Mosh Art

Dancing is an activity that is different within every culture, so it only makes sense that punk counterculture also has its own very distinctive type of dance, moshing. Moshing involves people running into and slamming into each other but has many variations. Pogoing, for example, involves the mosher jumping and and down with their hands at their sides. Others prefer to just run into each other, and some others prefer something entirely different. Moshing is a form of dance, and therefor a form of expression, despite the fact that many people view moshing as violent and pointless. The fact that some popular bands, including Fugazi and Smashing Pumpkins, have condemned moshing due to its violent nature, have also probably contributed to moshing not being seen as an expressive art form.

That’s not to say that moshing doesn’t come with its dangers. I’ve fallen on the floor many times. With all the chaos of the moving bodies, there’s always a chance someone could knock you over or accidentally hit you in the head (I thought I had broken my nose moshing over the summer, but luckily it was just a bruise). Rarely will you encounter any bullies, and most would never intentionally hurt anyone. Also, most are nice people, and it proper mosh etiquette to help someone up if they fall to the ground. As long as you are aware of your surroundings, you should be fine. The chance of getting knocked to the ground can be intimidating for many though, and can deter them from moshing. Often times when you tell someone you mosh, they may look at you like they are crazy.

My first encounter with moshing and hardcore punk occurred in a dirty, crowded basement. At first I was confused, as I had never been a part of anything like it before. As the loud, chaotic music played and people were slamming into each other, I stood in the back of the room, observing everything. At the end of the show, my hearing was shot from the incredibly loud music and I was overheated from standing shoulder to shoulder with everyone in the tiny basement. I wasn’t quite sure what had just occurred, but something unexplainable drew me back to the basement, and I continued to attend these shows. After going a few more times, I finally decided jump into the mosh pit. I began knocking into people and just letting my body go wherever it felt like going, and I was having a great time. I did not care who was watching or what anybody else was doing; I was simply focused on having a good time and enjoying the music, channeling my inner Ian Curtis-esque dance moves, and I do the same now whenever I mosh at a show. This is the beautiful thing about moshing: you can express yourself however you want.

Ask any person how they mosh, their favorite way to mosh, or why they like to mosh and you are guaranteed to get a different answer no matter who you ask. While some forms of dance have very strict and rigid rules about what to do at what particular time, there are no rules in moshing. It’s just you and the music, and the rest–how you dance, who you interact with–is completely up to you. While the lack of rules and formality may deter some from viewing moshing as a proper style of dance, it is a unique form of expression and goes hand in hand with punk counterculture, just as Salsa goes hand in hand with Cuban culture or line dancing goes hand in hand with rural culture in the United States.

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