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Mosh Pits the Pros and Cons

I believe the cons of pits are obvious: someone’s going to get hurt, and it sucks when you’re standing too close and don’t want to get involved. Plus, at a lot of venues, the bouncers will try to stop you, or even go so far as to kick you out for being in the pit. And all because they don’t understand what’s really going on.

Kid Rock (I know, I know) said it best when he said “Get in the pit and try to love someone.” It’s love. You’re in there pushing and shoving each other around, kicking and punching in many cases. If anyone falls, you pick them up. You look out for each other – “That’s what you’re here to do: help each other out,” Tom Araya of Slayer told the audience on the album Decade of Aggression: Live when telling the audience members to watch out for one another in the pit. You’re not there to seriously hurt anyone, though a little blood and a lot of bruises are definitely welcome.

The mosh pit is an integral part of hard rock culture, from punk rock to heavy metal. I remember seeing Down at Ozzfest one year, and it was like the year of stoners or something. It seemed everyone was smoking marijuana at the show. Even Phil Anselmo was smoking on stage and asking the audience to donate to the cause, which several gladly did. The audience was so collectively high that there really wasn’t a pit. When the band launched into their last song, Anselmo stopped the music and told the crowd that he understood everyone was stoned and feeling good but if he didn’t see a pit going when the song started back up, they would quit playing and walk off stage. Sure enough, when the music began again, the feet and fists started flying.

We watch animals on TV play rough and fight just for the exercise of it, and we’re fine with that. Well, here’s a news flash. That’s what’s going on in the pit. It’s tribal. It’s primal. We’re connecting to each other and to something that’s lost in our every day lives of luxury and civility. Real fights usually aren’t tolerated for long, and anyone who’s trying to start trouble usually gets shut down pretty quickly. Again, it’s not about that sort of thing.

There are many different styles of moshing, from circle pits (classic metal style, where you stomp around in a circle, occasionally letting the pit close in on itself in an utter blur of violence) to slam dancing (more of a punk style, where the art of moshing is combined with a furious dancing style, still centered on flying fists and feet). If you’re not afraid of a little pain, a few flying fists, and that bald dude who is three or four times your size, you can have a lot of fun in the pit. And you’ll be surprised how good you’ll feel after a good pit, no matter how badly you get beaten.