Reagan-era politics, microwave food, docksiders, Izod, Rod Stewart, Def Leopard, Rocky sequels, Olivia Newton John, Pat Bennetar, aerobics, slimfast, neon colored radio stations, nuclear family theories, The Breakfast Club, Madonna, Polaroid cameras, and bi-level feathered haircuts. Need I say more? Punk rock is the logical reaction to cultural circumstances between the late 70's and early 80's. If I was a young individual who valued having a mind of my own, the prospect of being associated with any part of this would frustrate me to tears. I'd start a band called the Ramones. We may not have any skills but our music would be loud enough to keep our friends slamming into each other on the dance floor at CBGB's. The British might have ska and new wave but punk rock would be just the thing they needed --- one last chance to colonize America. Once they patronized punk rock, it would become legitimate. On both sides of the Atlantic, everybody and their mother would wanna dress like Cindy Lauper and intellectualize about anarchy. How ironic that those bloody scalawags would assume responsibility for inspiring the biggest marketing tragedy in the history of industrialized nations. Fortunately, the one thing that would remain authentic and survive the commercialization, marketization, and dorkization of our MTV nation would be the Mosh Pit.

Mosh Pit Basics

Slamdancing is an art. A mosh pit is a collection of artists who practice the art of slamdancing. There are mediocre artists and there are artists who transcend boundaries of artistic standards. In the pit there are just as many Paula Abduls and Madonnas as there are Fred Astaires and James Browns. In order to exceed mediocrity in the mosh pit, you must understand the basics of slamdancing. None of this, however, is obvious to the untrained eye. To look upon the mosh pit for the first time is an affront to the senses for the mosh pit is unlike anything else in nature. Without any regard for the music, a large crowd shifts and swirls in front of a stage. Bodies move to and fro amidst random acts of self-sacrifice and enigmatic grace.

Physical contact is a necessary ingredient for the mosh pit. Therefore the best approach is to remember to stay relaxed. Ideally, the point of impact is supposed to be gentle and friendly but at the same time adrenaline is adrenaline and a groove is a groove, so either catch the flow or...consider other options. If you don't like physical contact, stand on the edge of the pit and help keep out of control moshers from flying out of the circle. It is understood that when people fall down, you must try to pick them up. Fallen moshers might get trampled and cause others to trip and fall. It benefits the general well-being of everyone to rush to the aid of people who have fallen and can't get up.

The techniques of slamdancing vary depending upon the type of show you are at. When you see a punk band, you slam. Punks created slamdancing. What they had in mind was making sure that they could release some aggression and enjoy their music without being mistaken for the type of dorks that go to Billy Idol concerts. The verb to slamdance comes from the Latin word slamdancus, meaning fuck it, don't worry about anybody else, just dance. The objective of slamdancing is to dance, make physical contact, and bounce off of other people without hurting anyone. The objective of the mosh pit is to create an atmosphere which fosters unrestricted self-expression and interaction with live music.

At skaterock shows, you thrash. Skaters and snowboarders have always pushed the artistic limits of moshing. Skaterock encompasses everything from hardcore punk and ska to funk and hip-hop, so the rhythm and the tempo constantly change. Compared to the average person in the pit (with the exception of bike messengers) skaters and snowboarders flexibility, coordination, and conditioning on their side. Their inclination towards acrobatics and being airborne on the street, on vert, or on snow-covered slopes carries over to the pit. Thrashing is a faster more aggressive version of slamdancing which emphasizes creative airborne techniques. In order to witness true thrashing, check out Fishbone or The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. If you think you might be afraid, check out some old Flipside videos that have clips of Minor Threat, Black Flag, Suicidal Tendencies, and the old Red Hot Chili Peppers in concert.

At a ska show you skank. The Ska/Rock Steady beat is the predecessor to the Reggae one-drop. Although the modern ska beat moves faster than the reggae, the Oi/one-drop melody magically consumes people and makes them skank. Skanking is like jogging in place with a few adjustments. In order to skank, bend low to the ground. One arm comes up across the chest in an exaggerated jogging motion and the opposite knee comes up and hits the elbow. Skanking is not really a jog but more of a skip in time with the beat. If you have trouble learning how to skank, go find some skinheads and take them bowling. Oi, Oi, Oi!

