A new NPR profile this week celebrates the art and legacy of jumping double dutch–the game that came to create and define Black Girl Magic as the artform enters its 50th year as an organized sport.
“Double Dutch is Black girl magic. It came from a union of young girls in their community getting together to socialize, and to engage in each other’s dreams and ambitions,” Lauren Walker, president of the National Double Dutch League told NPR.
In 1973, two New York City policemen, Ulysses Williams and Lauren Walker’s father David A. Walker established Double Dutch as a team sport and got it into schools. The following year, more than 600 people participated in the first New York City tournament. Five years later, four New York double dutch participants known as “The Added Touch” were in the 1978 World Wide Double Dutch championship. The team would later change its name to “The Fantastic Four.”
“We changed our name, changed our attitude. And we brought it,” Robin Oakes Waterson, an original team member, said to NPR.
When they won the championship in 1980, the team went on to pop culture stardom starring in Mcdonald’s commercials and an Emmy-award-winning 1981 documentary titled Pick Up Your Feet.
The next year, the team became iconic when also In 1981, Frankie Smith released the hit song “Double Dutch Bus.” The team became a part of Hip-Hop culture when they were asked to perform at The Roxy alongside DJs, MCs, graffiti artists, and B-boys. This led to the team’s participation in the New York City Rap Tour, which traveled to across the Atlantic, bringing the culture to European audiences.
The profile goes on to share that photos of the girls who were members of the team were often mislabeled leading to a slow erasure of their influence on the rise of Hip-Hop culture. “What’s missing and the reason why people don’t know it is that that narrative is not perpetuated by most of the men who tell the story of Hip-Hop,” says Kyra Gaunt–who gave a Ted Talk on the subject.
And yet, the profile notes, Double Dutch was not completely erased from the culture as it was seen in videos such as Nelly’s 2000 debut single “Country Grammar,” which borrows from the hand-clapping game “Down Down Baby,” and Missy Elliott’s “Gossip Folks,” which samples Frankie Smith’s “Double Dutch Bus,” and 2019’s “Throw it Back,” whose music video features a scene where Elliot’s braids double as jump ropes.
Early next year, the Cartoon Network animated series Craig of the Creek will air a Double Dutch-themed episode co-written by Ashleigh Hairston. The episode will feature a voice appearance by Elliott as a rival Double Dutch jumper to Craig’s mom.
Read more about Double Dutch and the celebration of the culture on NPR.
New NPR Profile Celebrates The Intersection Of Double Dutch And Hip-Hop was originally published on hiphopwired.com