Originally referred to as “slam dancing,” moshing began to take form thanks to the chaotic environment of hardcore punk in the early 1980s. The DC and Southern California scenes featured bands like Bad Brains and Black Flag who brought a new level of energy and attitude to your average rock gigs. Instances like the Circle Jerks’ appearance on the Decline of the Western Civilization I or Fear‘s noteworthy performance on Saturday Night Live might have been the mainstream’s first glimpse at the sport. Now you can’t go to see (most) concerts without seeing a mosh pit.
Love it or hate it, much of the fad can be attributed to the musical diversity of the 1990s. Not only was hardcore punk many stages evolved by now, but metal had also fully blossomed and gone mainstream. We also had rap-rock, grunge, industrial, and nu-metal dominating the charts. The mosh was now more than just an act of aggression. It was a movement. And stage diving and crowd surfing were now a “thing.”
Suddenly, the pit became dangerous. People started getting hurt. like in the circle pits at Woodstock ‘99. Thrashers at Lamb of God shows. The so-called Wall of Death at Ozzfest. Parents got concerned. And then (naturally) the media got concerned too. Today we are able to revisit these reactions on the Internet with some hindsight.
Explore these 90s newscasts that depict a dangerous world of aggression, injury, and a mosh pit.
“Moshing is addicting.” ‘Hard Copy’ special videotaped at Doug Weston’s Troubadour.
Jimmy Drescher (Murphy’s Law) recites the rules of the pit on ‘The Faith Daniels Show.’
Local new story asks “Is moshing here to stay?”
Marilyn Manson gets interrogated on ‘The Phil Donahue Show,’ 1995.
MTV News’ “Social History of the Mosh” from 2002.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
The Physics of Mosh Pits
There’s a goat in the mosh pit!
A young Jon Stewart in mosh pit at Dead Kennedys show