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Ah, the joys of going to metal shows. There’s something magical about the feeling of unity that comes from assembling a group of strangers in one place to enjoy a common pastime, gathering among peers to stand in awe of your favorite artists, waiting in anticipation for when they inevitably take the stage. Hoping against all hope that the band will play their old stuff, which is a million times better than that new crap. Maybe you went out alone, looking to have a few drinks and make a friend or two that share your interests. Or maybe you finally worked up the courage to ask that cute girl from Starbucks to come check out a mutual interest and, gasp, she said yes.

Regardless, there are few feelings that match the rush you get from standing mere feet away from the stage when those giant speakers start to hum as your favorite act is about to lay into it. That is, until some utterly wang-faced hyper-chump of a kid hauls off and spin-kicks you in the face.

Watch the headbanging blonde girl. At around 0:14 she gets totally fisted, and not in the NSFW way. Also, note the mixture of horrified gasps and delighted laughter from the crowd as her limp body is carried away and the vocalist sheepishly asks “Do we keep going?”

Yep. I’m talking about hardcore dancing, the overly aggressive, spastic cousin of moshing. It’s when someone gets so excited about the music they’re hearing that they have no other choice but to violently attack nothing in particular, for no reason at all. Often, this is coupled with a profound lack of spatial awareness, a combination which frequently results in severely broken noses and intensely awkward confrontations, such as:

“Hey man, what in the deep fried hell? That disturbingly well executed roundhouse kick just shattered my girlfriend’s orbital bone!”

“Whatever dude, I’m just dancing. Don’t be such a dickhead.”

The above reply is one that I have actually heard at a show I attended, during which some amateur ninja had unwittingly punted a 112 pound seventeen year old girl in the face, nearly divorcing her head from her neck in the process. He didn’t apologize. He didn’t check to see if she was okay. He defended himself, as if it was somehow her face’s fault for being near his foot as it carelessly swung through the air to compliment a particularly brutal breakdown.

Kinda like this video at 0:08, except she was nowhere near the pit and there wasn’t delightful piano music playing.

To be fair, intentionally rearranging someones facial features is a rare motive for hardcore dancers, and for the most part, when these accidents occur, the parties involved usually rush to the aid of whoever happens to be picking up their teeth at the time. Such is the universal mentality of moshpits, it can get pretty chaotic and to avoid an actual body count people tend to look out for each other, pick up those that fall so they don’t get trampled, make a path for those that need to get out for water, medical attention, or just some clean air, etc. The general idea is that as intense and violent as things can get, it’s all about having a good time, and nobody is actually out to hurt anyone else.

     Above: A good time, apparently.

According to the internet, hardcore dancing originated on the east coast punk/hardcore scene, specifically in New York in the late eighties, as a response to the influx of breakdowns and blast beats being introduced into newer music. What began as a simple expansion on the typical moshing practice quickly evolved into an entity all of its own with the inclusion of two-step elements and karate influences, known to previous critics and confused witnesses as “Kickbox moshing”. Before too long, it was an all-out assault of windmills, misdirected kicks, and a downright disturbing practice known as “Crowdkills”, wherein the dancer in question picks a group of non-dancing show-goers at random and careens wildly into them, sometimes intentionally slamming them into walls and just generally looking to deliberately cause injuries.

I understand that people get really into music, and that energy needs an outlet. I myself have moshed and dove off stages and crowd-surfed at a great deal of shows.  It’s easy, and really a lot of fun to lose oneself in the moment and go a little bit crazy sometimes. What’s not as easy is seeing the logic in flailing about like a rabid orangutan in the grips of a PCP binge, causing collateral damage to unfortunate bystanders and ruining the show for everyone that isn’t convulsing like an occupy protester on the business end of an NYPD stun-gun.

Moshpits have been a staple of heavy music for as long as heavy music has existed, and it works incredibly well for the tone and atmosphere of those types of shows. It’s usually contained to a specific region of the venue, namely mid-center in front of the stage, and there’s always a collective of protective boyfriends and just overall good people who form a wall around the aforementioned region to stand guard for those who aren’t interested in getting involved.

It’s not unheard of for people to get hurt in the pit, it’s a known hazard of choosing to jump into it to begin with. Piercings get torn out, toes get crushed, feelings get hurt, wallets, cellphones and keys are thrown around like dollar bills at a strip club, but for the most part nobody complains about it because that’s the risk they took when they opted in.

Many hardcore dancers don’t give a single chocolate covered fuck about who opted into what. They’re completely ignorant as to who’s standing around them, and whether or not they wanted to know what a scene-kid’s show tastes like. If the mood strikes them they’ll instantly start frantically punching the air like it insulted their basketball jersey and spinning in circles like Pete Wentz out for revenge on the critics, onlookers be damned. There aren’t many words for that which don’t boil down to a synonym for “shitty” or “knob-headed”.

The title of this video alleviates the need for a clever caption.

