Home Music A survivor’s guide to mosh pits

A survivor’s guide to mosh pits

by Calvin Cashen March 15, 2016
A survivor’s guide to mosh pits

Follow these unwritten rules and you’ll have a great, mostly safe time

Your parents may know it as slam dancing, but nearly everyone knows what moshing is. Regardless of your position on this physical expression of enjoyment, moshing can draw a lot of negative backlash due its violent nature. That doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed freely and safely. There are rules to a mosh pit that you have to abide by to make sure concert attendees walk away with minimal damage.

Though their roots are firmly in punk and metal, mosh pits have found their way into nearly every kind of concert. Photo by Stephen L Harlow from Flickr.

Though their roots are firmly in punk and metal, mosh pits have found their way into nearly every kind of concert. Photo by Stephen L Harlow from Flickr.

Know protocol, even the unwritten laws of etiquette. Moshing is by no means a way to hurt someone. Moshing is about the release of pent-up aggression, and having a fun outlet to vent or celebrate the music being performed. The rules of carrying out a mosh pit are fairly self-explanatory, but they are commonly forgotten amidst the insanity.

If a fellow mosher falls, lift that person back up, check to make sure they are not hurt and continue to bump bodies. They will probably just laugh it off and thank you before joining back in or stepping out if they are hurt. This is the most essential rule of all and ensures the mosh pit is a mostly safe experience.

Moshing is a communal experience, a synergy formed between music and ambience that evokes reaction. Most importantly, moshing should be a ground of equal opportunity.

Don’t throw punches—it’s not a fight.

If you hurt someone it is common courtesy to shake their hand or tap their shoulder. Do a friendly gesture and apologize. Also bare in mind that if you incite a fight, you will be surrounded, greatly outnumbered and will be expelled from the venue accordingly.

Know what you’re getting into. Put the situation into perspective and subjectively recognize that you may get hurt, and you’re definitely going to get covered in sweat—a lot of sweat. Foreign substances, blood or otherwise, may make contact with your favorite merch T-shirt. While the prime purpose of a mosh pit is to make physical contact with the intention of having fun and not getting hurt, there is also a certain level of unpredictability present throughout. Much of the risk derives from the musical genres being played or represented. Alt-rock will be more relaxed, while metal and some punk will be rougher. Moshing is a punk rock staple after all. If you’re considering making your debut in a mosh pit, be aware of the potential consequences and make sure you’re physically and mentally capable because it is a demanding practice.

Wear the right outfit. Wear clothes that you don’t mind getting roughed up a great deal. Your outfit should also be comfortable, practical, and lightweight since it will get hot in the pit. Make sure your shoes fit tightly because if a shoe falls off, there’s little to no chance of getting it back and your unprotected foot will suffer as a result. Hi-tops are highly recommended, as those suckers won’t slip off even if you try.

Remove any spiked wristbands or other hazardous accessories, such as pocket knives or keys, as they could injure a fellow mosher. Avoid wearing anything that can be easily grabbed and yanked off, like an earring. Piercings may look edgy, but they will be a liability in the pit. Remember, mosh pits are a mostly no-holds-barred experience with a few minor, though important laws here and there.

Get ready to rumble. Whether deliberately in the mosh pit or not, you need to be prepared.

Don’t look like you’re ready to strike someone, but certainly don’t put yourself in a position where your hands are going to be stuck to your sides; you may accidentally get your face sucker punched by someone’s unsuspecting fist or foot.

Watch and observe. Don’t be afraid to take it easy. How brutal is the music and the individuals around this particular pit? Are people just casually moshing, or are they on the prowl for blood? Know the difference between those who are “slam dancing” and the jacked up jerks who are running around smashing people in the face with their knuckles. There are many different types of moshing that have adapted to modern times. To that extent, this is an important step if you want to enjoy it. You’re allowed to participate from afar by pushing people back to keep the natural sway of the pit going. There are going to be people flying back and forth, side to side, up and down and all over the place.

Do what you will with this information. Having fun is a matter of how you approach it. A proper mosh pit is an exhilarating way to unite as a collective and just let loose.

Related Articles