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1998; collected by Azizi Powell, 1998
* Kickin it" means "relaxing with" ; "hangin" with (socializing with).

"Ginuwine" is a popular young African R&B singer. Three other late 1990s variations of this line that I have heard are “Kickin it with Busta Rhymes" (the name of a popular male Hip-Hop star) “Kickin it with Scooby Doo (the name of a canine cartoon figure) and “Kickin it with Winnie the Poo” (the name of a fictitious bear in children's stories).

The lines "If you ever see me on the street/you better speak" is taunting/braggadocio statement that the presence of that girl should be acknowledged by all those who see her. "Long time, no see” is a common saying that African Americans (and other Americans) use when greeting a person. The line "sexy as I wanna be" isn't something that a person would say out loud. Instead, I believe that that line just reflects why the chanter believes that she is worthy of attention from people walking down the street. That line can be interpreted to mean "I'm real sexy".

I was surprised to see this rhyme performed as a hand clap routine as I had previously seen it performed as a foot stomping cheer. Those two girls don’t remember that “Hollywood Goes Swinging” ever being performed as a foot stomping cheer. As a matter of fact, no one I've asked remembers that rhyme being performed as a cheer. That includes my daughter who is the source of most of the mid 1980s foot stomping cheers that I've collected, and who has a very clear memory of those other foot stomping cheers. But she only vaguely remembers "Hollywood Goes Swingin" being performed as a foot stomping cheer. However, apart from the performance of the earliest example of that rhyme that I've found (the 1978 Mother Hippletoe record) being described as "girls imitating cheerleaders", it seems to me that the foot stomping roots of "Hollywood Swinging" rhymes are evident in the fact that some of its lines are recited by one person at a time. In contrast, hand clap rhymes almost always recited in unison. In the case of this example of "Hollywood Swinging", the first girl says most of the rhyme while she and the other girl does hand clap routine. The girls then repeat the rhyme with the other girl saying the same words or slightly different words.

I asked Teneisha and Antoinette if they ever chanted "Hollywood Swinging" while doing foot stomps. They weren't sure what "foot stomping" meant so my daughter who was part of the game song program that I'm conducted demonstrated how to do the steppin performance that I call "foot stomps". The girls said that they didn't ever "do" "Hollywood Swingin" that way and they had never seeing anyone else perform that rhyme in any way other than as a hand clap game.

For the record, my daughter lived and I still live in the East Liberty section of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that is very close to the Garfield section of that city.

Example #2: HOLLYWOOD GOES SWINGIN' (fragment)
Hollywood goes swingin
Hollywood goes __ swingin
Swingin for Northside.
Swingin for the Eastside.
My name is Rita.
I'm Number 9
Going down Chicago line.
If you see me on the street
You better speak
[I'm uncertain about the next words that were spoken]
Hey hey, you think you cool.
Hey hey, cool enough to rule your school.
Hey hey, you think you bad.
Bad enough to [didn't remember the rest of the words to this rhyme]
-African American girls and boys; Northview Heights Buddy Program, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, August 19, 1999; collected by Azizi Powell

This rhyme was performed as a two person hand clap routine. The girls who shared this rhyme said that the line might be "Hollywood keeps swingin". The dash means to pause one beat. The girls said that in another version of "Hollywood Goes Swingin" they say "swingin for the good times /swingin for the bad times/ swingin every time".

"Northview Heights" is a sub-section of the Northside section of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The term "Eastside" wasn't used then and is still not used now to refer to a section of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The "East Hills section of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is about 40 minutes by car from the Northview Heights section of that city.

Example #3: HOLLYWOOD GOES SWINGIN' (fragment)
Hollywood (clap clap clap)
Hollywood (clap clap clap)
Hollywood goes swingin.
My name is Shanika.
I'll bust it out.
I'll party to the left
I'll party to the right.
I'll party all night.
I'll party all day.
My name is Sandra.
I'm number one [don't remember the rest]
I'm busting all day.
I'm busting all night.
She's busting to the left.
She's busting to the right.
-Shanika and Sandra (African American females, under 11 years old) ; Garfield section of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; November 1, 2000; collected by Azizi Powell, November 1, 2000

The Garfield section of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is located in the East end part of that city. That section is approximately 25 minutes by car from East Hills, and approximately 40 minutes by car from Northview Heights. It should also be noted that the Garfield and East Hills section of the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania are separated from Northview Heights by a river, highway, and two bridges.
"Busting" and "bust it out" here means something like "moving forward or doing something (like dancing) with a lot of swagger and confidence".

Both girls:
Hollywood, Hollywood
Hollywood goes swingin
Partner #1:
My name is Raya and I'm number 2
Kickin it with Scooby Doo
Hit me high
Hit me low
Hit me where you wanna go.
Repeat the entire rhyme with the partner #1 saying the lines that partner #1 said, but substitute her name or nickname and (preferably) change the number rhyme
-ConRaya E. (11 years); Sha'Ona K. (11 years); African American girls; Garfield section of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, June 12, 2008
"Scooby Doo" is a cartoon dog.

Thanks to Kool & The Gang for their musical legacy. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post and thanks to the publisher of this sound file on YouTube.

Thank you for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome


  1. This is the #1000 post on this blog.

    I started this blog in 2011 as a pastime so that I could document information & video examples of worldwide Black music, dance, and language arts, and share what I'm learning via the internet. I knew when I started this blog that I would be taking a folkloric and sociological approach to this subject matter. But I didn't know that I would focus much of my attention to transcribing the lyrics of old songs or the content of other videos which have no transcriptions already posted online.

    I've enjoyed & been inspired by my work on this blog. And I hope that you have also enjoyed and been inspired by some of these posts.

    My first pancocojams post was published August 29, 2011. Click for an updated version of that post (with additional videos).

    Remember to click the tags under each post to find to find posts on that subject.

    Thanks again for visiting. Please share your comments!