10 rules of mosh pit etiquette

Categories: PSA
All illustrations by Dave Watt

In my years attending punk and metal shows, often as the only one with a pen and pad in the middle, I've noticed that there are a few unwritten rules when participating in a mosh pit. The seemingly amorphous fits of aggression that explode from the center of certain crowds have some unspoken guidelines to keep in mind if you wish to engage properly with the spirit of violence.

Here are our 10 rules of mosh pit etiquette.

See also:
Top 10 rules of the rave: A guide to underground dance party etiquette

10. Pick up the fallen
It's understood across the board that a pit stops to help up those that hit the floor so nobody gets trampled. Stop movement and lift them up, pat them on the back, keep going. Despite how it may look to outsiders, you're not trying to kill anyone. Several fists to the chest will suffice. Try not to push the fallen back into the pit, they'll hop back in if they want.


9. Hold lost items above your head
If you happen upon a shoe, a pair of glasses, a coat, whatever might seem halfway important to the person who dropped it, it's best practice to hold it above your head until it is claimed. A simple act of humility for someone else's stuff; there but for the grace of Lamb of God go mine. I've dropped countless pairs of glasses onto the ground beneath a mosh pit, and not once can I recall a moment where I wasn't aided in retrieving them, even at Odd Future. Fans of lyrics that embrace wanton destruction actually gave a shit when I started to act like Velma Dinkley, and I gained just that much more faith in humanity. There's definitely a time limit on how long I'm gonna hold your stupid shoe above my head though, so if you lose something grab it fast.

8. Playing the sideline comes with responsibility
Occupying the very edge of the pit means you're either about to jump back in or you're keeping the line where it is. This spot is for people who want somebody to shove but are interested in playing defense for the moment. Don't instigate in this position; you're keeping the action confined. If you'd like to be the one pushing people, hop back in, otherwise it's your place to keep the pit from impeding too much on those outside who simply want to catch the show.

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Mildred Bee
Mildred Bee

This would have been good ten/fifteen years ago before macho, bro-dudes got into it and ruined moshing for everyone. Now, all of this is just meaningless and I like to throw more than half-full cans of beer at dumb meathead singers who start throwing those around before a song even starts, lol.

Matthew D. Vinge
Matthew D. Vinge

I'm a retired veteran of the pit :) This is a solid list. Dude knows his mosh etiquette \m/

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