Let's Get the Rhythm Coming to the Mead

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Visit any playground from New York City to New Orleans, from Portugal to Senegal, and you’re apt to see girls playing hand-games. Or, as the girls who play them call them…Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack; or Pat-a-Cake; or Miss Susie Had a Steamboat, to name just a few. 

What’s in a game? Let’s Get the Rhythm, a documentary film that will be playing at this year’s Margaret Mead Film Festival, explores the hidden-in-plain-sight history of this classic childhood pastime. 


Weaving together footage from today and from the past—including scenes from South Carolina and from Angola in the 1930s—the filmmakers interview folklorists, poets, writers, and community organizers to learn the history and social significance of these rhythmic, recreational group games.

But it’s when the girls themselves—or their mothers and grandmothers—talk and play that the film truly comes to life. We hear chants and claps of “Shimmy, Shimmy Cocoa Puffs” or  “Lemonade—clap clap clap—Crunchy Ice—tap tap tap…” that may sound familiar to audience members from five to 75. In the same way, as the adults on film start to recall their youthful playing, you can see them loosen and relax. And as the girls from South Korea, Mexico, Brazil, Russia, Spain, France, Thailand, play and clap, they just look….happy. It’s infectious! 

Let’s Get the Rhythm will screen on Sunday, October 26, at 12:30 pm

Other family-friendly films and events at the Mead include:

Discover Pacific Northwest Culture 

On Saturday, October 25, from 11 am to 2 pm, families can join Kwakiutl First Nation storytellers to play games and sing songs, and watch films from the Gwa'sala-'Nakwaxda'xw First Nation. Discover the traditions behind each activity and experience the cultures on display in the Museum's Hall of Northwest Coast Indians in dynamic, new ways. 

Dr. Sarmast’s Music School

Sunday, October 26, 4 pm

Is there a place for art in a conflict zone? Dr. Sarmast’s Music School tells the remarkable story of Afghanistan’s first National Institute of Music (ANIM), established eight years after the Taliban was toppled from power. ANIM and its implacable leader Ahmad Sarmast chip away at their dream of a safe space filled with fine instruments and aspiring young musicians.

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