No men, no kids. Weekly San Diego Double Dutch games are about sisterhood
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You're listening to K PBS midday edition. I'm Jade Henman with Christina Kim, Maureen Kavanaugh is off double Dutch is when a group uses two jump ropes with one person in the middle, jumping and dancing and singing to music. It's a cherished childhood pass time, but K PBS race and equity reporter. Christina Kim says some local women are reclaiming double Dutch as adults and creating a healing space in the process.
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Any given Wednesday night at the allied gardens community center, chances are you'll hear the sound of music echoing off the basketball court. Cement. You'll also hear the sound of women all over the age of 40 laughing and playing double Dutch.
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I'm excited when I come to double Dutch, like when I know it's Wednesdays, you can ask my husband and my son it's. I'm like it's double Dutch Wednesdays.
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That's Seara shields, the captain and founder of San Diego's 40 plus double Dutch chapter. She first started the club last after seeing a viral video on Facebook about the original 40 plus double Dutch group in Chicago.
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I looked at it and I said, wait, where are these women? I need friends like this.
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She organized a club and then started spreading the word locally.
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I put it on black San Diego and asked, Hey, um, I'm looking for women over 40. If you're interested, DME and I had about out 50 50 plus women say, Hey, I'm interested. Where
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Are you? 15 of those 50 women became the core San Diego chapter. They're all older than 40 years old and proud of it. Okay. Young
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Oh, you gonna be older than in fact their ages are in blazant on the back of their club. T-shirts that's the only rule everyone's welcome. But you have to be a woman and you have to be over 40. We
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Don't wanna deal with men with boyfriends, with husbands. We don't wanna deal with kids. This, we want this to be a time for
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Us. Pamela Robinson is the founder of the first 40 plus double Dutch group in Chicago. And she oversees over 100 sub clubs around the world, because
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At the age of 40, you do so much for other people. We're always doing for other people and holding everything together for everybody else. So we need some time to just hold ourselves together,
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Back in San Diego. We're Rosa bar Williams has been part of the group since the beginning.
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I think it's just bringing out the youth and, and all of us. And that's why I think it's the 40 plus, you know, although you're 40, it doesn't matter. You can still come here, have fun. Bring your childhood games with you.
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The formula is simple. Each time the club meets, they take turns playing double.
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So now this is just us getting our double Dutch, our
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Warmup. They hula hoop. We got
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A party, we got a 50, we got,
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And they dance. It's really good exercise, but it's also more than that.
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I've had several horrible days and , if it wasn't on a Wednesday where we do meet, it was one of my sisterhoods in the back behind me, all of my sisters, being able to help me out, being able to just reach out out to side of the whole jump. You know, Wednesday is just the day we come together, but we are there for each other each and every
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Week. And that sisterhood is exactly what Regina Dixon Reeves was looking for when she joined the group after moving to San Diego in July,
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And we have such a small, uh, black population in San Diego about 5%. And so I was just looking for people who kind of looked like me, who had some of the activities that I did
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Shortly after moving. She had to get emergency dental surgery. She didn't know anyone. It was Rosa, her fellow jumper who took care of her and told her
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Girl, you here by yourself, I'll drive. You I'll see about you. I'll make sure that you are all right, right. If I hadn't had this group, I will and have had that connection in
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The end. It's a place all their own, where they can reconnect with who they used to be
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For an hour, hour and a half. You get to just kind of laugh and joke and be a kid again. Um, be a black girl. That is wonderful. Cuz one thing about it, many of us, black girls, we grew up a lot too fast. And so this gives you a chance to revisit
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That because sometimes in order to be an adult in this world, it helps to remember what it was like to be a kid again, which is why every Wednesday, these local San Diego women are making the time to lace up their sneakers and play until the lights go out. Christina Kim KPBS news.
On any given Wednesday night at the Allied Gardens Community Center, music echoes off the basketball court’s cement.
And in between verses of The Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight,” the sound of women laughing pierces the air.
They’re all there to play the game Double Dutch, when two people swing two jump ropes and a person in between them jumps and dances to the beat. It’s a cherished childhood pastime with deep roots in Black culture, but these players are not kids.
The rule at San Diego’s 40+ Double Dutch Club is you have to identify as a woman and be over 40.
Setra Shields, the captain, started the club this past summer after she saw a viral Facebook video of the original 40+ Double Dutch group in Chicago.
“I looked at it and said, ‘Wait, where are these women? I need friends like this,’” she said.
She reached out to the original group in Chicago, learned how to start her own group and spread the word locally by posting about it on the Black San Diego Facebook page.
The response was immediate with more than 50 women contacting her in a matter of days.
Since then she’s developed a core group of 15 who regularly show up to play.
They're all 40 years old or older and proud of it. The numbers on the back of their club shirts represent their ages.
The formula is simple.
Each week, Shields, who is also a trained exercise instructor, leads the women as they play Double Dutch, hula hoop and African hopscotch. They also just dance.
“We don’t want to deal with men, with boyfriends, with husbands,” said Pamela Robinson, the founder of the 40+ Double Dutch Club in Chicago.
Robinson’s small group in Chicago has grown to more than 100 clubs around the world, including in Israel and Ghana. She said the interest shows the need for women to have a space of their own.
“At the age of 40 you do so much for other people. We’re always doing for other people and holding everything together for everybody else,” she said. “So we need time to just hold ourselves together.”
Double Dutch is good exercise, but in this all-women setting it’s also a place to recharge and heal from the hectic demands of daily life.
Rosa Barr Williams has been part of the group since the beginning. She didn’t know anyone before she joined the group, but now her fellow 40+ Double Dutch club members have become like family.
“I’ve had several horrible days, and if it wasn’t on a Wednesday when we do meet, it was one of my sisterhood in the back behind me,” she said, gesturing to her friends. “Wednesday is just the day we come together, but we’re there for each other, each and every week.”
Regina Dixon-Reeves joined the group when she moved to San Diego from Chicago in July. Shortly after moving, she had to undergo emergency dental surgery. She still didn’t know many people, so it was Barr Williams, her fellow jumper, who stepped in to take care of her.
“(Rosa) told me, ‘Girl, you are here by yourself, I’ll drive you, I’ll see about you, and I’ll make sure you are all right,’” she recalled. “If I hadn’t had this group, I wouldn’t have had that connection.”
In the midst of the pandemic, when so many have struggled with isolation, the weekly outdoor Double Dutch session offers these women a healing space to connect with each other and reconnect with who they used to be when they were children.
“For an hour, hour and a half, you get to just laugh and joke and be a kid again, be a Black girl,” said Dixon-Reeves. “And that is wonderful because…many of us Black girls grew up too fast and so this gives us a chance to revisit that.”