Translate

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Is This Old Children's Cheer The Source Of VSU's "Who Cheers The Best" Stomp & Shake Cheer?

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams posts points out the close similarities between a text (word) version of an old children's foot stomping cheer with two texts and video examples of Virginia State University (VSU)'s often imitated stomp & shake cheer "Who Cheers The Best". Given those similarities, dependent on their composition dates, it seems likely to me that a version of this children's cheer is the source for VSU's 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 Virginia State University Woo Woo cheerleaders who are featured in this post's embedded videos. Hat tip to Ebony Janice Peace. the publisher of a YouTube video about Black children's rhymes, and hat tip to Nikkole Salter, a commenter on that video's discussion thread in 2015 whose comment I've highlighted in this post.

****
PANCOCOJAMS EDITOR'S NOTE:
Whenever the spirit moves me, I visit YouTube in search of examples of specific categories of children's rhymes and cheers, or examples of specific rhymes or cheers. Yesterday, I happened upon this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfzHL_1PdbY "Let's Discuss: Black Girl Childhood Hand Games and Sing Songs" published by Ebony Janice Peace, Published on Aug 4, 2014. In that video Ebony Janice Peace discusses her memory of children's hand clap rhymes and marvels about how so many of the same rhymes are known and performed by Black girls throughout the United States. Ms. Peace also discusses how some of those rhymes from her childhood and some contemporary Black girls rhymes have inappropriate lyrics.

As a collector of African American children's rhymes and cheers I was interested in hearing Ms. Peace's opinions on this subject. And I was delighted to read several examples of rhymes and cheers that were posted by commenters in that video's discussion thread. As it turns out, I had forgotten that I had watched this video before and had previously added some examples from that video's discussion thread to my collection of what I refer to as "foot stomping cheers", including this comment that was posted by Nikkole Salter in 2014:
"This is an L.A. perspective:... This first one is not so much a hand game as much as it is a cipher: You know, I shake the best, hey, hey/ You know, from the east to the west! My name's (enter your name) and my favorite color's black (or whatever color you like) / I took your man and you won't get him back, hey hey / You know, I shake the best, hey, hey/ You know, from the east to the west! (and every person gets a chance, state your color and your bravado in rhyme)... Then there was this other call & response cipher (which I don't hear too many people mention outside my generation and region)... Tether ball, tether ball/Oosha, asha!/Tether ball, tether ball/Oosha, asha! My name's (enter your name) (tether ball), super cool, (tether ball) You mess with me (tether ball) You's a fool (tether ball) I got this man (tether ball) On my mind (tether ball) You mess with him (tether ball) Your butt is straight up mine. Oooh. Tether ball, tether ball/Oosha, Asha! etc. -- You make up your own rhyme of bravado...

Unfortunately, Ms. Salter didn't include which decade these examples come from. However, her comment that few people "outside of her generation" know these examples suggests that they probably come from the 1990s, or earlier. I've collected three examples of "Tether Ball" -including Ms. Salter's example- and each of these examples are from Los Angeles, California.* A woman who shared an example of "Tether Ball" on my no longer active cocojams website indicated that she remembered it from the early 1990s. If Ms. Salter's version of "Tether Ball" (which is very similar to the other two that I've collected) is from the 1990s, then it's reasonable to assume that the other example in that comment "You know, I Share The Best" is also from the 1990s. As of this date, I haven't found any other "I Cheer The Best" children's cheers except those cheers that are patterned after Virginia State University's very popular stomp & shake cheer entitled "Who Cheers The Best".
-snip-
*Click https://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2016/09/foot-stomping-cheers-alphabetical-list_22.html Foot Stomping Cheers Alphabetical List (P- Z)

Also, click Here's an excerpt from https://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2013/05/an-overview-of-foot-stomping-cheers.html and https://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2013/05/overview-of-stomp-shake-cheerleading.html

****
CHILDREN'S FOOT STOMPING CHEER - "YOU KNOW, I CHEER THE BEST"
You know, I shake the best,
hey, hey/
You know, from the east to the west!
My name's (enter your name)
and my favorite color's black (or whatever color you like)/
I took your man and you won't get him back,
hey hey /
You know, I shake the best,
hey, hey/
You know, from the east to the west!


(and every person gets a chance, state your color and your bravado in rhyme)...
-Nikkole Salter (Los Angeles, California), comment in discussion thread for vlog https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfzHL_1PdbY
Let's Discuss: Black Girl Childhood Hand Games and Sing Songs")
-snip-
I reformatted this example from sentence form to line form.

