I miss concerts. Everyone who loves music has during the pandemic. I miss the anticipation that builds as the day and then the hour of the gig gets closer. I miss the joyous roar of the crowd as the main act begins their first song. I miss the train of thought that rushes through my head as I process that I am breathing the same air as someone I’ve admired for a long time. It’s you! You’re real! You’re not just a picture in a magazine – you’re actually real!
What I don’t miss is the mosh pit. To be more precise, I don’t miss edging towards the wall of the venue so that the erupting mosh pit doesn’t swallow me into it. I don’t miss the quiet pulse of panic as people barge past to get to the pit and I hope that none of them shove into me. Once, someone at a gig did exactly that while I had a cup of water in my hand, causing me to spill it all over myself – not my idea of fun in an unusually chilly venue.
For the time being, the concept of a mosh pit will be a distant dream while social distancing is still around. For some, the idea of a Covid-secure gig might be spoiled by its absence. It’s fair enough. At the same time, however, I imagine that it won’t be just me who might sort of like it.
A friend of mine once recounted being muscled out of the pit because the guys surrounding her decided she didn’t belong there
Most of the time, mosh pits intimidate me. I’m not really built for them – in more ways than one. I’m five foot four and I wear glasses I’d rather not break or lose (I quite like being able to see). I don’t feel like I could hold my own and I probably don’t look like I could either. Having pretty risk-averse parents who would break out in cold sweats imagining me in a mosh pit has had an influence on me too.
I do mosh a bit though. Mosh pits are a regular feature of Warwick’s very own rock club night Mayhem, and sometimes I’ll go into those. I’ve enjoyed it, so I understand the appeal. The difference with Mayhem is that I’m moshing alongside people I know, who I am comfortable around. It’s not necessarily any less raucous, but I am around people who I know wouldn’t be untoward.
I wouldn’t feel that way in a mosh pit of strangers, especially if I were to be the smallest person in there, which is always possible. I don’t know how strong people could be or if I’d be hurt, even though I know the unwritten mosh pit etiquette (you immediately help up anyone who falls down, you hold any lost items you find above your head).
The cautious part of me sometimes wonders if it’s an easy place for someone to grope me. I’ve never had that happen at a gig and I count myself lucky for it, even though that should be the norm. I’m all too aware though that happens frequently, especially at festivals. In a way, I suppose the things girls have drummed into their heads about avoiding strange men may ring true for me at least in these scenarios.
The mosh pit values taking up space, throwing your weight around, having brawn
I did once read an article somewhere that brought gender politics into the mosh pit, and I can fully see the logic of it. If I were a man, I probably would get in the pit when I had the chance. It’s quite a masculine space if you think about it. The mosh pit values taking up space, throwing your weight around, having brawn. All these traits we have constructed as masculine ones. It means I wouldn’t feel welcome there. I’ve even known the mosh pit to be tied to other sexist incidents. A friend of mine once recounted being muscled out of the pit because the guys surrounding her decided she didn’t belong there.
When gigs come back as we remember them, so will the mosh pits and that will be difficult to stop. I don’t believe in banning them; I do see the appeal and since they are instigated by the crowd, a ban would be hard to enforce, as well as being unpopular. They tried doing exactly that at Warped Tour, and it didn’t work.
I hope in the future that people can be mindful. Not everyone goes to a gig to mosh. And guys, if you’re reading this, don’t push the girls out of the pit – they want and deserve to be there, have fun and feel comfortable doing that as much as you do.