Garden State Headache: Anatomy of a Mosh Pit

bobby olivier breaks down a hardcore staple …

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It’s no secret that every single metal or hardcore show feature at least one mosh, or circle pit functioning continuously for hours in different parts of the crowd.

And no matter which band is on stage or which venue is involved, all heavy metal circle pits are amazingly similar. There are several key components to these phenomena:

The typical moshers: These are the people who are just in the pit, usually with friends, to have a good time, run around, flail their arms around and really get into the music. These people are the safest moshers in most cases, and make up a good chunk of the pit.

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The injurers: There is always at least one guy, usually over 25 and under 5-foot-10 who is hopped up on some sort of stimulant and has made it his mission to be covered in either his blood or someone else’s by the end of the night. This is the guy that does not flail or run, he just stomps around the pit, looking for people to hit, and legitimately hurt because he thinks it’s cool and more true to the “hardcore” lifestyle. This guy is not cool and is the reason I try to avoid the pits in most situations.

The large protector: Most pits also feature at least one massive human-being who stands in the middle of the pit, simply because he cannot move around very well, as other people bounce off him. These guys are usually 6-foot-3 or taller, at least 300 pounds and feature some sort of facial hair. Often, these enormous men adopt the role of protecting everyone in the pit, or at least making sure nothing gets out of control (as if a mosh pit isn’t inherently out of control). I’ve seen these mountains break up fights within the pit on several occasions, usually between an injurer and a typical mosher.

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The lover/fighter: This specific brand of injurer has a circle pit identity disorder. During songs, he is intent on moshing harder than anyone else and pushing/shoving people as hard as he possibly can, but as soon as the song ends, he finds someone to high-five, hug or put his arm around to show no hard feelings about breaking the poor soul’s nose. This guy is usually intoxicated and sans a shirt.

Mosher chicks: This brand of metal fans scares me most. Girls who enter the circle pit enter at their own risk, because the injurers are usually too high on speed to distinguish who is OK to hit and who isn’t. But mosher chicks don’t care. They accept their physical inferiority in this pile of mostly men, and usually leave the area with some form of injury. These girls are often intoxicated as well, their hair is usually more than one color. They are usually young. Older ladies seem to figure out the pit isn’t worth their pretty face.

The old guy with the dreadlocks: Abbreviated TOGWTD, this guy is in the twilight of his moshing career. He can usually only hang in the pit for a few minutes, and tells the injurer to calm down at least one time. Marijuana is a favorite for TOGWTD, usually 40 or older, and he is the most mellow mosher of the bunch. The old guy with the dreadlocks is entertaining to no end.

The perimeter: The outer ring of the pit is made up of people who want nothing to do with the goings-on of this pit, but just happened to be standing where the floor decided to open. These people, who include men, women and children make up the first line of bodies surrounding the pit and have to be on guard at all times because moshers are getting thrown into them constantly. Being on the perimeter is a rough go when on the side of the pit that is not facing the stage.

Without these crazies, the social anomaly that is a circle pit can hardly exist.

Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.

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