Motorhead, Megadeth, Slayer, and Metallica during the Ride The Lightning/ Kill em' All days are the bands responsible for initiating the short-lived speed-metal era of the late 80's. Back then, metal was all about adrenaline, so it was played fast. But no music in the world could be played fast enough to keep the headbangers from nodding their heads and throwing their hair to the beat while they slammed. This version of slamming was called moshing. The reason that moshing has become the pseudonym for slamdancing is that Metallica was the only good band to survive the transitional period which replaced authentic forms of punk, thrash, and speedmetal with alternative buzzkill music.

Stagediving & Crowd Surfing

Stagedives and crowd surfing go hand in hand. You can't stagedive unless you crowd surf and vice versa. Many people cause harm to themselves and others because they don't realize that crowd surfing and stagediving require caution and skill. The first mistake that people make is not dressing properly. If you're gonna be airborne, don't wear spiked clothes like old skool punks or big-ass heavy boots like ya' momma. Second of all, if you're a heavy person, you may not want to be in the air unless there are considerable numbers of tall people in the audience to help hold your fat ass up.

Although a stagedive should take no longer than 5 seconds on the average, executing a stagedive is much more difficult than you think. Dealing with the crowd to get to the stage is a pain in the ass. Evading bouncers once you get on stage is an even bigger pain in the ass. And if you do make it to the stage, there's always that fifty percent chance that the crowd may not see you when you dive.

When you do get on stage, don't interrupt the band. Without music, the mosh pit cannot exist. Clumsy fools knock over mic stands, bump into guitars, and step on the monitors. Don't be a clumsy fool. Stupid fools hurl themselves off the stage and throw all their weight into the crowd. Don't be a stupid fool. As you land in the crowd, tense up momentarily in order to make yourself lighter. You'll be easier to catch. Dumb motherfuckers don't look before they dive and they break unsuspecting necks, land on crowd surfers, or bust their own heads open. Don't be a dumb-motherfucker. Look before you dive! I don't think I can handle another episode of C.HI.P.S or Quincy.

If you don't like to stagedive, crowd surfing without stagediving is easy if you use the "cop-ditch" method. Find two people who are taller than you, put a hand on each of their shoulders, then hoist yourself up just like you would to clear a tall fence when the cops are on your ass. This method ensures that two people, instead of one, can help you up. It also gives people around you the chance to react. Don't use the Granny-shot method. The Granny-shot method is when one person cups their hands to make a stool for someone who wants to go up. Usually, the fool that goes up, blindly falls backwards into the crowd. This could break somebody's neck or cause you to break your own. Once on top, relax and let the crowd carry you. It sucks to hold someone up while they flail their arms and kick their feet.

Girlz in The Pit

It's unfortunate. But we must consider it a fact of life that there are a lot of perverted-ass non-sex-havin'- punk-motherfuckers out there. They love going to shows because it gives them an opportunity to pinch a tit, grab an ass, or rub a crotch. The mosh pit is a chance for these bastards to interact with the opposite sex in ways that one-handed day dreaming and self-inflicted spankings cannot provide. With holes in their pockets and dicks in hand, they set upon the mosh pit foaming at the mouth with one goal in mind: coping a quick feel so that they may be satisfied until the next show. The bottom line is that females must always be respected in the pit. Most women are already intimidated, so why make it more difficult. But ladies, you have to help out! If some punk-motherfucker named Chester disrespects you, let somebody know right away and don't feel guilty. He's the asshole that accosted you! Let's see how much Chester likes to get touched with a fist or a boot or a bat. Since Chester likes to get his rocks off, I'll hold him down after the gig and we can try a game of testicular soccer. It's only a little different than pocket-pool.

Brothas In the Pit

The pit is successful in ways that S-training, cultural diversity seminars, sensitivity training, The Rainbow Coalition, and Affirmative Action programs are not. In the pit, people of all races come together to interact physically and intellectually. In the pit, all men and women are truly created equal. But I can't front and try to deny the fact that the situation becomes complicated when brothas enter the pit for the first time. See...back when slamdancing first started, Americans-With-Afros were at the roller-rink listening to P-Funk, Cameo, Rick James, and other stuff that white folks have recently begun to discover. If they weren't roller skating, they were beating somebody down with an empty bottle of curl activator for stepping on their new shoes. Thanks to bands like Fishbone, Living Color, and 24-7 Spyz, more and more black people were introduced to adrenaline music. When they first went to shows, however, they didn't know what to expect. All of a sudden, motherfuckers with green mohawks started running at them and the first thought was, "Oh shit! These white boyz are tryin' to get busy!" Being card-carrying members of an endangered species, you can't blame them for self-preserving instincts, which were to start swinging. When you think about it, brothas during the early days of the pit remind me of the Civil Rights Movement in reverse. A lot of white dudes had to get beat down before brothas realized that slamdancing was all about unity instead of violence. I was relieved when Public Enemy recorded songs with Anthrax and Sonic Youth because black folks got to see the mosh pit on MTV, instead of finding out the hard way. They finally accepted slamdancing as a fact when Ice-T took Body Count on the road with Lollapolooza and Onyx busted out with Slam!

