street culture

INSIDE THE COOL: The 25th Annual Double Dutch Classic 2016

"Knees up!" "Push!' "Focus ladies!" were just some of the exciting support words yelled from the teammates of this year's double dutch competition at the World-Famous Apollo Theater. Hundreds of kids showed up and showed out with a mix of gymnastics  infused with upbeat dance music inside swirling ropes this past Sunday at the 25th Annual Double Dutch Classic held by The National Double Dutch Leauge.  

Before we get into the insane highlights from some of the most talented kids on the planet in this year's competition, let's get the real scoop on the story of double dutch. Jump ropes games are not a new discovery, but for urban American communities the jump rope game of double dutch holds a special space amongst the Black community. Double Dutch was first seen played by the children of Dutch settlers here in New York City. The English immigrants coined the term "Double Dutch" after seeing Dutch children play jump rope games with two ropes instead of the traditional single rope games. The popular street game was specifically adopted and perfected by Black girls in the urban communities of NYC after World War II. While the games had various popularity waves throughout several decades, it was until the late 1970's that the schoolyard game gained a new rebirth of flair and exposure with help of two community NYPD officers who wanted girls and young women to positively develop their athletic skill and be celebrated.  

Detective Ulysses Williams – 1st Double Dutch Clinic for Mobil Oil 1975 (  Archive Photos Courtesy of Mike Williams)

Detective Ulysses Williams – 1st Double Dutch Clinic for Mobil Oil 1975 (Archive Photos Courtesy of Mike Williams)

In the 1980's double dutch really cast its spell amongst the urban communities of New York City after founders of The National Double Dutch League and former NYPD detectives David A. Walker and Ulysses Williams decided to transform the street game into a competitive sport with intricate rules, score sheets and tournaments. The development of The National Double Dutch League allowed for the organization to incorporate double dutch in the public school gym classes and city intramural programs. The street game also became synonymous with the beginning elements of Hip-Hop culture and its performance showmanship. When the fellas have football, basketball, baseball, and hip-hop, how do you break up that male-dominated scene and bring positive female energy? You pay real attention to the community and highlight their talents by bringing the sources to develop those skills to them. 

Fantastic Four, Lincoln Center

Fantastic Four, Lincoln Center

 

From the old recreational activity of jumping with two ropes to an Olympic-style competitive international sport that combines art, culture, and athleticism, double dutch has always been more than just a street a game.  In a world where social media and video games have stifled the physical activity of children, experiencing the competition sport of double dutch reveals the importance of positive creative physical activity amongst children.  Creating teams, working together, developing new ideas, and establishing leadership skills and athleticism are just some of the things that go into development when pairing up with a double dutch team.  

Each year at The Annual Double Dutch Classic teams competes from all over the world showcasing their creative skill between the ropes. This year's competition brought a team as far as northern Africa hailing from Morocco. Ariels, round-off, and flips are just some of the gymnastics tricks these competitors pulled out their back pockets during the competition. It was an afternoon of high-level excitement, team chanting, and fastest most creative footwork movement of all times on that Apollo Theater stage.  Lauren Walker the president of The NDDL admits she is proud to see the legacy of her father continued each year with so many competitors. Mor important than having the competition itself is filling the world with positive activity and keep it going. Watching new faces come in and break old records while creating new innovative routines that stay true to its urban roots is proof of how big the influence of culture and sportsmanship is to all communities.

Check out our exclusive highlight of the exciting competition

 

 

 

 

 

The Street Culture Story behind The Double Dutch Classic

Found on the many sidewalks and playgrounds of New York City's concrete streets, Double Dutch a childhood game was birthed from the Aborigines and the Egyptians. It has been practiced for centuries by various cultures around the world. Fast forward to the 1940's and 1950's , the popularity of jumping rope became a playtime favorite amongst girls because of NYC's narrow cramped apartments that came with sprawling concrete front yards. Girls would take their mother's wet clotheslines and rush to the sidewalks eagerly creating funny and clever song chants with jump rope games.

