If you do it right, it should sound like:
TICK-tat, TICK-tat, TICK-tat,
TICK-tat, TICK-tat, TICK-tat.
If you do it wrong, it sounds like:
Tick-TAT, tick-TAT, tick-TAT.
[Small thing. Big idea.]
[Kyra Gaunt on
the Jump Rope]
The jump rope is such a simple object.
It can be made out of rope,
a clothesline, twine.
It has, like, a twirl on it. (Laughs)
I'm not sure how to describe that.
is that it has a certain weight,
and that they have
that kind of whip sound.
It's not clear what the origin
of the jump rope is.
There's some evidence
that it began in ancient Egypt, Phoenicia,
and then it most likely traveled
to North America with Dutch settlers.
The rope became a big thing
when women's clothes became more fitted
and the pantaloon came into being.
And so, girls were able to jump rope
because their skirts
wouldn't catch the ropes.
Governesses used it
to train their wards to jump rope.
Even formerly enslaved African children
in the antebellum South
jumped rope, too.
In the 1950s, in Harlem,
Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens,
you could see on the sidewalk,
lots of girls playing with ropes.
Sometimes they would take two ropes
and turn them as a single rope together,
but you could separate them and turn
them in like an eggbeater on each other.
The skipping rope
was like a steady timeline --
tick, tick, tick, tick --
upon which you can add rhymes
and rhythms and chants.
Those ropes created a space
where we were able
to contribute to something
that was far greater
than the neighborhood.
Double Dutch jump rope remains
a powerful symbol of culture and identity
for black women.
Back from the 1950s to the 1970s,
girls weren't supposed to play sports.
Boys played baseball,
basketball and football,
and girls weren't allowed.
A lot has changed, but in that era,
girls would rule the playground.
They'd make sure
that boys weren't a part of that.
It's their space, it's a girl-power space.
It's where they get to shine.
But I also think it's for boys,
because boys overheard those,
which is why, I think,
so many hip-hop artists
sampled from things that they heard
in black girls' game songs.
(Chanting) ... cold, thick shake,
act like you know how to flip,
Filet-O-Fish, Quarter Pounder,
french fries, ice cold, thick shake,
act like you know how to jump.
Why "Country Grammar" by Nelly
became a Grammy Award-winning single
was because people already knew
"We're going down down baby
your street in a Range Rover ... "
That's the beginning of "Down down, baby,
down down the roller coaster,
sweet, sweet baby, I'll never let you go."
All people who grew up
in any black urban community
would know that music.
And so, it was a ready-made hit.
The Double Dutch rope playing
helped maintain these songs
and helped maintain the chants
and the gestures that go along with it,
which is very natural
to what I call "kinetic orality" --
word of mouth and word of body.
It's the thing that gets
passed down over generations.
In some ways, the rope
is the thing that helps carry it.
You need some object
to carry memory through.
So, a jump rope, you can use it
for all different kinds of things.
It crosses cultures.
And I think it lasted
because people need to move.
And I think sometimes the simplest objects
can make the most c