Bouncers

Most bouncers are cool and they'd probably rather be in the pit instead of working. In fact, the manager probably has an ass-whoopin' coming for putting them on the schedule. In the pit, good bouncers are like referees. They keep violence from erupting and make sure that nobody gets hurt. Basically they keep things fair and take care of that one fool out of every hundred.

But at the same time, there are plenty of bouncers that take their job too seriously. When this happens they obstruct freeflowing movement in the pit. If you, a friend, or someone you know has been the victim of unfair bouncing, there is no time to seek legal counsel. Take matters in to your own hands! If you think you're down, you owe it to yourself, the band, and the basic principle of the mosh pit to make sure that no one gets booted from a show because she dared to take slamdancing to another level. Violence is always a last resort unless it's that one fool out of every hundred. Just remember, STAFF members are human too and there are enough cans of ass-whoop to go around.

People Who Always Get Beat Down In The Pit

Don't be one of those people who always gets beat down in the pit. It's usually a drunk guy named Bob, who goes to shows with Chester. However, instead of looking to cop a feel he looks for fights. Bob always manages to fuck with the wrong guy. The wrong guy is usually a dude named Jerry who is also looking for fights. Jerry has a few things working in his favor. First of all, he hasn't had as many beers as Bob. Second of all, when Jerry goes to shows, he rolls deep with everyone of his friends and ninety-percent of his extended family. No one in Jerry's crew has more than three teeth and they all like to fight. The final result is that Bob gets a Boot-Party and catches a bad case of Foot-In-The-Ass.

The other prime candidates for mosh-pit ass whippings are "No-Means-No" guys. Basically these are Sensitive-Pony-Tail-Men who don't fear the pit as much as their similarly coifed brothers. A pony-tail is a signal to remotely interested females, that they understand that, "No means no," if given a chance. If No-Means-No isn't wearing a Dead Kennedy's T-shirt, he's proudly sporting the T-shirt of the band that's playing. Although he usually wears black jeans all year around, he may be wearing some short shorts and long tube socks pulled all the way up to his knees. Since most No-Means-No guys go to gigs knowing that there is a can of ass-whoop with a pony-tail on it, the knee-high tube socks are a security measure. It's difficult for people to beat up on somebody who wears knee-high socks and keep a straight face. At any rate, the only reason why No-Means-No gets beat down in the pit is because he whines too goddamn much and gets on everybody's nerves. The crowd could be asleep and No-Means-No would start whining and asking people to quit slamming so hard. If he's not whining about the crowd, he's whining about the band playing too loud. If he's not whining about the band playing too loud, he's whining about them drinking too much beer. If he's not whining about the band drinking too much beer, he's whining about them using the word "FUCK" between songs. His famous last words are,"don't say fuck, say making love." In this day and age, the Sensitive-Pony-Tail/ No-Means-No act is old. After a few songs, people get fed up with his bullshit and No-Means-No gets pimp-slapped.

Beer

If you are old enough to drink beer in between sets, it's like Gatorade at half-time during a game of hoops with Michael Jordan. I know these things because not only do I know what it's like to dunk on Mike but I also know what it's like to be thirsty in the pit. I don't need water just because I shot some fool on the Mexican border. I need a Leini or a Rolling Rock goddamnit. Besides, drinkin' is my business and business is good.

The Art Of The Mosh Pit

Comprehending the art of the mosh pit requires common sense. In all truth, the art of the pit boils down to the limitations and boundaries that you define at any given moment. However, in this era of alternative musiocrity: Nirvana, Greenday, The Cranberries, Crash Test Dummies and Wheezer, the pit is vogue --- it's just another fashion statement. Alternative music fans who basically lived and died with Kurt Cobain are only going through the motions. If given a choice, they'd be smashing pumpkins and counting crows rather than throwing down in a real mosh pit. They don't really understand what the pit is all about so it's hard to establish any sort of solidarity. But this grim situation is only a temporary condition because new skool hip-hop knows what time it is. Besides, The Rollins Band and Fishbone aren't going anywhere any time soon. Angelo and Henry are for real. These homeboys will maintain the true spirit of the mosh pit all the way to the grave.

Alt-X