Mosh-pit etiquette: stay upright and not uptight

Bustling concerts are good way to let off steam set to your favourite music, but be sure to be mindful of others

You walk into Metropolis, Les Katacombes, Foufounes Électriques, or your favorite music bar. The air is hot, the smell of stale beer somehow permanently lingers, and the loud metal music is blaring. You run to the front and, quickly, you find yourself facing a crowd of people pushing and shoving each other. Welcome to the mosh-pit.

We welcome all kinds in the mosh-pit. You may stand on the outskirts, just pushing people away. You may also be in the fray, getting shoved, shoving back, running around and getting sweaty. We even welcome people from above: the crowd-surfers and the stage divers. Never fear, we are all here because we have some extra energy to expend by giving it to our favourite bands. It goes without saying, though, that what may seem chaotic, to an outsider looking in, is a controlled chaos that some of us have been a part of for many years now. And to every dance, there are unwritten rules that we all abide by.

In the voice of Tyler Durden, the first rule of the mosh-pit is: you are here to have fun. The second rule of the mosh-pit is: you are here to have fun! The point of a mosh-pit is to provide a (relatively) safe space to proactively release your excess energy, pent-up angst and anger. But remember, you have to be mindful of others. It’s okay to push; it’s okay to shove; you will fall, you will knock someone down, and all of that is just fine. But please, be careful not to hit someone in the face by accident, and be mindful if someone falls.

When someone falls, be it a stage diver, a crowd surfer, or a mosher, people are very quick to react, to pick them up and check if they are okay. If the person is in good spirits and unharmed, it would be a faux-pas not to oblige them by shoving them back into the pit from whence they came.

For those standing in the crowds, keep an eye on your surroundings as well, as crowd surfers will sometimes fly overhead. If that does happen, catch them, keep the wave going and always remember that it could be you up there. To the crowd surfers, be aware of the shoes you wear. Big boots, heavy chains, spikes, or anything else that could somehow hurt someone should be left with friends while you surf, dive or mosh.

At some shows, you will see stage divers. They will literally jump off the stage into the crowd. This is where it gets dangerous, and comes with a “dive at your own risk” warning label, because people may not catch you, and it is very easy to hit someone inadvertently.

More importantly, remember that gender stereotypes are left at the door. Everyone is equal and everyone is there to have fun. Still be mindful that when someone crowd surfs, avoid groping. That is harassment.

Finally, what makes moshing dangerous for everyone is when people start doing the ninja dance by flailing their limbs around everywhere. That’s simply unacceptable. Somebody is bound to get hurt.

At the end of the night, if you walk away sweaty, smelly and disgusting, with the feeling that you had the time of your life, then the mosh-pit has served its purpose.


A tip from the service industry: be kind, unwind

From yelling to tipping, remember your resto etiquette

We all have a story about annoying or hopeless restaurant service. From lack of service to just straight-up bad food, there are a whole lot of things that can go wrong when you try to have a good time out.

In those dreadful moments, people are often awfully quick about releasing their wrath on the head of the server. Now, have you ever put yourself in this person’s shoes?

It may seem simple—and somewhat innocent—to ask people to use a bit of empathy when going to restaurants. However, there are numerous things we may or may not realize when tasting a not-so-delicious crème brulé.

As with anyone in any work environment, restaurant employees are sometimes stressed out, overworked and in a rush. It may not only be the food service industry and it is true that nobody’s life is likely to be on the line, but you’d be surprised at the pressure put upon the shoulders of most restaurant employees.

That does not mean that rude behavior is justified.  And it is true that working with the public means accepting the unpredictability of our fellow demanding humans.

Still, when asking for more ice in your drink, an extra napkin or their opinion on the current weather, it is necessary to realize how this person may not be able to satisfy your demands in a split second. As a customer, it is important to get that we are rarely the one and only client asking for our server’s attention.

Also, yelling at the person serving you a plate a food will not necessarily correct every wrong that you had to suffer through. Yes, you are the paying customer and yes, you are entitled to decent service. However, this person dressed as a penguin is not to be considered your personal butler. It may sound stupid, but servers are people too.

Another hot topic is tipping. Some people have the habit of leaving no tip when experiencing a bad moment in a restaurant. Showing your discontent is in your rights, but by leaving nothing on the table, you are punishing those restaurant employees much more than you would think.

Talking about the specific situation of Quebec, the tip is often split between the whole staff. Did you notice the young busboy running to get you a clean plate? Or the barmaid having to produce the drinks of a fully-packed, thirsty restaurant? Even the kitchen often gets a share of the tip of some establishments.

Also, by leaving no tip, you’re actually making your waiter pay for serving you. It is a rarely-known facet of the tip system, but the government asks waiters to declare a minimum of 8 per cent of the employee sales. So, following this rule, a waiter that would receive no tip whatsoever would have to pay 8 per cent of what he sold to his customers. Does it seem right to you that someone serving you ends up paying to do so? It does not mean that you should be happy and complacent with any bad restaurant employees you meet; it just means that 8 per cent should become the new norm for minimum tipping, especially when it means simply putting one more loonie or two on the table.

In the end, in restaurants as well as in life in general, putting ourselves in another person’s shoes always helps.


Watching it happen through a lens

Graphic by Jennifer Kwan.

