Moshing through life

A mosh pit at a hardcore concert is high energy zen. You enter the pit and become an atom: flowing in a stream of energy, colliding and rebounding like particles of a liquid creating a whirlpool or a convection current. You receive energy from the other people, and transfer your energy out toward them, until there is nothing but the “collective energy” swirling around in a vortex. You become one with the system.

Justin Pansacola writes in an article at Vitamin String Quartet:

Every other form of concert body movement requires some self-awareness, and for many people that leads to self-consciousness. It requires either knowledge or natural talent with coordinating the awkwardness of your body to rhythms, or decisions on how to move that best match up with everyone else. That’s always fun in its own way, but the beauty of the mosh pit is that the choice isn’t in your hands. You are simply swept along. For those who struggle with even a modicum of self-consciousness, or indecision about what to do with themselves at a show, the mosh pit is a savior. You surrender to it, and then you try to keep your shoes on. The specter of self-consciousness is powerful. You see it in their attempts to wiggle, the sudden evaporation of their nerve, and the way they look at everyone else while getting down. It’s not their fault. We all have our own terrifying social hang-ups. But the mosh pit is the equalizer that brings extroverts and introverts together. It’s a leveled playing field where we can all just enjoy the visceral sensation of a good beat, a thrashing guitar or a driving bass line.

But it is also very controversial, and very counter-culture. It is frowned upon by cultural conservatives for being too chaotic and hedonistic, and by cultural liberals for being too dangerous.

The best way I can describe the dialectic between those who “get” mosh pit culture and those who do not is to just present to you this discussion thread about the philosophy of moshing on Psych Central:

Paintingravens: I think there’s a philosophy to moshing… a concert is a place where tons of people gather to have a good time and release any of that stress that’s been building up throughout the week. We gather, we fling ourselves into each other, we may fall a couple of times but we pick each other back up, we may inflict a few good bruises on each other, but it’s done unintentionally and playfully (albeit, intensely playfully), and it’s all in the spirit of rocking out. I think moshing is symbolic of the ideal human connection. We gather together to share a similar experience. A concert is a place where we can throw ourselves into each other as hard as we can (release all that daily frustration), and we take it, we share it, we laugh about it. We knock each other down, but we help each other up; possibly analogous to sharing each others pains and problems and helping each other through them? To me, it seems that moshing brings people together. While moshing, no one gets pissed at the other because you accidentally got elbowed in the face, and no one tries to start a fight because you got punched in the gut (both blows I received during this concert…:P); you take it in stride and laugh about it.

Moreta: I don’t like moshers…..or people that crowd surf….since I usually position myself in the front row. I enjoy stepping out of the way so crowd surfers fall to the floor. I was at a Saliva concert one time, in the front row, and people were moshing behind me, and this huge dude slammed right into me, which led to having 3 bruised ribs from hitting the metal railing. Not fun.

Paintingravens: If you don’t like the mosh pit, perhaps in the future, you should consider finding a spot that is not directly in front of it. The mosh pit is not going to move out of the way for you.

TheByzantine:Oh? So before you buy a ticket you get a seating chart that designates mosh pit here? To think it is cool to trample and bruise those who thought they were going to a concert and not a rugby match is quite telling.

Paintingravens: The mosh pits generally start up in the same area (usually front-center area), and there’s not much one can do about it once they start. They gain momentum fast. And standing up in the very front is just asking to get pummeled by moshers… There are always other places to stand that are safe from the frantic blows of excited moshers.

TheByzantine: So what you are saying is that anyone who wants a front row sit is fair game to be bruised and battered?

Paintingravens: No, they’re not “fair game”. It’s not a hunting range. The people in the mosh pit are not targeting the unfortunate people in the front row. But if you make it to the front row and expect to be completely safe and bruise free by the end of the concert, then you are sorely mistaken. The mosh pit extends to the front row, and it’s filled with a bunch of people who are literally throwing themselves into each other. There is much pushing and shoving and flailing of limbs. Bruises happen in the front row. It’s just the way it is.

Lynn P.: Sounds like a good excuse to hurt someone with out getting arrested. I would be afraid of bullies and people going there for that purpose – “yeah lets go hurt someone”

Paintingravens: Lol, mostly everyone is there to have a good time. If someone every gets seriously hurt and knocked to the ground and can’t get up, people notice and make a clearing for him/her; they help him/her up, make sure he/she gets out of the crowd without any more damage… I have yet to see someone point and laugh at any fallen, seriously injured comrades; I’ve never seen anyone as these events as sadistic as that. I’m sure there are people like that somewhere in the crowd, but I think it’s safe to assume it’s a small minority. Those are the people that would most likely be booed from the crowd.

What I find most interesting about the strong advocates of mosh culture is that they truly reflect the way I interpret Satanic values, embodying the intersection of at least three Aspects of Satan:

1. Belial: You are your own spirit, you are your own actor. You neither conform nor rebel. There is no predefined structure, or set of rules.

2. The Leviathan: You understand that your own enjoyment depends on everyone’s enjoyment. You don’t pamper or constrain or “protect”, but you actively make sure to help those who need it. And if you detect people who are violent or acting in bad faith, they are booed from the crowd.

3. Pan: Be caught up in physicality, the music, the moment, and the feeling. Indulge in all of the physical sensations that your body can endure.

Of course, the mosh pit can always go wrong, and there have been news stories and scare-stories about serious injuries and things getting out of control. But at its finest, mosh pit culture represents the perfect balance between individuality, community, and indulgence: and when that perfect chord is struck, it’s one of the most amazing experiences in the world.

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