I’m just over five foot high, weigh around 93 pounds and can’t open bottles. Yet, I feel the need to throw myself into death metal mosh pits. It has something to do with the rush of adrenaline, the loud music and the testosterone in the air.
Over the years I have learnt what works and what doesn’t in mosh etiquette and I’ve seen many getting buried alive.
So without further ado, six simple tricks to handle your own and come out alive.
1. Dress for the occasion: Get a pair of comfy pants that have zippered pockets. Put everything in said pockets so that it stays safe while you’re crowd surfing etc. Girls, don’t ever wear a short skirt or dress unless you want strange hands getting “misplaced”. Wear closed in, preferably hard-covered shoes. Tie your shoelaces very, very tight. There’s always a solo shoe at the end of every good mosh, don’t make it yours. Wear a singlet a.k.a wife beater. If you’re wearing an oversized shirt or long sleeves, it will get heavy and smelly quickly and will take forever to dry off everyone’s accumulated sweat. Gross but true. If you’re wearing something sleeveless and light, you’ll stay relatively cool and you’ll slide more easily through crowds. No one said this was pretty.
Don’t wear jewelery unless you want to loose it. I speak from experience here.
2. Getting in: A mosh pit is like Dante’s circles of hell, except there’s only four levels. The first one is the relaxed people at the back. You’ll recognise them by their stance; arms crossed, shoulders straight and head slightly nodding. There are gaps between them so you can easily walk past. Then there’s the dancers, swining their arms in circles, crawling on the floor and thoroughly off their heads. It can require some manoevering to get past them because of their erratic behaviour. After that is the slightly packed crowd that can’t decide if they want to mosh or stand. At this point you can start pushing past people to get to the front. Smile, this helps. We’re at the mosh now. Jump, scream, headbang, make friends and feel the love. About two rows to the front it gets extremelly packed and you’ll get squeezed so tight you could lose your virginity and not realise it.
3. Brace yourself: Bring your arms up to your boobies or man pecs. This will help you breathe. Being in the pit is like swimming in the ocean; there are waves and you’ve got to learn to ride them. You will get squished into the person ahead of you and then there’ll be a lull. During this break push against the backs of other people using your arms and breath in deep. Ah. That’s better.
4. Wtf is a Circle Pit? A circle pit is when a big hole opens up in the middle of the mosh. Instead of just jumping up and down and headbanging in rows, the circle allows you to kick around, throw arms and collide into other people. It normally moves in an anti-clockwise direction and is a lot more aggressive than the normal mosh. Anything goes. It’s male-dominated so guys don’t know what to do when a female is in there. They’d either push you around like the others or try to protect you. It’s an odd balance for them compared to society norms, I suppose. If you have no idea what a circle pit is, watch Devil Driver’s Mosh Extravaganza. In really hardcore mosh pits, the band can direct you to perform a Wall of Death. Lamb of God, one of my fave bands, does this all the time. Turn the volume down on this and 50 seconds in, you can watch the money shot.
5. Favourite songs: If a song is released as a single, it’s going to be popular. What this means for you in the pit is that there’ll be a huge wave of people rushing towards the front. Anticipate this extra squish and either enjoy it or jump out of the way.
6. Getting out: You came, you saw, you jumped and now you’re tired. There are two ways to get out of the mosh pit depending on how badly you want out. If you’re claustrophobic, alert the people around you that you’d like to leave by pointing upwards. This is a universal code. They’ll lift you up and you can crowd surf your way to the front. This gives you boasting points afterward. Alternatively, turn away from the stage and point backwards. People will make room for you asap so they can get your position. This is a good technique if you’re taking a break.
If I missed any pointers, please leave a comment.