In the Pit: A Beginners’ Guide to Moshing

Loud, driving music, sweaty bodies, shoving, screaming: to someone new to the concert scene, the mosh pit looks like nothing short of total chaos. In reality, pits follow unspoken rules of etiquette.
“This is sort of common sense, but be respectful,” first-year Holly Butcher said about pit etiquette. “For example, if someone is hurt or falling, help them out.” Butcher has been a mosher since 2001, and has over a dozen concerts under her belt.
First-year Asa Fager, another experienced mosher, had an important piece of wisdom to pass on. “Don’t be vengeful. If someone hits you too hard or knocks you over or something, don’t try to go after them. It’s just a pit; you’re supposed to be knocked around.”
Newcomers to moshing, be forewarned: the pit is a very violent place. “I almost died,” Butcher said. “Someone kicked my head, and I couldn’t breathe for about two minutes. I tried to put my head down, but everyone around me tried to pick me up.”
Fager also mentioned taking injuries in the pit. “I got a rib dislodged at a Pennywise show. That was pretty cool.”
Both Butcher and Fager stressed wearing comfortable clothes and shoes. “Wear something you’re willing to lose,” Fager said. “So much can get broken or lost in pits.”
Mosh pits have areas of greater and lesser violence. “Don’t go front and center if you aren’t willing to get shoved around. The sides are much calmer,” Butcher advised.
New moshers should also bring a water bottle for after the concert. “I remember after Green Day, my friends and I were so dehydrated we had horrible headaches,” Butcher said.
All of the chaos in the pit, despite its appearance, can have a therapeutic effect. It’s very easy to lose yourself in the crowd, and the shoving is a great de-stressor. Mosh pits usually accompany concerts by punk or rock bands, since chaos and violence are associated with these styles of music.
There are two locales in the Greensboro area offer good places to mosh. Ziggy’s in Winston-Salem has three tiered levels, the bottommost level making a fairly calm pit. Ziggy’s is hosting Chevelle and Trust Co., two fairly popular alternative bands, on Sunday, Feb. 9. The Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro has a much more violent floor, but it only offers the occasional rock or punk concert.
When asked to describe a pit, neither Fager nor Butcher could find the words. “Pits can’t really be described; it’s just an expression of the music,” Fager said. Butcher agreed. “It’s a lot of fun; there is no other way to describe it unless you’ve been there.”