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Mosh Pit Etiquette

Rambling 02 Mar 2012

On Wednesday night I was invited along by mate Leigh to the Soundwave sideshow for Bad Religion.

I knew very little about the band itself (growing up Christian I tended to avoid bands with a crossed out crucifix as their logo for some reason), except that they had been around for ages and some of their songs were featured in Crazy Taxi. Truth be told I know very little about punk rock in general having always leant more in the trance/techno direction. Sure, I’ve been to a bunch of music festivals, but even they couldn’t prepare me for the mosh pit at a Bad Religion gig.

I’ve always associated mosh pits with violence, aggression, ripped t-shirts and blood noses, all of which I found out to be true. What I didn’t realise is no-one holds any malice; none of the people there are actually looking to hurt anyone. It was one of the most cathartic experiences I’d ever had, and by the end I felt like I’d learnt a few of the general rules of mosh pit etiquette.

1. Push, shove, grab – but don’t swing.

Making physical contact with others in a mosh pit isn’t just incidental, its encouraged to the point where people seek it out. The guy thrashing to your left, you are completely justified in grabbing him by the shirt and pushing him into the middle of the crowd as hard as you can. This kind of movement requires a certain amount of momentum build up first; just make sure you’re not swinging your arms around in a punching fashion, or you might actually hurt someone.

2. Picking up the slack.

You will fall over. There’s no way to avoid it, at some point you’ll trip over and find yourself in the most dangerous position of all – lying down in a mosh pit. What I witnessed whenever I saw this happen however was the best example of the attitude of the moshers (moshee’s?) – anyone surrounding that person would immediately grab an appendage and pick that person back up, make sure they’re ok with a pat on the back, and then shove them as hard as they can.

3. There will be blood.

Or there may not be. There was for me, a misplaced elbow clocked me right in the nose, which made my face all numb and red stuff dribble out of it for a time. Think of it like a tame version of Fight Club, and try not to get it on anyone else.

4. Don’t go easy on me, I’m a girl.

I expected testosterone filled skinheads and shirtless tattooed nutjobs, what I didn’t expect to see in a mosh pit were girls. Generally there are more parts to a girl that tend to be off limits unless you’ve already bought her dinner, but in a mosh pit it can be kind of hard to avoid. This is a trap, as soon as you start thinking these thoughts you’ll find yourself getting shoulder barged by the very girl you were so concerned about touching a second ago. Gender is irrelevant in the eyes of the almighty mosh.

5. Smile.

The most important rule, anything goes in a mosh pit, but smile when you’re doing it. The first time I was violently pushed, I turned to face my attacker and found him smiling and yelling at me. Not in a mocking or insulting way, more if we were friends that had just shared an awesome bonding moment. Which is when I realised that’s exactly what had happened.

So I pushed him right back.

And smiled.

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  1. Yug
    March 2, 2012 at 2:12 am

    Anyone got more that I should have added?

    • Abidur
      April 14, 2012 at 9:47 am

      You have to stay in your seat. To get onto the floor where the mosh pit is, they check your tickets to make sure you are oppussed to be there, and sometimes give you a wristband or mark your hand

  2. Kingsley
    March 2, 2012 at 2:44 am

    Don’t grab the chicks, you didn’t accidentally grab her breasts or arse or tear her top or grab her while she is crowd surfing.

    Saying this if you do you might find that the girl has a lot of friends in the scene, most of them who don’t like seeing chicks get grabbed. The will however be more then happy to grab you and treat you like part of the floor in a pit.

  3. Tsunami
    March 2, 2012 at 6:45 am

    Don’t stand near the mosh pit with alcohol unless you want it to end up on the floor rather than in your bloodstream! Sounds like a common sense rule but you’d be surprised how many people fail to abide by this logic.

    Also, the bigger/harder/more violent the mosh pit, the more fun you’ll have. Particularly if you already have that alcohol in your bloodstream. :-)

    • Darren
      April 14, 2012 at 7:57 am

      The majority of poplee at gigs (of the ones I’ve been to anyway) are pretty cool moshing. 90% if you fall over, someone will try to pick you up. Hardcore gigs have a great atmosphere, I wouldn’t worry about it to much. Enjoy your first gig

  4. Catfish
    March 2, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Don’t wear glasses.
    Last Bad Religion mosh I was in, my glasses came off. Cue me frantically searching on the ground for them while quite close to the front and everyone is jumping around me!

    Pretty much the only rule I can think of is ‘don’t be a dick’ and you’re fine. :D

  5. Matt Ford
    March 3, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    I learned a lot about mosh pitting at a Gwar concern in San Francisco. Keep an eye on the stage or else someone will gut a huge space worm and you will get soaked in green blood, making you scare everyone on the train ride home.

    That’s really true about getting picked up when you are down. It’s an awesome feeling when that happens, and when you pick up someone else.

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