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Life Lessons in the Moshpit

Photo by Roger Kisby/Getty Images

Those suffering from the stresses of modern life could learn valuable lessons from moshpits at their local rock and metal shows, says a BBC commentator.

Joe Dunthorne has taken his turn in seething crowds of fans, and hasn’t always emerged unscathed.

But he insists the self-policing environment has much to teach anyone who finds it difficult to deal with day-to-day social issues.

In a BBC Radio 4 podcast Dunthorne recalls his first concert, a Green Day show when he was 13. He says: “My sister’s boyfriend taught me how to crowdsurf. Linking has hands together to make a step, he helped launch me into the crowd.

“I was lobbed towards the stage and finally fell head-first into the densest part of the crowd. What a shame to die under the feet of strangers before Green Day had even played their new single.

“Moments later I found the strangers held back the crowd to give me space. Others were pulling me upright, dusting me down, and one man was encouraging me to join him in some air-drumming. For the next hour I was part of a community.”

Dunthorne accepts “it was not all friendly or painless” but insists “it was underpinned by a spirit of mutual tolerance.” He continues: “It’s my believe that we ought to apply a little more moshpit psychology to our day-to-day lives.

“In punk crowds it’s considered absolutely standard procedure to push someone away when they are annoying. If you’re ska-dancing with elbows like scythes it’s a given you’ll get shoved. If you go on someone’s shoulders, expect abuse from those whose view you’re blocking.

“If you faint, however, those around you will lift you above their heads and pass your limp body forward to the security guys.

“These are self-policing zones. Nobody gets too upset by things that are annoying, and nobody gets too angry when they’re told to shut the hell up.”

That attitude is the perfect antidote to a world suppressed by passive-aggressive notes, noisy neighbours, troublesome flatmates, silent suffering and fear of complaining, Dunthorpe believes.

In the world beyond the moshpit he admits: “I seethe but I never communicate. But in the rock crowd, when someone stamps on my toes, I say: ‘Woah, mate, you’re standing on my feet.’”

He finishes: “We should look to rock concerts for our social values,” adding: “They hand out free earplugs at the bar.”

(Classic Rock Magazine)

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