Sweat rolled down competitors’ foreheads as teams from as far as France and Japan competed in the 24th annual Double Dutch Holiday Classic at the Apollo last Sunday.
Double Dutch competitions first started in 1974. They involve speed tests, doubles sets and dance components. But don’t be fooled. It’s not just a child’s game anymore.
“It has evolved to a cultural art, music, dance and a sport,” said Lauren Walker, the event director and producer.
Forth graders, millennials and even some middle-aged adults jumped, skipped and danced their way to success on the stage of the world famous Apollo. The house was packed and lively. The teams were loud, yelling instructions to each other trying to keep rhythm. The competition was fierce.
Teams competed in drills that included 2-minute speed tests and other compulsory moves, such as high steps and crisscross jumping. But the main event that night was the choreographed danced competition known as fusion freestyle.
The foreign teams were among the crowd favorites, eventually winning Best of Show. Japanese teams, Chap-Lin and B-Jack, took first and second place, respectively. The French team, Skip-R Crew, came in third.
A 22-year-old French Double Dutch competitor named Jefferson wasn’t in the classic, but he was still happy to be there. He said that five years ago at a similar competition, he was inspired to take up the sport.
“In 2010, there was the world Championship in Paris,” he explained. “A friend sent me an invitation and I went. When I saw the jumping, I was like, amazing! Wow! I want to do that!”
Double Dutch has come a long way from the inner city streets and playgrounds. Lauren Walker’s father, David A. Walker, was the founder of the National Double Dutch League and the person in whose memory the competition is held.
In the 1970s, David Walker was an NYPD officer walking the beat when he saw some young ladies playing Double Dutch in the street. It was then he decided to make the recreational activity into a competitive sport. Today, in 2015, it has become so much more.
“Double Dutch is not only a great activity or a fun sport to do in the school yard as recreation but also we can show a healthy way to compete — healthy competition and that’s what we have here today,” Lauren Walker said. “It’s also a lot of fun to watch.”
Despite the sport’s growing popularity overseas and it officially becoming a high school varsity sport in New York City a few years back, Walker believes the sport can still jump to new heights.
“We hope to one day have it in the Olympics,” she said.
And why not? With skating, curling and synchronized swimming all part of the games, Double Dutch just might have a chance to make it into the 2020 Olympics.