After a long week of midterms and never-ending papers, it’s understandable that students want to blow off steam and party. But partying shouldn’t mean getting thrown to the ground, feeling claustrophobic and unable to breathe and getting hurled from one person to another. Unfortunately, this has been my experience in mosh pits.
Before I go on, I can imagine what some of you are thinking. Don’t be a buzzkill, mosh pits are fun and wild and I’m just being paranoid. Okay, I hear you. I know that many find mosh pits to be a wild, kinetic experience filled with dancing in disorderly freedom. But you can’t argue they are safe. I also would say that many of you defending mosh pits aren’t 5’1” like me and don’t know the fear of being trapped in the center of a crowd, unable to speak and shoved into someone else’s body being thrown from one person to another.
Moshing is a mixed bag. While some may find a feeling of amazement in dancing in the crowd, others report a feeling of overwhelming terror. One of their biggest concerns is the risk of being separated from their friend groups. In the normal party context, if you are separated, you can use your phone to contact your friends, scan the crowd and leave if you don’t feel safe. In mosh pits, you can barely move your arms, let alone get your phone to call your friends and look for a safe space to leave. This is an unnerving and unacceptable situation to have at 5C parties.
In general, there are inherent problems that come with moshing. Since the crowd turns in on itself, you become shoved right up next to strangers. For many, this removes personal space, and then in turn removes bodily autonomy — creating an avenue for unwanted touching or grabbing. Also, if you’re short, you’re unable to get out of the crowd or advocate for yourself, which is an unnerving feeling. I remember being thrown into one person and then shoved into another, desperately trying not to fall on the ground or grab onto someone’s jacket so at least I’d stop being hurled around like a football.
ُThe disregard for consent is another problematic aspect of the mosh pit culture. As people are put right up next to each other, it creates a hyper-charged environment for unwanted touching and grabbing and undermines a sense of accountability among those trapped in this party-moshing vortex.
Claremont McKenna College has previously taken a stance against crowding and moshing, for instance using a megaphone at the Monte Carlo party to break up the crowd around the champagne line or shutting the music off when parties became engulfed in the mosh pits. But these measures do not address underlying issues behind moshing.
When the college works to keep students in tight boundaries in the name of COVID-19 safety — to check IDs and maintain the on-campus germ bubble — it often ends up creating a pressure cooker for moshing and chaos. Not only do people tend to successfully sneak in their friends despite the presence of fences, but shoving people up close often overcrowds parties and increases the risk of COVID-19 transmission. The increased health and safety risk from moshing seems more concerning than the idea of an off-campus guest sneaking in in the absence of barriers.
There has to be a way for us to find a balance between hosting fun parties and keeping them safe. I’m not trying to be a party pooper, or say that moshing can never happen at the Claremont Colleges. Rather, I’m advocating for a way to host parties that addresses this moshing problem rather than employing gates and barriers merely to increase safety risk. There has already been a reported incident of a student passing out from the moshing, and I myself have felt unsafe many times. If someone is leaving parties terrified, even with bruises all over their body from being thrown in the mosh pit, that doesn’t seem synonymous with a “fun college experience.”
If you and your friends go into a mosh pit at a party, make sure to hold your friends’ hands, check on everyone’s safety and stay in the group to prevent accidental separation. Keep yourself and others accountable so that parties remain a fun environment, not an unsafe one.
Anna Tolkien CM ’24 is a literature and film dual major. She loves her pugs, creative writing and iced coffee.