The joy of moshing

Since when was head-banging, slam-dancing and crowd-surfing at live gigs supposed to be safe?

Ray Crowley

Topics Politics

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Summer’s here, school’s out – and one argument is bound to be raging in homes throughout the country. ‘Mum, can I go to Glastonbury/OzzFest/Reading?’ ‘No.’ Stamp, scream, sulk.

Not surprisingly, parents don’t like to see their teenagers trotting off with sleeping bag, bog roll and a motley crue of unsuitable mates to brave the rain, mud and booze that is a music festival. And now there’s another worry to add to the list – the ‘mosh’.

Moshing is when you jump up and down to your favourite band and get crushed by hundreds of others doing the same – complete with pushing, barging, elbowing, head-banging, slam-dancing, and, of course, crowd-surfing. The perils of the ‘mosh pit’ – the bit in front of the stage where said moshing takes place – now strike more fear into the hearts of parents and festival organisers than boring old sex, drugs and alcohol.

It is not only the old folks who are concerned. Bands have been known to walk out halfway through their set because the mosh pit has become too dangerous. Debates rage in the letters pages of heavy metal mag Kerrang! about the evolution of ‘baby moshers’ – young teens who ignore the ‘mosh etiquette’ of picking somebody up when they fall under your boots rather than stomping on them. Even women’s weekly Bella has got in on the act, pointing out that while moshing ‘was once playful, a sinister undercurrent has developed’, and advising teen concert-goers that ‘if you are caught in a crush, quickly get to the edge of the crowd’.

True, there have been a handful of tragic accidents at concerts in recent years – but death or disfigurement by moshing is incredibly rare. And more to the point, since when was moshing supposed to be safe?

I’m sorry, but nobody is going to say ‘Pardon me’ if they bump into you while heavy metal band Pantera are going mental on stage. At that kind of gig, people will be wearing big boots and when they crowd-surf you’ll probably get a steel toe-cap in the ear. People will push to the front and you’ll get squashed and bruised. But that’s the point. It’s great fun queuing up for a concert and hearing kids boast about how ‘when I was at Korn I fell over and got fucking battered’, or ‘I crowd-surfed at Reading and loads of blokes felt my tits’.

If you’re after a 100-percent safe music experience, maybe you should try a Britney Spears or S Club 7 gig (but watch out for dope at the latter) – at a venue with safe seating and security guards who yell if you so much as rise up in your seat to fart. Even better, stay at home and listen to a CD. But if you’re a Marilyn Manson fan who wears a t-shirt saying ‘Jesus is a cunt’, you might just want something different.

As a concert-goer, I’ll have none of this ‘safe moshing’ nonsense. We should all jump up (and down) demanding the right to live a little dangerously. Long live the mosh pit – but just remember, ‘you have the choice to enter – but you may not have the choice to leave’.

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Topics Politics


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