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Mosh

From Academic Kids

This article is about the type of dance. For Eminem's song and music video see Mosh (song). For the professional wrestler, see Charles Warrington.

Moshing or slam dancing is a type of dance characterized by jumping around and or pushing others to loud heavy metal or punk music. Moshing is popular with young rock, punk, screamo, and metal fans, especially heavy metal and nu metal fans.

Slam dancing is a closely related form of dancing characterized by its aggressive nature: the movements consist of violent contact with other dancers, swinging the arms and legs,kicking and punching into the air and jumping in a staccato fashion to the beat of the music. Stage diving and crowd surfing are another form of moshing. The contact with other dancers may range from reasonably gentle yet firm shoving to aggressively pushing the person in front of you into someone else so it starts a chain reaction.

Both moshing and slam dancing are 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.

Contents

Origins, History, and Varieties

Origins

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."

History

Mosh pits first 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 1999 Woodstock 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 (see Moshing Tips below), removing problem-causing audience members, and a "T-barricade" that separates the pit into two halves as well as from the band.

Originally, there were different types of "slam dancing." The slam dance itself, which is now referred to as moshing. Also, there was also the pogo dance, where dancers jumped up and down, as if on a pogo stick, and sometimes lean or jump onto each other.

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 Republican 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.

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 (http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/message/index.php?messageDate=2000-01-28).

Varieties

Moshing means different things within different genres of music. Moshing at hardcore punk performances is frequently different from moshing at grunge or metal performances. Typically, moshing at a hardcore show will be much faster and more formulaic than the style found at other kinds of shows. Certain types of moves are often seen in certain passages of music (for example the "two-step" for floor-tom breakdowns). Hardcore can also include people windmilling (rotating their arms in wide circles in time to the music), moves resembling aggressive breakdancing, and solitary martial arts maneuvers, which 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 called the "circle pit", in which people skank at running speed around the circumference of the pit.

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. The mosh pit at a metal show is normally much larger, as these shows tend to draw a larger crowd. Ska music or ska-core often attracts a type of slam dancing known as skank. The more obscure 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.

Risks and criticism

While most participants consider moshing innocent fun, it can be dangerous to people in and around the mosh pit. Sometimes minor injuries often occur. Serious injuries might require emergency treatment or hospitalisation, while reasonably rare, there are definite risks for those participating in moshing or approaching too close to the mosh pit.

Critics have charged slam dancing with inciting or condoning violence. Supporters argue that slam dancing can establish friendship and camaraderie. Supporters say that critics who report deaths or serious injuries in a mosh pits are actually talking about crowd surfing or stage diving. The supporters report that moshing is a completely different activity. The media confuses it with death and destruction, but in reality, supporters say, moshing is quite safe. Critics, in reply, note that the violence on the concert floor will inevitably lead to some injuries. These injuries can lead to an escalating cycle of retaliatory violence. Both positions are much disputed by the other side, and there tends to be some conflation between the actual dangers of moshing and the types of behavior which critics say it causes. However, it should be noted that even supporters of moshing's agree that there is some physical risk associated with the activity. Many supporters actually believe that is the point of moshing, that there is some basic desire to be bruised fulfilled by mosh pits. Furthermore, one can compare it to the risks of any physically challenging sport and draw what conclusions they may.

Moshing tips

Moshing in all of its forms can be dangerous, sweaty, and intensely physical. Certain practices are recommended by veterans of the mosh pit to help ensure that the experience is fun instead of painful.

Clothing

The best upper-body clothing for moshing is either a fishnet or no shirt at all. This will allow your skin to breathe and allow perspiration to evaporate easily. Band t-shirts are often considered optimal as they are well-balanced between being a protective shield to the skin and very light-weight. It is also recommended to wear strong boots or shoes, especially steel toe boots. This provides protection against being stepped on by heavier-set moshers, and it allows you to use the momentum of the heavy boots to move faster with less energy (albiet a very small amount of momentum). If you plan to mosh you should only wear clothing that is expendable, as more expensive clothing will get ruined and/or missing by the end of the show.

Sobriety and Hydration

It is very unwise to go into a mosh pit drunk. If a drunk mosher falls over and there are others in the pit who do not follow mosh pit etiquette (see Rules of Moshing below), injuries could result. Also, alcohol consumption can lead to more rapid dehydration. Instead of alcohol, it is a better idea to drink some water beforehand.

Water is the preferred drink of the mosh pit. One should drink a lot of it, when taking the briefest trip to the pit. There is nothing more uncomfortable than being in a crowd of people while dehydrated. Not only is it much harder to mosh, it is also physically dangerous. See dehydration.

It is a good idea to "prehydrate", or drink a bottle or two of water before the show starts. This will allow the mosher to last longer in the pit.

Caffeine

Drinking soda, iced tea, Red Bull (or any other guarana- or caffeine-based drink), is a often considered a good idea mid-show. One should not drink too much, these beverages can also be dehydrating and are typically expensive. However, the caffeine will help keep the mosher alert and active.

Rules of moshing

There are a set of almost universally respected rules that accompany moshing. At many venues, these rules are enforced by security personnel, however in some rare cases security aren't always surrounding the pit. Therefore, they have been reproduced in this article to preserve the common pit safety and fun value. The rules (or "guidelines") are as follows:

  1. If someone falls over, stop moshing and immediately help the person get up.
  2. Remove any spike bands, joint rings, or similar jewelry before entering the pit as these could result in serious injuries.
  3. No groping or sexual assault is allowed in the pit (moshing is by no means a male-only activity).
  4. 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. (note: if hardcore dancers begin to dance in the pit this rule is waivered, punch away!)
  5. If you are at the edge of the pit, you are assumed to have taken on the task of shielding those outside the pit from any persons whom might come flying out of it, voluntarily or otherwise. If such a person does not appear to be actively seeking a way out of the pit, it is general etiquette to push or throw them back into the pit.
  6. Make sure your mom stays out of the pit.

See also

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