Kathryn Hore - Writer

For want of a mosh


Note to self:

Tie a double-knot in the laces of the day’s shoe of choice next time. And do it *before* entering the festival size mosh-pit. ‘Cos, you know, it just totally sux to lose one’s shoes half way through the Hilltop Hoods.

Oh, okay, so that’s a bit of a misleading misnomer just to draw you in (read: a big fat lie.) I didn’t actually lose my shoes at this year’s Big Day Out back in the heat of January. But it did come oh so close, what with the boots of a thousand others continually landing on any lose bit of shoe material from undone laces to unravelling canvas sides, until my favourite summer festival footwear were almost left behind. See, there’s no rescuing anything below waist level once you’ve pushed your way down front of the main stage at a music festival populated by tens of thousands and you’re in the process of getting extremely up close and personal with at least several hundred complete strangers.

Ah, the festival mosh pit. You gotta love it, don’t cha? Well, unless you hate it of course.

Whichever camp you pitch your tent in, though, you can’t deny a festival mosh is its own creature. An amorphous beast of sweating limbs and slick skin, body heat and pulsating, bounding beats, all jumping and landing and crashing and wave upon wave of unstoppable human ocean. It’s primordial, it’s physical, it’s a thousand bodies crammed together in a mix of sweat, head, skin, hands, hair, elbow, heads, legs, fingers, all moving, bounding, waving, crashing together, because there can be no movement against this beast. You can not try to fight it, you can only go with it, let it take you onwards…

What else can I say? A mosh pit is the best way to swap bodily fluids with strangers without getting intimate.

In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m a big fan of a good, hard mosh and not only because it’s one of the few places left in this world where a woman of my age can rub up against lots of semi-naked young men without looking pervy. And sure, there’s perhaps an argument to be made that I am, well, getting a tad too old for this kind of thing and I really should be growing up and acting my age and all that, to which I only have one thing to say:

Like, whatev.

(See, I can sound like the youngsters, I can, really… only I’m fairly sure any such youngsters would not stop to rewrite “whateve-” five times with different spelling combinations just to be sure they spelt their colloquialisms right, so maybe I am getting too old for this after all, hmmm…)

I don’t get out to live music as much as I used to, if only because that whole bizarre “adult-life” thang tends to get in the way these days. But when I do, I’m just not one for standing on the sidelines. Which serves to embarrass my dearest considerably when he’s trying to take serious photos of rocking punk bands, but I’m edging my way step by step into the middle of the slammers front-and-centre. Still, I must confess, I don’t really do the smaller gig/pub sized mosh-pits anymore. When’s there’s only half a dozen of you desperately attempting to create a mosh where one isn’t naturally occurring, the fact you’re in your mid-thirties does tend to stick out, not to mention give the young ones about you the freaks.  So for the kiddies sake, I stand back now, so they can have a turn.  But I did spend my twenties slamming into my fellows with a wilful glee, and I enjoyed ever second of it.

Look, I know how it appears from the outside. (Oh, how I know, considering I’m so often stuck there now *sigh*.) Scary, perhaps. Angry. Aggressive even. Dare I say violent? Oooooh.

But this ain’t King Street outside the nightclubs, you know. There’s no fighting, kicking, punching. There’s no drunken machoism, no chest-thumping. No desire to hurt anyone or prove anything. Oh contrare, my bewildered dears, for you can’t mosh with only one, you need your fellows, you need the crowd. The more in it, the better; these things are communal. It’s all about working together, moving together, the growing physical energy of the crowd.

It’s a big mass dance, that’s all. A group endeavour, a mass movement of bodies in time to the music, and if there’s some highly physical pushing and bumping into one another and a bit dragging down to the ground, well, it’s all in a friendly, working-together spirit. Even at the most metal of metal gigs, at the hardest-core of the hardcore gigs, I only ever found hands ready to pull me back up again if I hit the floor, and grins on the faces of new found friends in the mosh.

‘Tis something to remember, you non-mosh types, as you stand to the side tut-tutting with such dark disapproval and shaking your head at the metal-heads or punk-rockers or other black-clad rough looking youths slamming into each other up front. From the outside it looks all very dark, but the middle of a mosh is one of the few places on this earth where everybody focussed on the same thing, in the same way, with the same passion, and encouraging of each other from start to finish.

Anyway, while I gave up on the smaller gig pits a few years back, the festivals still offer just enough camouflage for the mid-thirties chick with a mosh-pit addiction to get her rocks off. So that’s what I do every summer, head out with my sweaty, panting, music loving fellows to join the beast and become one with that human ocean and its unstoppable, crashing waves, it’s tidal strength and energy.

It’s not for everyone. It’s downright frightening for some. But it is for me.

But now, for another year, my personal festival season is over. I’ve no more brightly coloured tickets pinned to the fridge waiting for their day to come. No more days slashed out of the diary devoted to getting hot and sweaty with hundreds of others to a killer backing track.

That’s it, folks. Time to go into hibernation for the long, cold winter…

…hopefully to come out the other side of it into a new summer, hopefully lasting one more year, one more festival season. Starving off that growing up thing just that bit longer, always ready to head straight back into the mosh…

Ahhh, see you next summer, kiddies.  Watch out for me.  I’ll be the old chick showing you up right down the front.

‘Till then,


1 Comment

  1. Angela

    Really love the last couple of paragraphs, some real gems in there!

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