Concerts. If you’re like me, you know the feeling of sheer excitement and euphoria felt at a really good show.

The unbearable heat, the screams that break sound barriers, the vibrating wood floors, and…the constant glow of smartphone screens.

I’ve been going to concerts since I was six. In fact, my first concert as a six -year-old was at the Metropolis.

I can still remember my sister sneaking in our camera in my Lion King purse. She wanted to take a few pictures, and she chose her shots wisely because we were using a Flintstone disposable camera.

With smartphones like the iPhone, HTC, and Samsung Galaxy sporting eight megapixel cameras and full HD video, the possibilities are endless. It also means everyone feels the need to act as paparazzi at concerts. It’s a given. Every concert I have been to in the past two years, be it a small or large venue, smartphones and other popular ‘intelligent devices’ with not so intelligent users are part of the lighting display.

There are people who hold them way up in the air, and if you are plagued with the issue of being a four-foot-tall 19-year-old like myself, then you’re the one watching the concert through 50 different little LCD screens. Charming.

I totally understand the desire to grab a few shots, maybe even a few minutes of video of your favourite song. However, holding up your device throughout the whole show is excessive. Essentially, you are paying for a ticket to watch your favourite artist through a screen when they are literally three feet away from you.

“It can be a little annoying if it is a visual spectacle,” said Hare Patel, a Concordia English & history student. However, he said he believes that if someone bought their ticket, they have the right to do what they please.

What I don’t understand is that most of the time you aren’t even getting a good shot. Face it; your videos are a hot mess on playback because you were flailing all over the place when filming, and you surely caught the soprano singer in the background screeching all the wrong lyrics.

“The picture quality is awful,” said Sandrine Fafard, a communications student at Concordia. “But at the same time I want to share it!”

In addition to the need to be the modern day Warhol, instagramming their hearts away, people feel the need to live tweet their experience.

You need to be there to understand the excitement. Your twitter followers aren’t, and if you are focussed on tweeting, you actually aren’t either.

People constantly feel the need to capture the moment, trap the memory inside their tiny microchip, and keep it forever. We don’t want to let go of anything for fear of never being able to feel it again. What we don’t realize is that in doing so, we are actually missing out on the moment. Believe me, put that camera or phone down and let the music engulf you, laugh and sing along with hundreds of strangers. That feeling is more powerful than any flash or recording device on the planet.

Interestingly, Fafard is more annoyed with the use of phone screens instead of lighters.
“If you want to rock it, rock it for real,” she said.

On the one hand, part of me is glad phone screens have replaced lighters at concerts as I don’t really trust the human population with that much fire in a closed venue. But on the other, if it means getting rid of endless picture and video-taking at concerts, I’ll take the lighters any day.


Public transetiquette

As a person who is vertically challenged, I often find myself in the armpit of society. I mean this literally, not figuratively.

Due to global warming, traffic, economy, and a variety of other reasons, more and more people have been opting to get from point A to point B using Montreal’s public transit system, currently in its 151st year of existence. Although it has been around for a long time, the number of people riding trains and buses in Montreal is greater than ever, according to the Société du Transport de Montréal. Last year, the ridership hit 404.8 million, a 4.2 per cent increase from the year prior.

In the past few months we’ve seen a lot of media attention given to the city’s public transit workers and their customer relations – but what about our own civility? It seems almost every regular public transit user has a story about etiquette.

“One time when I was standing on the bus, there was a guy next to me who was also standing,” said Chana Myschkowski, a third-year therapeutic recreation student at Concordia University. “A lady was getting off the bus, and as she got off, she dropped something on the ground. As she bent down to pick it up, the guy grabbed her butt and then just got off the bus. It was really weird.”

Alexandra Huard Nicholls, who just began her first year of human relations studies at the university, was recently riding a crowded bus when a woman boarded with a stroller. Naturally, she presumed that there was a child inside. Instead, she had to do a double take. “It was a little dog in the stroller. She was blocking the whole aisle of the bus, and everyone was looking at her like, ‘Are you serious? You really bring your dog around in a stroller?’ It was ridiculous.”

Although these specific incidences are isolated events, other riders have shared feelings about the lack of etiquette on public transit.

Not long ago, CBC News posted the results of a poll listing the top 10 public transit etiquette rules where the number one rule was “When a parent with a small child, a pregnant woman, and elderly person, or someone with a physical disability is boarding, give up your seat!” Other notable behaviours that made the list include covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze, minimizing conversational obscenities, and not sitting beside someone else if a free seat is available.

The STM has taken notice, too.

“We use public awareness campaigns to remind people that they have to be polite,” said Marianne Rouette, an STM spokesperson.  There are postings in the metro and on buses that remind people of things they can do to make transport a better experience for everyone, such as carrying a backpack in your hands, rather than on your back, which can be dangerous for other passengers, especially when metro cars and buses are full of people.

“We analyze the situation, and then we prioritize,” said Rouette. “We like to keep our awareness campaigns positive.”

This summer I was riding at the back of the 162 bus going down Monkland Avenue when an elderly woman with a walker boarded the bus. She walked halfway through the bus before a boy of no more than eight-years-old got up to offer her his seat. Maybe we should all learn from this kid and have a little bit more awareness when it comes to “public transetiquette.”

Graphic by Jennifer Kwan.

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