"Double Dutch" jumprope
through two jumpropes which twirl
in opposite directions
, somewhat like an eggbeater
. The ropes are turned by two people who stand facing one another, each holding one end of each rope. The jumproper is positioned between the two rope turners as he or she jumps in place. Double Dutch jumproping was historically a game
played by girls
Double Dutch gained popularity over many years, primarily in urban areas, as a game for girls. It has became a favorite pastime to sing rhymes while turning and jumping. After World War II, the game was often seen on the sidewalks of New York City in front of apartment houses where children could be safely supervised by mothers and neighbors. The girls used clothesline rope discarded by their mothers. But by the late 1950s, the radio music boom, the dangers of sidewalk play and the lack of recreational areas close to apartment buildings had made the game nearly extinct.
In 1973, several New York City police officers and physical education teachers developed the present day sport of Double Dutch. The American Double Dutch League was formed, and the first Double Dutch competition was conducted at the Frederick Douglas Academy (formerly I.S. 10) in Harlem. Every year a different state hosts the World Invitational Tournament run by the league.
The origin of the name "Double Dutch" is from the rivalry between England and The Netherlands in the 1600's, when many European nations were establishing global empires. At the time, the English referred to anything they didn't like or considered foreign as "Dutch." Even hundreds of years later in America, something confusing (as mentioned in a writeup above) or difficult was referred to as "high dutch" or "double dutch." The confusing and difficult nature of jumping into and through the alternating ropes warranted its name.
sources: http://www.word-detective.com/, http://www.addl.org/