Jumping In - Overcoming Moshing Anxieties
“OPEN IT UP” the singer screams on stage as they spin their finger in a circular motion. The crowd is sent into a fit of movement, each individual being pounded back step by step closer to the wall, the middle of the room becoming occupied by a large empty circle. People are pushing, stepping on one another's toes and frantically moving backwards; some appear terrified, while others have a crazed look in their eye and smile plastered on their face.
At a metal or pop punk show moshing is inevitable. Some thrive in it, releasing anger and enjoying the intimate atmosphere, while others become frightened and fear for their safety. I have felt both of these things and am here to help you move from one stage to the other, whether that means you will participate in the mosh pit or simply view it from a different perspective by the end of this article. This article will examine the factors that go into the intensity of a mosh pit, the importance of moshing in our society and tips for those wanting to enter the pit.
What is Moshing?
To begin, let’s break down the terms at use. “Moshing” refers to the act of shoving, jumping and other forms of bodily contact that take place (most usually inhabited by a sea of sweaty men). The “mosh pit”, or “pit”, refers specifically to the bounds by which any moshing is taking place and its inhabitants. At any given time there can be several mosh pits, but there is normally one big main one located in the middle of the crowd near the front of the stage.
Genres and Moshing
The extent of how big and hardcore the moshing will be varies depending on the artist or genre at hand and in general, the heavier the music is the more intense the moshing will be. At pop punk shows, the majority of the mosh pit is made up of jumping and shoving, whereas metal shows elicit a more intense pit consisting of hard shoving, circle pits and walls of death. These can be seen at pop punk concerts as well, but occur more often at metal shows, where the heavy music encourages a more extreme environment. The nature of metal music encourages participants to move around in harmony with the beat and causes a faster, more forceful approach to movement. Whether it be head banging or moshing, whatever action the participant is engaging in will be
one of intensity.
Location, Location, Location...
Where you locate yourself inside the venue also plays a role in your experience with the mosh pit. As previously stated, the majority of moshing occurs near the front of the stage in the middle of the crowd. So, when you place yourself inside a concert venue, be weary of your location in terms of how you want to experience the show. Directly at the front of the stage along the barricade you may experience people crowd surfing over you and moshing behind you, whereas if you place yourself directly behind the mosh pit you will act as a sort of wall where you push people back into the pit to keep it contained. If neither of these options (or being in the pit!) amuse you, then your best course of action would be to stand near the back of the room where you are far away from the pit. Whatever you may choose, I suggest keeping a steady stance, bracing for any possible impact that may come from those who are moshing. This will prevent you from falling in case you are pushed!
Although moshing is intimidating, it should not be feared. It is true that participants can get injured, but it is overall a safe environment. In my experience over the years, I have witnessed few injuries in contrast to the rest of the participants coming out of the pit unscuffed. The number one rule while moshing is to be safe, so, if someone is down or injured, the pit will immediately attend to them and ensure their well-being. I will admit, I have fallen a few times inside the pit and as the wall, but in none of these cases I felt as if my safety was in question since I could count on those around me to come to my aid. After all, while injuries can come from moshing, that is part of its charm.
The Cultural Intimacy of Moshing
This brings upon the more philosophical and sociological part of this article where I state that moshing is a necessary action in our society as it is a cultural, intimate and passionate act. Through history moshing has been prevalent throughout the metal and pop punk genres and has provided fans with an outlet to release tension and make connections. Disregarding moshing and viewing it as an angry, harmful and a negative part of this genre would mean to also disregard its historic and cultural values. Moshing provides an intimate action within an extremely intimate environment, where people are not only physically touching one another, but also impacting their emotional experience. Everyone is brought together despite their differences and bound through the love of music and the moshing associated with it. This brings together the metal/pop punk community and creates a safe space for people to feel comfortable and allows them to be vulnerable. While moshing, there is a chance that you may get injured, but you put your trust in your community to pick you up and look out for you, creating strong bonds, whether they last a lifetime or for the 5 seconds as you embrace one another’s shoves.
Beginner Moshing Tips
For all of you out there who want to enter the mosh pit but are too frightened, my advice would be to start small. This can be as simple as being the wall at a few shows, giving you the ability to be around the pit without being directly in it. After being comfortable with this, you can attempt to enter pits at small shows or places like Sneaky Dee’s (for all the pop punk lovers out there, they have an emo night every Friday, mosh pit included!). Engaging in smaller pits will eventually build up your confidence to enter bigger, faster and more brutal ones, or, maybe not! There is a chance you enjoy standing at the back of the venue, being a wall or engaging in smaller pits, the only way to know for sure is by trying different things.
Through the exploration of the factors that go into the intensity of a mosh pit, the importance of moshing in our society and tips for those wanting to enter the pit I hope to bring comfort to concert attendees who are anxious about mosh pits. In the end, no matter what role you occupy at a concert, it is important to have fun. Do whatever you feel comfortable doing and take precautions while doing so, whether that be partaking in the mosh pit or not.