young black guys & rolling up pants?

I live in Washington DC and have found myself wondering…what is the deal with all these young, “gangsta”-style black guys rolling up ** one** leg of their pants but not the other? Does it have special significance if the left leg is rolled versus the right?

Please enlighten the token white girl! This looks like an uncomfortable way to wear one’s clothing, but perhaps I’m overly obsessed with symmetry…

(token white male responding…)
From what I’ve heard, it’s a “gang thing” in that you could wear a sock that had your “gang colors” on it and people would check out your sock to see your gang affiliation.

Probably resulted from schools/other places banning kids from wearing gang colors in a more prominent way. (I remember hearing about this in the context of some school also banning the rolling up of pants legs.)

(whitey chick here)
I went to a high school where one-leg pants rolling was banned (although the administration banned anything that groups of minority kids did and called it “gang activity”). We wondered about this a lot, and I remember somebody telling me that having one pant leg up meant the other leg had a weapon concealed under it. This was high school after all though, so the kid who told me this may very well have been full of poo.

Whew, this de-lurking stuff ain’t so bad after all.

<totally off-topic>
I remember reading about Bosnia-Hercegovina after it was taken over by Austria-Hungary in 1886. The Bosnian soldiers in the Austrian army were forced to wear long pants, something they had never done before and didn’t like. As long as they were on duty, the officers made the enlisted men keep their pants full length, but as soon as they were off duty they rolled them up to the knees.

On an innocuous note, it’s symbolic of “gettin’ a leg up.” Another connotation is the “I’m packing heat” notion UWMite noted.

On an unrelated note: over here in England, whenever I’ve had one pant (excuse me, “trouser”) leg pulled up [to cool off when exercising], people have asked if I was a Freemason. Apparently that’s something that new Masons have to do during initiation, and some Brits I’ve encountered take it seriously – I thought one guy was going to assault me for it.

On a more practical level, it often mean “I just rode my bicycle over here and didn’t want to get my pants tangled up in the gears.”

I was told that it was a symbol of unity between east coast and west coast rap – one of the coasts known for rolling both legs up, one for leaving both legs down. Of course, I was told this by non-black students while attending a middle-class high school of 3500 students, of whom maybe 20 were black, so take it with a pillar of salt.

I’m pretty sure I heard some musician say it had to do with being on a chain gang, either in prison or as a slave (the pant leg rolled up is the one that is attached). Of course, even if that is how it began, I’m not really sure it means anything if nobody knows why they’re doing it.

Wannabe gangsters are 90% of our problems in the amusement park I work at. I say wannabe because most of the serious gang types are not so flamboyant. Guys with multiple warrants don’t go around attracting attention to themselves. They don’t want to get taken down by some park security types and ending up doing serious time for a warrant or illegal concealed carry over something like trying to pick a fight in the park over something stupid.

Sadly administration isn’t too far from correct, generally we look for patterns in clothing, a sleeve rolled up, a pants leg, hat twisted to one side or another, pro/collegiate team logos, etc. There is invariably a pattern to any group of “gang types” who want to be noticed.

Both of my pants legs are down I must have TWO weapons, no wonder the little gangsters stay clear of me :smiley:

We have quite a few serious gang types that are regular customers. 90% of the time they are “off duty” so to speak. They are out with their girlfriend and wanna play a few games or something and we have no problem with that. As corny as is sounds our park is kinda like a gang version of Babylon 5. We keep a tight watch on things and they respect the fact that we will leave them be as long as they don’t step out of line. They in turn get to do alot of networking with other gangs that would have a hard time just meeting up on the street. Many issues get resolved betwwen gangs without violence because they have this place to meet up and talk. Its nowhere near as formal or diplomatic as it sounds but its pretty common.

Most of my contact is asian gangs they really don’t have much history to connect with that origin but the pants still get rolled.

They wear them like that because they grow old…

Hee hee, I think of that line anytime I roll up my pant legs for biking.

I’ve also heard (probably in a thread here) that the practice came from Jamaica, where bicycling is much more common, and it was done for purely practical reasons. Then again, you’d think they’d just wear shorts there, being in the Caribbean and all. I’ve also heard a similar theory, only involving bike messengers, which I tend not to believe, as in my experience, bike messengers (at least here in Boston) are predominantly white, and not much involved with hip hop culture.

It’s a fad people.

Compare it to ducktails, pet rocks, rubiks cube. It will pass.

Yea, its “just a fad”.

Until one of them shows up to take your daughter out.


In Chicago (and I don’t know how true this is anymore) gangs were divided into two alliances: People and Folk. Think of it sort of as a National League and American League of Gangland.

People gangs were traditionally associated with the left side (rolled-up pant legs, earrings in the left ear, that sort of stuff.) In Chicago, these gangs would be the Latin Kings, El Rukn (I don’t think they’re still around) , and the various -Lords (Vice Lords, Spanish Lords, Gaylords.)

Folk gangs were associated with the right side. These would be all the Disciples spinoffs (Gangsta Disciples, Latin Disciples, etc.) and Two Six to name the predominant ones around my area.

I don’t know whether these distinctions are national or a Chicago thing, but this was the case in Chicago in the 80s and early 90s at least.



It may be a “gang thing” in a few cases, but I’m sure if you surveyed most kids, they would say they roll up their pants let either because of the bike thing and/or because it’s cool.

The famous rapper/actor LL Cool J is rumored to have started this fad. As far as I know, LL Cool J is NOT affiliated with gang activity. He’s as mainstream as a rapper can get (second only to Queen Latifah).

When I was in high school, lots of kids would push their right pants leg up and I know they weren’t gang members or even wannabes. They were just regular kids doing what kids do: trying to be cool.

Just because it’s something a lot of young black guys do doesn’t it make it gang-related.

Speaking of young blacks and clothing, what’s the deal with them wearing women’s pantyhose on thier heads?

It may well be a “cool” thing, but in most cases (at least that I’ve observed), it is not a “bike” thing. The bike chain is on the right side of the bike. The left pant leg is usually the one that is rolled up (at least in this area).

If it were a bike thing, it wouldn’t make much sense to roll up the pant leg only on the side where the chain isn’t.

Here, in Newark, NJ, it’s always the right leg. And when I lived in Atlanta, it was the right leg too.


Are you talking about wave caps? They’re nylon scalp caps that create waves in your hair.