The Mosch

Went to Rockfest the other day. Had a good time –that is until I got into the mosh, got a little too frisky, and engaged in a slam dance with a guy that knocked me far enough across the pavement to break my upper humorous (which wasn’t that funny). Luckily, it happened towards the second to the last act; so I still had a good time. And according to the orthopedic doctor, as it stands now, it’s mainly a matter of keeping it stable and letting it heal. Plus that, it was my left arm which leaves me my more functional right.

But 2 other benefits came out of it as well. For one, it forced me to do something I haven’t had the benefit of for some time: to actually just relax -got some hydrocodone. Even more important, for our purposes, it gave me cause to reflect on the nature of the mosch and its underutilization as subject of study for such disciplines as social psychology, anthropology, philosophy and theology (given the spiritual nature of it), and even mathematics (that is given the implications for chaos and fractal mathematics). And, in the following, I hope to offer proof of the phenomenon’s worthiness as subject of study while also offering some potential terminology to be used in that study.

First of all, I noted the difference between this particular mosh (under such bands as Hollywood Undead, Skinny Puppies, and, the headliner, Blue October) and the last one I had experienced under the 2010 Rockfest with Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie, and Godsmack. Now the interesting thing was that I had gotten hurt in what was the far friendlier mosh of the other night as compared to the far meaner one of 2010. But, before we go on, we should make a distinction between 2 poles of a spectrum that can describe the different kinds of moshes we can find ourselves in: the low intensity mosh of the other day and the high intensity mosh of 2010. To give you an example, the high intensity mosh of 2010 reached the point of the mass tilt, that in which, because of the force of individuals at the back of the crowd, individuals are forced to lean in a given direction until it ends up in pocket of individuals in a dog pile on the ground.

The thing that interested me was that it seemed that if I was going to get hurt, it should have been in the more high intensity mosh. (Put in mind here that the guy that knocked me down and broke my humorous was the one that picked me up.) But as I thought about it (and this is where chaos and fractal mathematics comes in), I realized that low intensity moshes pose dangers unlike those of the high intensity ones. The main reason is that low intensity moshes tend to have a lower density of individuals. I saw the problem with this a couple of times the other day. Some individual would decide they wanted to crowd surf, jump into a high density pocket which could hold them up, only to be passed on to a lower density one that couldn’t and drop to the concrete below. And if you think about the way slam dances come about, it would be a lot harder in a high density pocket. And even if they did, the pocket of space created for it would be too small for someone to fly as far as I did.

Now, many among us will ask: given the dangers at all points of the spectrum, why even go in? But to those of us that have “gone in”, isn’t there a spiritual/communal element to the mosh? Doesn’t it draw you in weak spot by weak spot? And even the slam dance: isn’t that, to most of us, a form of play? The eruption of individual inertias? The first time I encountered one, back in 90’s (that is as compared to images we got of it through sex pistols videos in the late 70’s), it was about people just rough housing without trying to hurt someone. But when an individual acted like they wanted to be cock of the walk, everyone else backed away.

And given the protocols involved in The Mosh, why wouldn’t a social psychologist or anthropologist be interested?

Despite the individualism that tends to develop in The Mosch,

don’t we also do it to be together?

It’s a little like Durkheim’s point concerning Mana.

I don’t see mosh pits as individualistic in any sense. They are, I think, nearly completely on the Dionysian side of things. You lose yourself in the mosh, if you’re doing it right.

ha, didn’t realize this was the adademy. not trying to clutter your thread with old anecdotes.

Yeah, exactly FJ! First of all, there does seem to be a lot of communal protocols. However, I think it does allow for some quasi-individualistic gestures -the slam dance for instance -that is even if people usually approach it as a form of playful competition and pull their punches (it’s more like tribute to the punk days than anything). But then moshes tend to differ depending on the bands and other variables. But the one common aspect they all seem to have is that Dionysian element. That, with the communal, constitutes the spiritual element I was talking about.

You talk about losing yourself in it. And I agree. But have you also noticed how it draws you in. It’s like can’t help but gravitate to the weaknesses, gaps, and spaces until you can’t go any further. In that sense, it’s a bit of a challenge and adventure: the goal being to get near the stage, even if, once you get there, you need to have the stage hands pull you out.

But thanks for the points, FJ, especially for bringing up the Dionysian aspect of it. I’m thinking about beefing it up about 500 words (including your point) and submitting it to Philosophy Now.

Now as for Smears:

It seems to me that Smears is so desperate for that gotcha moment when it comes to me that they’re beginning to embarrass themselves. I almost have to hope that their scatter shot approach (throw everything on the table, hope something hits) actually pays off at some point in time

Broken humerous you missed another good point, good story you once got slammed so hard into the ground by a whirling nutcase mosh dude that you broke your arm. Woah dude the worst I ever got was slammed into a wall and then dropped to my knees when winded. Hardcore dude. :stuck_out_tongue:

Moshing is just abandoning yourself to the “dance”, it’s no more or less than anarchy, and unchecked mayhem, and hence fun. :slight_smile:

I think I am probably getting a little too old to mosh now, but hey I have my scars. :wink:

As for high and low density, yeah mosh pits are far more dangerous when there isn’t some other nutter to stop you from exiting the pit at a velocity a Jamaican gold medalist sprinter would be proud of and in mid air. If I may end with a tribute to health and safety though, fuck you and the horse you rode in on you dicks. :slight_smile:

When it’s right, Heland: the mosh is a cozy kind of chaos.

There is a special attitude to it: the spiritual/communal protocol and understanding.

Yeah… and fuck you too, brother!

Thanks for the points.

Lol Amen. :slight_smile:

take care, man!

I’m remembering back to when I used to go to Southern California punk shows all the time. Your ‘slam dance’ thing reminded me of this one particular show. I was moshing, and this guy and I kept on sort of going for each other instead of other people – like over the course of maybe 10 minutes we built up a sort of rivalry. When the next song came up after that 10 minutes, nobody was moshing except me and him. We were fucking each other up.

And then, next song, everybody came back in, and him and I wrapped our arms around each others necks and moshed together. Best buds 4 lyfe

Yeah… exactly! It is a complex relationship. I think sometimes something similar happens on the boards.

I mean if people look at old videos of punk bands like the sex pistols, and they see people with blood all over them, they assume it’s the result of hostility between individuals. What they won’t understand is that it may come out of a feeling of camaraderie, that the individual sees that blood as testimony to their commitment to a group of like minded people. Someone looking at it from the outside could not understand the communal element of it.

People might see as much in my relationship with Satyr. But, in all honesty, I consider him an old friend. And there is no doubt in my mind he feels the same way about me. It’s why he keeps coming over here trying to draw me back to KTS: he wants me in his mosh pit. For some reason or other, he loves slam dancing with me -which is kind of flattering.

And, BTW, FJ: thanks for correcting my spelling on the word “mosh”.