Before kids whiled away their days staring at a tiny illuminated screen, they took to New York streets to play double Dutch.
“All we had was jump rope and urban street gangs and handball and all that stuff,” Lauren Walker told Metro.
Walker is the president of the National Double Dutch League, which has 100,000 members worldwide and was created in 1974 by her father, David, an NYPD officer. He and his partner, Ulysses Williams, elevated the game from the streets to a true competitive sport, one that remains a varsity sport in some public schools.
“Double Dutch has created lawyers, doctors and gave kids a safe haven in schools, and, when the competitions came along, it gave them an opportunity to engage in and represent their community,” said Walker, who participated as a kid and took over the NDDL when her father died in 2008.
Under his guidance, double Dutch grew into a worldwide phenomenon, with tournaments all over the world, including one that ran for 10 years at Lincoln Center.
“The whole reason he wanted to have it there was so that our community could take advantage of this beautiful venue in the middle of New York City,” Walker said.
For the first time in more than 30 years, double Dutchers will leap at Lincoln Center on Saturday and Sunday as part of the its “Out of Doors” summer series.
The family-friendly event includes double Dutch demonstrations, an open jump for the public, panel discussions, a national competition, live music and a screening of “Pick Up Your Feet: The Double Dutch Show.”
While the NDDL has held an annual international competition at the Apollo Theater for the past 25 years, “this event invites the urban community back to Lincoln Center,” Walker said. “We feel honored.”
The weekend aims to celebrate double Dutch’s important place in New York history — and ensure its future.
“It encourages the public of all ages to come out and try double Dutch for fun and maybe want to start a team,” Walker said. “And for all those adults that used to jump back in the days to come and rekindle that old part of the playground.”