The Number One Rule Of A Mosh Pit

So we all know that mosh pits are lawless hells of raging limbs and tromping boots shattering all interlopers foolish enough to wade into the bloody purge, right? Each veteran has a tale. There's the old schooler who was there — actually there — getting smashed in the jaw by an elbow in '87 when Slayer performed "Raining Blood" on tour for the first time. There's the ultra-new schooler who accidentally flattened some poor creature during Lorna Shore's last "To the Hellfire" breakdown in '21. Whoops! Sorry, broheme. 

And then there's the kinder, truer, less hyperbolic side of things. Maybe you were there at Resurrection Fest in 2019 lifting a dude in a wheelchair above the crowd so he could have the experience of crowd surfing at least once in his life, as seen on Reddit. Or you escorted an elderly "metalhead mama" in a wheelchair safely through the pit so she could enjoy the one and only concert she's ever attended, as the New York Post depicts. Lawless and violent indeed.

Metalheads will shrug at all this and say, "Yep." To those in the know, there's no contradiction between letting loose and staying mindful of others — provided you grok the rules. And what are the rules? Accept the risks of the pit if you're capable, and steer clear if you aren't; immersion equals acceptance of consequences. But if you're bigger than others, be careful. And most importantly, the number one rule: if someone falls down, get there ASAP. 

Protect the vulnerable and have fun

To the wider world, metal is supposed to be the music of disaffected teens or the enraged and middle-aged who can no longer wrap their metal-studded leather jackets around their beer bellies. This tired, old stereotype sticks no matter that study after study finds metal listeners to be the happiest of people. Folks who stick to radio-friendly pop might stammer in disbelief about how there could possibly be "rules" in a mosh pit. It's all chaos and madness, right? That's a big (type-O) negative. There are very universal, very unbreakable, and very common-sense rules that metal concert-goers follow.

Togetherness is the key tenet of the mosh pit. Stay respectful, and keep an eye out for those who need help — falling in a mosh pit can be quite dangerous. In fact, take a cue from singers like Zach de la Rocha, Chester Bennington, Matt Heafy, and many more who've stopped shows to rescue fans, as Loudwire shows. But before things get to that point, be careful of those in the crowd who are more vulnerable. This is true regardless of age, gender, or anything. It should also go without saying, but never harm someone intentionally. And if you get dinged, don't flare up. Everyone is there to have fun, and everyone needs to help everyone else do that. 

Different ways to mosh

Common sense mosh pit rules like "be respectful" are one thing, but other mosh pit rules can't be gleaned without experience. For instance, the entire arena floor is not a mosh pit. Pits tend to form around the middle of a venue behind those nearest the stage and between those on the sides. Joining a mosh pit is 100% voluntary, and no one should be dragging another person in.

There are also different types of pits. The typical mosh pit where people bounce around and bash into each other is called a circle pit. Sometimes, circle pits — depending on the song being played — evolve into a run-around-the-middle, maypole-dance kind of thing rather than slam dancing. A wall of death is a different kind of pit entirely, where the crowd splits in half and then races toward each other at full speed. Vocalists often call for the wall of death, like Gojira frontman Joe Duplantier at 2018's Pol'and'Rock festival. Pogoing, contrarily, involves jumping up and down where you stand without smashing into other folks. And then, of course, there's the familiar crowd-surfing. Many mid-size and larger shows have a gap between the crowd and the stage that's monitored by security. Crowd surfers get carried above the crowd — toward the stage — and are deposited into this gap. But no matter what, the same main rule applies: take care of each other and watch out for those who fall.