Those who have been to a punk, metal or hardcore show before know what they are getting themselves into. When the music on stage is accelerating, so is everything else around it. Welcome to the moshpit! The ultimate place to exhibit passion for loud and brutal music. Here, music and rhythm are used as a projection platform for aggression which finds expression in wild, artistic movements. The pit is a dynamic space that arises from the movements of the densely packed concert audience and is constantly being reshaped by coexistence and conflict. It is an integral part of the subculture where headbanging, crowdsurfing and aggressive or even violent dancing is not just permitted, but expected.
Moshing, slam dancing or violent dancing are closely linked to the emerging punk scene of the late 1970s. Back then bands like Dead Kennedys or Black Flag started challenging the music industry establishment with simple song structures, distorted guitars and extremely fast pace. The provocative lyrics of their songs were aimed at social constraints and conservative politics. Their audience, mostly teenagers, responded by developing a matching form of dancing. Much like the music, their dancing style was equally rebellious, attacking any form of structure and order. In the mosh pit universal social behavior is not merely suspended but smashed mercilessly.
A new order
However, a mosh pit is much more than just an indefinable mess. In fact it is a room full of binding rules and limitations. Out of the chaos a new social order coalesces, which includes ethical standards and codes of conduct. Although it will always remain a room full of expression of individuality, community is an essential, if not the most important aspect. The place of seemingly extreme freedom is regulated by an unambiguous code. It states: „you must pick up a falling mosher at all times“ „do not persist on your territory“ and especially „respect the other“. This creates a social order or even a new sense of justice where violations are punished by attentive co-moshers.
It has been a long time since the mosh pit was just a place for one specific group. Even if it is just for a short period of time, people from different backgrounds, age and sex cross paths in the pit. They take part in this ritual again and again. Joining in to free themselves from the frustration and stress of the daily grind. Once the music stops, they all return to their ordinary lives. What remains is the memory of a brief but intense feeling of freedom and belonging. Both at the same time.