Art by  Chris Kindred

In the 1970's jump rope games became popular again going back to its concrete roots when former NYC Police Community Affairs Detective, David A. Walker, and his partner Detective Ulysses Williams reinvented the street game adding rules and regulations to turn the game into a nationally recognized competitive sport. That transformation from a simple playtime game favorite to an exciting sport of intense competition has manifested  into the international class sport that it is today. Detectives David and Ulysses realized that the NYC's sports culture was geared towards boys and men. The community sports culture was male dominated and just not fun and competitive for girls and women.  Together the NYPD veterans decided to create a community sports league that was safe, fun, and competitive for girls and young women. The female youth were able to develop skills, esteem, and discipline for showmanship competition and at a cultural sport they loved. Essentially, the double dutch sport was hand built by the community with the support of the police department. As The National Double Dutch League began to reach out to public school gym teachers, the sport began to spread throughout New York City and the competition was bold, exciting and fierce. 

By 1974, David and Ulysses launched the first American Double Dutch League championship at Lincoln Center. Laren Walker daughter of the late founder David A, Walker, and the leagues' current president says, " the leagues' goal was to take double dutch, and urban traditional sport and take it to the next level and really let Black girls and the community shine. It was an opportunity to make double dutch an Olympic sport." With 25 years of competition under their belt there is no denying Lauren's father's legacy has unfolded right before her eyes in with its roots in Harlem.

The emergence and popularity of hip-hop played a key role in popularizing many facets of hip-hop street culture and one of the most interesting creations with the sport of double dutch. Hip-Hop catapulted the double dutch phenomenon from New York City streets to overseas in cities like Paris, France. The innovate bold personality and freedom of creation of hip-hop culture captivated the masses around the globe. Fab 5 Freddy particularly solidified the concept of merging hip-hop and double dutch because it was an authentic fabric piece to the street culture and a great element to add to the diverse umbrella of hip-hop art culture. Hip-hop pioneers Grand Master Flash, Afrika Bambaataa, and Fab 5 Freddy alongside graffiti writers, rappers, DJ's, and double dutch girls all defined the birth of hip-hop. It was the popularity of NYC's street force, the 1980's influence of hip-hop, and the community support that allowed the league to not only be a competition program but become a catalyst in fighting the drug era in NYC and creating opportunities for the youth in spite of the times. Growing from a community sports organization on the street of Harlem to citywide and nationwide championships with nearly 100,000 girls and boys representing schools and communities from all over the US.

As the predecessor of her dad, Lauren Walker plans to continue her father's legacy of community teamwork, cooperative economics, and positive self-esteem by expanding the competition circuit of the teams internationally. The National Double Dutch League is continuously developing its sports programs and adding them to community organizations and specialty camps for the youth.

For the celebratory 25th year, The Annual Double Dutch Classic will be held at the World-Famous Apollo Theater this Sunday, December 4, 2016, from 1pm - 4pm. The competition will be hosted by OWN TV's star of Tyler Perry's "Love Thy Number" Kendre C. Johnson. Coined, "The Superbowl of Double Dutch" by president Lauren Walker the competition highlights national and international communities competing in three categories:

  • Speed & Compulsory (fastest team)
  • Fusion Freestyle (double dutch choreographed with music)
  • Best in Show: (the championship title for the best Fusion Freestyle team)

This year's participants come from Africa (Morocco and South Africa,) Belgium, Dominican Republic, France Japan, Trinidad, and U.S. states which include CT, DC, NJ, NYC, NC, and SC. The 2016 Double Dutch Holiday Classic is sponsored by American Dairy Association & Dairy Council, Coca0Cola, Eastport, Con Edison, and New York Daily News. The NDDL 25th Annual David A. Walker  Memorial, Double Dutch Classic makes possible speed and music fusion events for the best Double Dutch teams in the world. Each year since 1992, the double Dutch Classic has previously sold out to parent supported, standing room only audiences.

Tune in next week for our exclusive "INSIDE THE COOL" coverage of the 25th anniversary!!!