Thursday, 21 May 2009

From "Crowd Safety Planning for Major Concert Events"

By Mick Upton.


Crowd surges are not the only problem that might be experienced. Cultural behaviour at rock concerts can be a major cause for concern. Moshing is an American term used to describe what seventies Punk Rock culture called slam dancing. Moshing is therefore a dance ritual during which people literally slam into each other, although it appears to be a violent action it is not intended to be. It can nevertheless result in the participants receiving cuts, bruises or more serious injuries such as broken bones. The act of moshing generally takes place in the "mosh pit". This term is used to describe the general area that moshing takes place and should not be confused with the area in front of stage known as the primary pit. A mosh pit can start spontaneously anywhere in the crowd and should therefore be regarded more as an activity and not an actual place. The term moshing is also often used in a broad sense now to refer to a number of other activities.

Crowd Surfing

Crowd Surfing is one of these activities, and it involves crowd members lifting an individual above the crowd so that the person can roll or swim their body over the heads of the crowd. Normally a surefer will move toward the stage with the intention of climing onto the stage to stage dive. People have been known to actually bring surfboards into a show for the purposes of crowd surfing. There have been numerous injuries recorded as a result of crowd surfing. These injuries have included neck and/or injuries to people that have been kicked in the head by the surfer, or spinal injuries caused as a result of the surfer falling, or being dropped onto the ground. There is an added danger in that a crowd collapse might then take place onto a fallen surfer causing an intolerable pressure load. There have been serious injuries reported as a result of crowd surfing. For example, Sara Jean Green wrote in the Seattle Times (2002) that the parents of 14-year-old Scott Stone reached an out of court settlement for permanent brain damage which it was claimed was the result of a crowd surfing incident in 1996. Green went on to claim that there had been 1,000 reported injuries from just 15 American concerts in 2001. In America there have also been allegations of sexual assault and even rape on female surfers who have been dragged down and stripped of their clothing by males in the crowd.

Stage Diving

Stage Diving is exactly what the term implies. It is the act of a performer or member of the audience diving from the stage into the crowd. The intention is then that the crowd will support that person above their heads while they crowd surf. Unfortunately there have been at least two fatal accidents due to stage diving. In 1994 a young man died at a club in New York as the result of what appears to have been a stage diving incident. It was alleged that a security man pushed the victim off of the stage, but the security denied the allegation and alleged that the victim was stage diving (Rogers et al 1996).

[For legal reasons, a sentence at the bottom of this page that appeared in earlier editions has been deleted.]


Pogoing is a seventies punk rock dance ritual, during which the crowd jumps up and down in unison, often giving gladiatorial salutes. The activity is still popular with a range of rock culture crowds. While this activity appears to be harmless, pogoing can present a problem at green field sites, particularly where there is a steep gradient toward the stage. After prolonged or heavy rain the field becomes very slippery and a mass of people all jumping up and down in unison can easily cause a dynamic surge similar to a landslide which might result in a crowd collapse.


Skanking is a Jamaican term originally used as a term for Reggae dance and then appropriated as a term for slam dancing, or as a prelude to crowd surfing. The term is now more likely to be used to describe a mosh pit activity where a circle forms within a crowd. The crowd then moves in a circular route while they continue to slam into each other. In some respects the circle resembles a North American Indian war dance, or in extreme cases, like a whirlpool. The size and duration of this rotating circle is dependent on the number of people drawn into it. Skanking has been known to cause a crowd collapse which, as has been previously stated, can lead to intolerable pressure loads being imposed on those unfortunate enough to be at the bottom of a pile of bodies [...]

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