Moshing is a type of dance characterized by jumping around and or pushing others to loud punk, hardcore, and heavy metal music. Moshing is popular with many, especially young, fans. Moshing is also gaining popularity in the Rap and Breakcore (a genre of extreme electronic dance music) scenes.
Moshing is typically done in a mosh pit or circle pit. Originally this was just a group of people typically directly in front of the stage who were engaged in this form of dancing. It is now more frequent that there are mosh or circle pits throughout the entire audience.
Mosh fashion relates to the music genre. Specifically, it began with wearing what one would wear to a concert where there would be a mosh pit.
Origins and History
The term "mosh" has often been credited to Vinnie Stigma of the hardcore group Agnostic Front as an acronym for "March Of Skin Heads", but most authorities cite Darryl Jennifer, bass guitarist for Bad Brains as the term's originator, from his Jamaican-accented pronunciation of the word "mash", in "Mash down Babylon."
Mosh pits (or Circle pits) appeared in 1981, if not earlier, at a number of punk rock concerts. The dance form later spread to the heavy metal music scene, where head banging and crowd surfing were incorporated. By the time of the Woodstock 1999 music festival, moshing had been described as a full-scale riot. To solve these problems, venues that expect moshing now typically provide crowd control, including having concert rules, removing problem-causing audience members, and a "T-barricade" that separates the pit into two halves as well as from the band.
Nirvana's successful video "Smells Like Teen Spirit" brought mosh pits to a wide mainstream audience in 1991.
In May 1996, the Smashing Pumpkins played a gig in The Point Depot in Dublin, Ireland. The venue was over-crowded and despite the band's repeated requests for moshing to stop, a 17-year-old fan from Cork, Bernadette O'Brien, was crushed to death. The concert ended early and the following night's performance in Belfast was cancelled out of respect for her. Corgan later said that he considered quitting show business for good after the event.
Michael Moore's The Awful Truth
In 2000, Michael Moore's The Awful Truth television show took a portable mosh pit across the United States to Iowa and challenged the candidates in the presidential primaries to dive into it. The premise was that the show would endorse any presidential hopeful crazy enough to do it. At one debate this mosh pit was called "the defining moment of the 2000 election" by New York Times columnist Gail Collins.
At a town hall event staged by Ronald Reagan's former ambassador to the United Nations' Economic and Social Council, Alan Keyes, aides went outside to investigate the commotion. When informed that Keyes could get the endorsement of "The Awful Truth with Michael Moore," Keyes' national field director dove into the pit, hoping that his actions would help win the endorsement. He then brought out another one of Keyes supporters, dressed as Uncle Sam, who also jumped in. Another supporter dressed as a shark jumped out off the stage onto a car, damaging it.
Alan Keyes, after several minutes of convincing by his daughter, dove into the mosh pit himself. He fell backwards into the screaming crowd of youths to the sound of Rage Against the Machine and surfed the crowd. After a couple of body slams with a young man from Ames High School, he left the pit with the show's endorsement.
Michael Moore said of the incident, "We knew Alan Keyes was insane. We just didn't know how insane until that moment." Details about this incident and the adventure of the portable mosh pit can be found on Mr. Moore's web site.
Types of Moshing
Moshing is a catch-all term for any dance performed in a mosh pit. Certain moves are seen with certain passages of music (for example the "two-step" for floor-tom breakdowns).
Moshing can be referred to by several different names, depending upon the subculture in which it is found: hardcore dancing, throwdown, mashing, or most simply, moshing. Slam dancing is characterized by its aggressive nature: the movements consist of violent contact with other dancers - pushing and shoving other dancers and body-slamming, or throwing your body into another dancer are the normal forms of slamdancing.
Moshing means different things within different genres of music:
Breakcore, a genre of extreme electronic dance music, attracts many ex-punkers
or metal heads and also their mosh-pits.
Grindcore also has its own style of dancing, often referred to as the grind (not to be confused with the highly sexual urban dance style), which resembles a blend of skanking and more of a slower mosh.