I’d say about 90% of people who choose to behave this way are less awesome than a power tool enema. However, some of them are decent people. In fact, lots of downright great people are into that sort of thing, and they know enough to find a nice empty part of the venue in which to engage in their questionable hobby. That’s totally cool with me. I’m not the mayor of that town in Footloose telling people not to dance. Hell, I wholeheartedly support expressing yourself, no matter how much of a tool-bag you may look like. All I’m saying is that a little consideration goes a long way, especially in an environment that by definition is cramped, crowded, and offers little room to adjust one’s junk, let alone do a fucking barrel roll.

You thought the price of admission was steep? That’s nothing compared to the cost of reconstructive surgery and dental work.

It’s a matter of self-awareness and common decency to pick your moments for shit like that, and when I see kids doing it on the bus or in the smoking area of a venue or basically anywhere that isn’t a space specifically designated for it, it makes me pretty angry. I happen to enjoy masturbating, as many do, but you’d be hard pressed to find me whipping it out on the subway and slapping someone in the face with my outlandishly large cock simply because the mood struck me and the lighting was flattering. So I suppose this policy extends to more than just hardcore dancing, it’s a good rule of thumb for pretty much any hobby to find an appropriate place to engage in it, lest you become an object of ridicule, or worse yet, the target of a vicious yet well-deserved beating.

That being said, Go ahead hardcore kids, dance like no one’s watching you. Just keep in mind that in reality, people are in fact watching, and not only do you look absolutely ridiculous, but you’re also endangering those around you if you choose to spaz out irresponsibly.

Don’t let pricks like me take the wind out of your sails, either. I’m just some jerk with a computer and a surplus of angry opinions. If you’re truly passionate about frenzied un-choreographed freak-outs, apply the skill to something more constructive. Take up capoeira, or audition as an extra for the next 28 days later movie (28 years later?), or volunteer to train med school students how to properly treat someone suffering an epileptic fit. Follow your dreams, kids. No matter how stupid or pointless. All I’m asking is that you don’t go around Chris Brown-ing people and acting like it’s their bad, and I think that’s a pretty reasonable request.

 

  • http://www.killerpandabear.com Jess

    I agree with you that people who are into hardcore dancing need to be mindful of where they engage in it. But, objectively speaking, can’t moshing be held to the exact same standards? It looks just as ridiculous to outsiders, breaks out spontaneously, and hurts just as many people. Conversely, the ‘brotherhood’ you spoke of, where people are helping each other when they fall, etc., exists among a great many hardcore dancers, if not the majority. I think the metal community at large has become something of a hipster; when presented with a new twist on an idea that’s they’re used to, it’s instantly ridiculed.

    Take a step back, then look at a Cannibal Corpse concert with a fresh perspective. That shit is insane. People are whipping sweat-drenched, long, greasy hair in each other’s faces, people are drunk and running into everything in a mosh pit, and the entire front row is somehow doing the clock and synchronizing it. Now look at an Emmure show. Not too much different, eh? Add in some ’80s style pogoing with a healthy dose of ’80s karate movies injected instead of the drunk atoms hellbent on colliding with each other, and we’ve got two equally ridiculous scenes in front of us.

    Here’s what I would say: Be fucking mindful of how you enjoy yourself at shows, and have fun. The end.

    • Leviathan

      You’ve essentially mirrored my sentiments exactly. If you re-read the article I think you’ll find we’re pretty much on the same page here. Specifically from the third last paragraph onward, in which we were making nearly the exact same point at parts, although I would still argue that hardcore dancing is infinitely more ridiculous than conventional moshing, but that’s just my take on it. Regardless, thanks for reading and giving your opinion.
      Cheers.

  • http://www.themonolith.com DGR

    “I happen to enjoy masturbating, as many do, but you’d be hard pressed to find me whipping it out on the subway and slapping someone in the face with my outlandishly large cock simply because the mood struck me and the lighting was flattering.”

    I have done so at a show, but in my defense it was a really, really good breakdown. I figured it was better than spin kicking my way through empty air.

    I am all out hostile against hardcore dancers, especially crowd-bashers. I have zero respect for people once you start fucking up someone else’s show.

  • http://www.themonolith.com Jane-Fraud

    “I happen to enjoy masturbating, as many do, but you’d be hard pressed to find me whipping it out on the subway and slapping someone in the face with my outlandishly large cock simply because the mood struck me and the lighting was flattering.”

    cheers, mate, i fucking love this!

  • youngli0n

    hahaha ohh the people that come to mind when i read this. what’s crazy is some people become what i would call “scene celebritys” just cuz everyone knows them as that douchebag that’s gonna go hardcore dance and try and fuck people up, and then when they get in shit for it they throw brass knuckles at you. like who throws a brass knuckle… honestly *austin powers voice* and after they kick someone in the face after getting to close to you (not the other way around) they try and act like it’s your fault. i be like nah nigga! some of these guys purposely come to the end of the circle to try and somehow make physical contact with you when you clearly aren’t involved in that fuckery. what’s that move they do? picking up change? it will slowly evolve to picking up teeth (with broken fingers)

    great read @leviathan

  • http://old-man-windbreaker.tumblr.com Old Man Windbreaker

    Well put.

    By the way, the next “28 ___ Later” is supposed to be “28 Months Later”.

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