“What once began as a cluster of people vigorously bouncing around and head-banging, has quickly found its way of evolving into a full-scale warzone atmosphere at times, and more and more people seem to be leaving these mosh pits with bruises, sore limbs, and even broken bones as a result.”
You might recognize this sentence from a recent editorial by EDM.com on moshing, and why it should be banned from EDM. To be honest, I almost agree with them. Moshing leads to broken bones, fights at shows, and a lot of discomfort for those surrounding the pit. Wait a second… that’s not moshing, that’s a brawl.
Moshing, as most EDM fans know it, is pretty much exactly as I’ve described above – a lawless pit of jacked up bros swinging their elbows and ramming into each other with the intention of inflicting the most pain or damage as possible. I’ve been personally knocked out from a mosh pit, and I know friends whose noses have been broken, and whose clothes have been ripped, so I can completely empathize with the idea that moshing is bad, or that it should be removed from events entirely. However, when moshing first entered the music scene in Southern California in the early 1980s, it couldn’t have been more different. And if you’ve never been in a pit at a non-EDM event, I couldn’t blame you for being unaware.
Punk fans know what it means to truly mosh – it means shoving and not hitting; it means when someone falls down, everything stops to pick them back up; it means if someone is tying their shoe at the border, you form a barrier around them to keep them safe. Real pits aren’t about inflicting pain. They are a true exercise in community values and trust. One of my fondest memories in a pit was at a Flogging Molly show, an Irish punk rock band. The pit was filled with large, burly men who could easily pick me up and throw me if they wanted to. Instead, what I saw were great big smiles and consideration for those in the pit (i.e., when girls entered the pit, the guys became significantly less rough). When you think about it, mosh pits, when done correctly, reflect everything that EDM is supposed to be about, namely having fun at a show and making friends in the process. You can look at this handy guide on how to mosh properly.
We’ve already seen with kandi that banning is obviously not the best answer. It only serves to create a schism between those who support moshing and those who don’t, but both of these groups still love EDM. I agree that at many events, people have begun to take it too far. But, let’s look at this objectively — they are not moshing, they are brawling. Saying that moshing should be banned when you don’t really know the real meaning behind it is very much jumping the gun. But, I also feel that mosh pits have an appropriate time and place.
I mostly go to bass shows (drum & bass, dubstep, a little bit of trap) and pits are the norm there. And there are actually tracks that are coming out that apparently condone pits, but they’re all bass music. You’ll never see a house or trance track condoning pits because they are not present at those shows, and they shouldn’t be. They are not the place for such aggressive dancing. However, the energy and aggression so inherently present in bass music calls for a different way of dancing and expression. If you go to a bass show and complain about pits, well, you should know what you were getting yourself into. Likewise, if you go to a Dash Berlin show and try to start a pit, you’re probably a huge asshole.
Getting back to the point at hand, moshing, as EDM fans know it, is an issue that needs to be dealt with. “Warped Tour placed a ban on crowd surfing and mosh pits [and] Dillon Francis also notably cut his sound mid-set due to a growing mosh-turned-fight at his performance in Baltimore this past June.” I’ve seen Andy C do the same thing in Santa Ana. When you think about it though, mosh pits are as much a form of expression and dance as shuffling or jumping. It can be done safely, and that is what needs to emphasized. The punk kids could even give us a lesson or two.