In between an outdoor boxing class and a children’s birthday party in Fort Greene Park on a recent Sunday afternoon, a group of women are preparing to hop rhythmically between ropes like they did in their formative years. For most of them, it’s been more than a decade since they’ve picked up a rope. But after some light encouragement they seemed eager to see what their bodies could do all these years later.

“I'm just happy to kind of reminisce — I hope I don't break anything or tear anything,” attendee Carelle Cherebin said, gleefully. “Because it's been a minute.”

As more people spotted the blue and white shirts worn by hosts Natelegé Whaley, 33, and Naima Moore Turner, 29, the time for their pop-up Double Dutching event arrived. They revealed two long, yellow rubbery ropes from a tote bag, and advised the women in attendance to stretch before things get started.

“We try and make sure everybody stretches beforehand, because you’re just like 'Oh, aw!'" Turner said. "You feel it different now."

Whaley agreed. “In the gym, where you have to do spurts of a workout and then you stop, it's exactly that. But you don't think about it like that when you're jumping rope. Which is perfect.”

What started as a one-time get together has flourished into Brooklyn Recess. Created by Whaley and Turner, the group is dedicated to preserving and passing down the activity of Double Dutching, the game that calls for one person to jump between two long ropes swinging in opposite directions for as long as they can.

People had been jumping rope in New York City since the 1930s, but Double Dutching grew in popularity when David A. Walker, a New York City Police Community Affairs Detective, developed the pastime into a competitive sport in the 1970s. Walker realized girls had fewer opportunities to participate in sports, so he created official rules for the game, and worked with physical education teachers to integrate Double Dutch into gym classes.

In 1974, he hosted the first Double Dutch tournament, with almost 600 students competing. As participation increased, so did opportunities to compete. In 1991 the Apollo Theater began hosting the Double Dutch Holiday Classic, an annual tournament that brings competitors from all over the world. New York City’s Education Department made Double Dutch an official sport in a handful of high schools in 2009.

Double Dutch has remained popular in some Black communities, including Bedford-Stuyvesant, where Whaley and Turner are from. The two said they founded Brooklyn Recess in the summer of 2018 out of a desire to have some childhood fun.

“One summer I kept tweeting 'I want to play Double Dutch, who is down for a link up?'" Turner said. "And Natalage was just like, 'Listen, I'll do it with you' ⁠— and the rest is history.”

Turner and Whaley designed a flier, posted call-outs on social media, and told their network of friends — around 40 people came to their spontaneous gathering.

“We had like four or five ropes going, and so many kids and family came out,” Turner said. “And then as we're jumping, people coming out of the train or walking to the train station are stopping by to get jumps.” That’s how she met one of the members of their street team, she recalled.

“He was going to the train, and he sat on the side and watched us," Turner said. "And we just like, 'Come get a jump!' And he came down and he killed it! He's been coming to pop-ups ever since. So it's very much community based. Very organic. And it's beautiful.”

Every summer since 2018, the two have hosted their pop-up events in different places throughout Brooklyn. They began hosting gatherings in late May and will continue until late August. While they hold most of their events in parks, sometimes they'll bring the ropes out to places where they know the community will be present.

“Two weeks ago, we were at the DanceAfrica Festival, which is very popular in Brooklyn — it's like the official kickoff to like Black Brooklyn summer,” Whaley said. “We said, let's make that our start to summer officially as well, because we know people are going to be there, and we know people are going to know how to jump. So sometimes we go to bigger events, and we bring the ropes there where the people are.”

The community has proved willing to come to them, too. Attendee Noemi Macias said she caught two local trains from Harlem to finally learn the basics. Macias said because she was double handed (a term used to describe someone who can't turn the ropes on beat), she was almost never allowed to participate in jumping rope.

“Then when it came time for me to actually jump, they were impatient with me with trying to get in," Macias said. "They were like, 'Okay, now, now, now!' And I would always take forever to jump in the rope. So when I saw that these ladies were doing this ⁠— and they had like different levels, and they seem to be really nice towards people who don't know how to jump ⁠— I was like, you know, I'm gonna give it a try.”

After warming up their bodies, some jumpers have found their stride, and ask the rope turners to pick up the pace. As the ropes move faster, so do their feet. They begin to throw in twists and turns, as though they're tap dancing between the ropes.

“It seems you're just jumping, but that's also a time for creativity,” said Carelle Cherebin, a physician who hopes Brooklyn Recess will encourage younger people to put down their phones and spice up how the game is played. “I'm curious about, you know, kids nowadays, if they were to learn this, if they would incorporate things like the ''Dougie' and ''Getting Sturdy' and, you know, all these things into jumping," she added. "Like incorporating the different time frames, the different eras and the style.”

Turner and Whaley have plans to form an official non-profit organization. Until then, they feel it’s important to keep on hosting pop-ups as a way to create space for Black people in a rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn.

“Unfortunately, a lot of people have had to leave not by choice," Whaley said. "But we want to let other people who are still here know: We are here for you, and we have this space for you, so come out.”

The next Brooklyn Recess Double Dutch Pop-Up will be held in Brower Park on June 25th at 1 p.m.; click here for more information and to R.S.V.P.

Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled Natelegé Whaley's first name.