Violence, dance collide in moshing

There’s nothing quite like getting beat up at Fun Fun Fun Fest while the lead singer of GWAR shoots red dyed water at you. Or getting trapped under a fallen crowd surfer only to push the body off your head so you can continue jumping and screaming along to Bad Religion.

It’s hard to explain to someone who has never experienced the intensity of a mosh pit the immense pleasure that comes from thrashing with it and the consequences of being thrashed. Everyone’s smelly breath and body odor are right in your face. As people slam you into other people, you find yourself smeared with their sweat and filth.
The crowd constantly surges in all directions, so limbs and hard bodies shove you around. For someone of my height, that means my face smashing into shoulder blades and elbows cutting into my ribs and boobs. As people claw for survival, your hair gets ripped and you accidentally rip other people’s hair — as proven by the clumps of foreign strands that cling to your body after a particularly rough mosh pit.

People are packed so tightly there’s no good place to put your arms except for up in the air. If your arms are scrunched awkwardly in front of you, they get caught, painfully bent and pulled away in the tide. If your arms are down at your side, you don’t have enough time to worm your hands up when a crowd surfer comes flailing your way with their foot kicking at
your mouth.

It might sound awful to leave a music festival with bruises all over your body, your hair matted, a bump blossoming on your forehead, your bra strap torn and your face so grimy that a regular washing can’t get rid of all the dirt. But it’s not. Not for me anyway.

There’s something so liberating about screaming with like-minded people until you’re hoarse. When a circle pit starts and people are running in circles and banging their bodies into each other, there’s something raw and exhilarating about punching your way right in. The mosh pit carries a vigor that wears off the farther away from the stage you go, and there’s something about being where all the action is, close enough to see the band’s sweat stains, that makes you feel like you’re a part of the show.

With adrenaline coursing through you, sometimes this sense of surrealism hits. It’s difficult to think of anything outside of the here and now. Maybe you’ve spent the week slugging away at school and going through the motions just to survive the week. You throw all your energy into this for an hour or two and suddenly you just feel so alive. Maybe emboldened, even.

The first time I was in a mosh pit was at my first concert, which I’m embarrassed to admit was a My Chemical Romance show my freshman year of high school. Gerard Way, the lead singer, parted the crowd in two halves and then the two halves charged into each other. It was love at first crash.

Moshing is not for everyone, obviously. If you have never experienced moshing, I recommend you try it at least once for the experience. If you are female, even more so. But please, don’t be the girl with her head buried in her boyfriend’s shoulder while he wraps his arm around her head, kissing her soothingly. You are at a rock show, not sitting at home watching “The Notebook.”

If the violence is too much for you to handle, get in the pit for a band you know will be less riotous. The mosh pit for MGMT won’t be the same as the mosh pit for Mastodon.
Fun Fun Fun Fest, thanks for the long overdue beating. I might go to bed tonight aching and still feeling unclean, but it was worth it.