Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
This article is about the type of dance. For Eminem's song and music video see Mosh (song)
Moshing or slam dancing is a type of dance characterized by jumping around or pushing others to loud heavy metal or punk music. It enjoys wide popularity with young rock, punk 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, and jumping in a staccato fashion to the beat of the music. The contact with other dancers may range from reasonably gentle yet firm shoving to aggressively throwing one's body into other dancers.
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 frequently an area specifically set aside for the purpose of moshing or slam dancing.
Origins, History, and Varieties
The term "mosh" has often been attributed 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 first appeared in 1981, if not earlier, at punk rock concerts. The dance form later spread to the heavy metal scene, where head banging and crowd surfing were incorporated. By the time of the disastrous Woodstock 1999 music festival, moshing had degenerated in some circles into what amounted to a full-scale riot. To alleviate these problems, venues that expect moshing now typically provide crowd control, including having concert rules (see Rules of Moshing 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." One type was the slam dance itself, which is now referred to as moshing. However, there was also the "pogo", where dancers jumped up and down, as if on a pogo stick, and sometimes bumped into 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 suffice to win the endorsement. He then brought out another Keyes supporter 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.
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. The latter are often frowned upon by other dancers, however, especially if attempted at non-hardcore concerts. Another form of hardcore dancing involving 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 formulaic moshing.
Risks and Criticism
While most participants consider moshing innocent fun, it can be dangerous to people in and around the mosh pit, and minor injuries often occur. Serious injuries requiring emergency treatment and hospitalisation, while reasonably rare, are a definite risk 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, which the media confuses with death and destruction. In reality, supporters say, moshing is quite safe. Critics, in reply, note that the violence of the dance floor will inevitably lead to some injuries, which 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 its critics say it causes. However, it should be noted that even moshing's most ardent supporters agree that there is some physical risk associated with the activity, but usually compare it to the risks of any physically challenging sport.
Moshing in all of its forms can be dangerous, sweaty , and intensely physical. Therefore, certain practices are recommended by veterans of the mosh pit to help ensure that the experience is fun instead of unpleasant.
The best upper-body clothing for moshing is either a band t-shirt, 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 protective to the skin and light-weight.
If you plan to mosh you should only wear clothing that is expendable, as it may be ruined or missing by the end of your mosh pit session.
Sobriety and Hydration
It is very unwise to go into a mosh pit drunk. If the drunk dancer falls over and there are others in the pit who do not follow mosh pit etiquette (see Rules of Moshing below), injuries will 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, as it will definitely be needed for anything longer than 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 dancer to last longer in the pit.
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, however, as 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. They are:
- If someone falls over, stop moshing and immediately help the person get up.
- Remove any spike bands , joint rings , or similar jewelry before entering the pit if there is any danger of it injuring others.
- No groping or sexual assault is allowed in the pit (moshing is by no means a male-only activity).
- 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.
- 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 othewise. 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 in.
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