Nikkole Salter introduced this cheer by saying "This first one is not so much a hand game as much as it is a cipher". I also want to highlight her points that these were "call and response ciphers", that "every person gets a chance, state your color and your bravado in rhyme", and that "you said your name" and "make up your own rhyme of bravado". These descriptions fit the conclusions that I've made about the recreational sub-category of children's cheers that I refer to as "foot stomping cheers". Prior to some of these cheers being adapted by mainstream children's cheerleading squads, these cheers were usually informally performed by two or more African American girls between the ages of 5-12 years who were pretending to be cheerleaders. "Traditionally", these call & response cheers had one soloist for each iteration. At the "end" of the cheer, the group repeated the complete cheer with a new soloist and this pattern continued until every person in the group had an equal turn as the soloist. (Notice Nikkole Salter's comment that "every person gets a chance, state your color and your bravado in rhyme".

In contrast, the stomp & shake cheer "Who Cheers The Best" isn't a call & response cheer, but is chanted by the squad in unison.

****
VIRGINIA STATE UNIVERSITY CHEER WHO CHEERS THE BEST

VSU Woo Woo's 2008 "Who Shakes The Best"



BlaWaiian2008, Published on Mar 17, 2013

VSU Cheerleaders (Virginia State University)
-snip-
Here's the words to that cheer:
Shake it to the east.
Shake it to the west.
It really doesn't matter who shakes the best.
Shake it to the east.
Shake it to the west.
It really doesn't matter who shakes the best.
Shake it to the east.
Shake it to the west.
Cause everybody knows that we shake the best.
-Virginia State University Woo Woos, transcribed by Azizi Powell from the video.
-snip-
In a 2011 video of the Woo Woos performing "Who Shakes The Best" the words are slightly changed, but the routine is basically the same. Here's that text example and that video:

VSU Woo Woo (Who shakes Da Best)



TrueVSU1882 Published on Mar 31, 2011

WHO SHAKES DA BEST [version #2)
Shake it to the east.
Shake it to the west.
It really doesn't matter who shakes the best.

Shake it to the east.
Shake it to the west.
It really doesn't matter who shakes the best.

Ah hey!
'Cause we shake the best
Everybody knows that we shake the best
To the East.
To the West.
Shake it!
-from VSU Woo Woo (Who shakes Da Best video, Mar 31, 2011,
This is my transcription of that cheer from that video

****
The earliest example of this stomp & shake cheer that I've found is a 2007 video of a Virginia high school cheerleading squad (Prince Edward High School's Sassys) performing "We Shake The Best" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jnwq5Pq40A SASSY (We Shake The Best). The words to that cheer are the same as the words to "Who Shakes The Best".

Several commenters writing in the discussion thread noted that that squad learned that cheer from the Virginia Woo Woos at cheer camp & because their cheerleader was a member of the Woo Woo squad.

Here's that video: Prince Edward High School, Virginia - "We Shake The Best"



Uploaded by woowooworkit on Feb 17, 2007
-snip-
Prince Edward High School, Virginia (Sassy cheerleaders, 2007 (This is a Virginia State University cheer that this squad learned by attending the cheer camp conducted by the VSU Woo Woo cheerleaders).

Notice that the name of the publisher of that video refers to the "Woo Woos".

****
PANCOCOJAMS CONCLUDING NOTE:
In addition to the similar titles, the old children's cheer (that Nikkole Salter referred to as a "cipher") and VSU's stomp and shake cheer have
1. very similar titles
2. references to "the east and the west"

I don't know when the cheer "You Know, I Shake The Best" was first chanted, or when Virginia State University (VSU) first performed their stomp & shake cheer "Who Shakes The Best". My position is that it's likely that someone from VSU's Woo Woo squad creatively adapted this children's cheer. I'm not sure that VSU's Woo Woos are happy aabout this, but currently it seems that their "Who Cheers The Best" cheer has become one of the most imitated stomp & shake cheers today by high school, middle schools, and community stomp & shake cheerleader squads as well as by mainstream children's cheerleader squads that incorporate modified stomp & shake cheers and movements into their repertoires.

If you know this children's cheer, for the folkloric record, please share the example that you know, along with when you learned it (the decade) and the city/state where you learned it in the comment section below. Thanks!

****
Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.

No comments:

Post a Comment