Text: “Well on the playground, we used to play a lot of hand shakes and we would clap and then sing them like :
‘double double this this”
and we would bump fists on the ‘double double’, and then clap each other’s hands on the ‘this this’.
double double that that
double this double that
double double this that’
We would do it over and over faster until we couldn’t go anymore. And we would use words with like two syllables sometimes like:
‘double double rain rain
double double bow bow
double rain double bow
double double rainbow.’”
Context: S said she can’t remember exactly when first heard the rhyme/handshake above, but that she and her friends frequently learned new ones and taught them to each other at school. S attended a Catholic school in Southern California for most of her education.
Analysis: S watched the following video and confirmed it’s the same as the handshake she also used to perform on the playground: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNm52EdG3cg&t=28s. Some sources categorize the song as a nursery rhyme, however S has never heard it without the handshake portion included or seen it written down. The British Library (https://www.bl.uk/playtimes/articles/an-introduction-to-clapping-games#:~:text=The%20earliest%20clapping%20game%20in,they%20were%20noted%20in%20France.) states that hand clapping games rose in popularity around the 1960s in the US and England. They began to be associated as a game between children in early 19th century France, but were recorded in relation to children by folklorist Peter Opie in 1698. The impressiveness of the coordination required by children to both sing and clap is what’s thought to have made clapping games popular. In this particular case, it may not be the lyrics of the rhyme used above that made it popular, but rather the rhythm and the versatility of the lyrics to be switched out for different two syllable words. However, the phrase “double double” is a phrase used frequently in slang and media. The repetition of the word double, implies urgency, “we need to leave on the double double.” There’s the popular In-n-Out cheeseburger which is popular in California (S’s native state), known as “the double double,” and movies like the 1993 Double Double Toil and Trouble.