Moshing, or slam-dancing, is a particular set of motions which can only very loosely be referred to as a dance. It is performed almost always to heavy metal music. A mosher is a person who regularly moshes.
How to Mosh
Headbanging is the oldest, simplest, and most popular form of moshing. To do it, simply throw your head forwards so you are looking at the ground. Now bring it back up quickly, and bend it even further back so that your face is aimed at the ceiling or sky. Now repeat the process. This should be done approximately in time to whatever music happens to be playing. For extra effect, the hair should be grown long and worn loose at the moshing session.
WARNING: this can lead to a headache within seconds if done too enthusiastically. If done enthusiastically for a long time, whiplash can develop.
The experienced mosher knows how to mosh without getting a headache so quickly. The anti-headache method of moshing also lends itself even more to visual effect.
Instead of throwing your head forwards, throw your entire torso forwards. You may wish to extend all the way so that your face is pointed at your stomach or crotch; however, this will cause headaches very easily. You are better off going only so far down that, if your eyes are open, they are looking at your feet or shins. Now quickly bring your torso back up, throw your head back, and repeat the whole process again. It is critically important that the motion is smooth; that way, your cerebro-spinal fluid will not be jarred too much and your head will escape pain.
This is a rare form of moshing that is generally only done by the band playing. While keeping the eyes facing forwards, the head is rocked quickly from side to side. The effect is impressive and painless, though not as fun.
Windmilling is a combination of basic headbanging and side-to-side moshing. Begin with your head facing to one side. Quickly bring it down in an arc so that your chin touches your torso. Just as quickly, bring it up in an arc so that it faces the other side. Repeat. This method has impressive visual effect (particularly with long hair), is good fun, and does not usually lead to headaches.
Pogoing is simply jumping vertically up and down. It is a discrete form of moshing usually seen in mosh pits (see below). There is no real skill to it: just jump! It can also be combined with more traditional forms of moshing for a downright crazy effect.
Chicken dancing appears complex, yet is in fact very simple. Simply flail your head and limbs madly in time to the music. It is also often combined with other forms of moshing, for an effect that can resemble a huge group of people having some sort of seizure.
Contrary to popular belief, a mosh pit is not a specific place. Rather, it is a large, densely-packed group of people, all moshing. If everybody at the entire concert is moshing, then the mosh pit may be identified by the fact that the moshers within it are somewhat more energetic than those surrounding them. They are also more densely packed.
At bigger concerts in large arenas or stadia, there are often designated mosh pits. The moshing in these is very intense, and they should only be entered by an experienced mosher.
On the other hand, at many open-air concerts as well as the smaller concerts and gigs, mosh pits form spontaneously when a few people suddenly decide to mosh really hard, or to pogo. They are then joined by people from their immediate surroundings. These pits can get quite large very quickly, though will also tend to dissolve with rapidity.
A third type of mosh pit is the circle pit. This appears when the moshers all suddenly cram into the outer edges, either of their own accord or at the bequest of the band. The intention here is primarily to come together with an almighty rush either when the music restarts, or when a certain note is played.
In any form of mosh pit, a high degree of caution is advised. There are a lot of people jumping, and a fall can have very unfortunate consequences1. Therefore, if you feel the need to enter or start a mosh pit, be very careful and do not attempt to do so if drunk or stoned.
As well as moshers, one is also likely to see punks, goths, metalheads, bikers, skaters, and indeed anyone who likes rock 'n' roll or heavy metal in a mosh pit.
Body-surfing, also called crowd-surfing, is primarily a feature of the bigger, designated mosh pits. What happens is that someone is lifted up and passed around on their back over all the other moshers. This person may be either a lucky2 member of the audience, or sometimes a member of the band that leaps into the fray. For safety reasons, it is nowadays uncommon for a band-member to try this.
Moshers may be any age, but most are in their teens or twenties. Apart from bikers, there are very few older than about 35.
What Moshers Generally Look Like
Moshers of either sex are not very likely to wear glasses, as they can easily fall off and break in a protracted moshing session. For this reason, it is not a good idea to wear spectacles to a rock concert. The risk is not so great for contact lenses, though is still quite present. If you must bring eyewear into a rock concert with you, it is a good idea to bring the case; your glasses or lenses can be placed in there and kept either in your pocket or, if available, the cloakroom.
The male mosher tends to have long hair which, if loose, is often quite untidy. It may also be very greasy due to infrequent washing. Some moshers have punk hairstyles (such as mohawks, spikes, etc) but most just let it hang loose.
On moshers younger in years, there is a slightly greater degree of spots than on non-mosher boys of the same age group. Male moshers also tend to have piercings or tattoos, especially in the nose and eyebrows; they do not have as many as punks, though still more than the average population.
A male mosher will generally be seen wearing a T-shirt of his favourite band. He is also often wearing an old, light jacket which looks like it has been slept in. He may wear a hoodie instead, though this is not common. His jeans are generally faded and often have numerous holes or slashes. Shoes may be either athletic or sensible, but in either case, are often quite scuffed.
A black leather jacket is a common sight on a male mosher on a cold day; this is often decorated with numerous badges and spikes. He may also wear a long coat, known as the 'neo coat' after the character in The Matrix who wore one quite a bit.
The female mosher generally has a better complexion than the male, though this has as much to do with genetics as with sanitation. Make-up is either almost absent, or else it covers the entire face; in either case, it is nearly always black.
Female moshers tend to have black hair, and those with fair hair often dye it black. However, they may also dye it blue, purple, or green3. It may be any length.
Many female moshers dress like their male counterparts, though the jeans may be substituted by a short skirt. Others dress like goths, though they are not considered true goths.
However, a great many female moshers wear black dresses, which are either short, low-cut, or both. As well as black, they may also wear shades of deep red or purple. 'Sensible' dresses are never seen. As an alternative, the mosher may wear a belly-top and short skirt. Either outfit is often complemented by a pair of high-heeled boots. These may be simple and elegant when combined with formal wear, or they may bear enormous sliver buckles, spikes, and very high, dangerous looking heels. Stiletto heels are almost never worn, as they make moshing incredibly difficult.
While male moshers wear their mosh clothes at every opportunity, female moshers generally save theirs for a special occasion, such as a concert or gig.
Where to Find Moshers
- Behind the school bicycle sheds
- Rock concerts
- Garages (if moshers attempt to form their own bands)
- Student accommodation
- The rock section in music shops