Metal performances tend to the have a much larger mosh pit as these shows draw a larger crowd. See also: Speed moshing. Speed pit is a mosh pit that happens during such bands when Iced Earth and Megadeth get up on stage. The faster the metal is, the crazier it will get.
Punk rock moshing generally involves aimless slamming into one another, the pogo (jumping up and down into other people, invented by Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols according to hearsay), and circle pitting, and is generally much less violent and dramatic than found at hardcore punk shows.
Hardcore: Hardcore dancing is much faster and formulaic. It also includes people windmilling (rotating their arms in wide circles in time to the music), moves resembling aggressive breakdancing, and solitary martial arts maneuvers. These are often frowned upon by other dancers, especially if attempted at a non-hardcore concert. Another form of hardcore dancing which involves the whole mosh pit is the circle pit, in which people skank at running speed around the circumference of the pit. It can include two-steps, windmills, and swinging the arms and legs violently.
Hip hop related
The Gangsta walk, originally called the "buck jump," is circling the dance floor as quick and wild as you possibly can. First commonly seen at rap shows in the Memphis, Tennessee area.
Skank slam dancing is now seen in ska or ska-core shows.
Risks, criticism and precautions
Most participants consider moshing fun, minor injuries can occur and there is a risk of serious injury.
Supporters of moshing agree that there is some physical risk associated with the activity. Supporters argue that slam dancing can establish friendship and camaraderie, that reports of death or serious injury relate to crowd surfing or stage diving, completely different activities.
Critics have charged slam dancing with inciting or condoning violence. Violence on the concert floor inevitably leads to some injuries. It is argued that an escalating cycle of violence can be observed. These charges are reflected in media reports.
To many, moshing is a kind of extreme sport. Many people in the pit do believe in stimulating friendship and camaraderie. Violence is usually directed against others in the pit, and often only escalates when it is badly received by someone who is outside or not used to the pit. The pit is meant to be fun.
There tends to be some conflation between the actual dangers of moshing and the types of behavior which critics say it causes.
There are definite risks for those participating in moshing or approaching too close to the mosh pit. Many supporters actually believe that the point of moshing is its physicality and that its risks can be compared to the risks of any physically challenging sport. Some suggest there is a desire to be bruised fulfilled by mosh pits, as a form of basic stress relief.
It may be suggested that moshing reflects a modern "rite-of-passage trial" where young people choose to test their courage and strength among friends and/or strangers in an unpredictable situation teetering on the edge of anarchy.
In many Western cultures, there are very few outlets for a youth's natural inclination toward violence and the moshpit is an excellent excuse to let off steam. As it is meant to be, it is a sort of battle between consenting adults, and outside the pit there is no battle, often good friendships are struck up between "true hardcores". Violence escalates mainly when this concept is misunderstood whether it is inside or outside the pit.
There are some basic precautions (rules) regarding moshing:
Clothing and footwear should be appropriate for the physicality of the mosh
Exposed body jewelry (piercings) may get snagged in the pit. Be sure to remove it for your own safety.
Inebriation (drunkeness) and dehydration pose real risks.
If someone falls over, stop moshing and immediately help the person get up. This is generally "pit etiquette".
Remove any spike bands and jackets, joint rings, or similar jewelry before entering the pit as these could result in serious injuries.
No groping or sexual assault.
Kicking and punching is generally regarded to be a breach of "pit etiquette", shoving or pushing with the forearms or elbows is preferred. This rule has an exception in hardcore pits.
Immobilizing people by grabbing their clothing is frowned upon.
People at the edge of the pit are assumed to willingly shield those outside the pit and to also keep the people inside from falling onto the ground. However this should not include shoving unwitting moshers as that may cause them to fall or shove back, usually much harder.
Do not wear glasses as they will most likely be smashed within five minutes.
If you have your glasses with you, a good way to keep them in one piece is to buy a bottle of Gatorade, drink it, and then push your glasses carefully into the bottle. The bottles are very hard and should protect glasses in your pocket. You will have to cut the top off of the bottle later to retreive your glasses.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The pit is just like anywhere else in that respect, except with considerably more latitude in what is acceptable.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
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