where-o-where was the first mosh pit..

…seen? where/when did this phenomenon see its beginning?

A friend of mine says NY,NY he spent some time in NY so of course everything is NY this and NY that.

I was surfing the net one day and overheard on the TV in the background that it started in Los Angeles.(I wasn’t paying too close attention thats why I mention surfing) So I say L.A.

Please help a guy who wants to rub his buddy’s smug I-wanna-be-from-NY-and-everything-cool-started-in-NY face in it…

I heard the 1st one was during an early Black Flag concert in NYC…

I thought it was in Detroit, thought I forget who the band was. I think there was/is a club that encouraged it.

I have no evidence, but I was a punk in San Francisco in the very early 1980s, and I do remember a mosh pit evolution. Initially, the mosh pit was just a place for friendly pogo-ing and shoving. No elbows, and if somebody got knocked over, they got picked up right away. It was all very friendly (except that we used to bang into the hippie fans, which wasn’t very nice of us, but again, we weren’t out to hurt anybody. And we were punk as fuck). Comparing bruises at the end of the night was part of our teen punk bonding ritual.

I seem to remember that modern-day moshing began when the second-wave of L.A. punk bands started coming up. By second-wave I mean the bands that were slightly different in style from bands like X, The Bags, Fear, Catholic Discipline, the Germs (these were more akin to old-school New York and London punk). Bands like Black Flag, TSOL, and especially the Circle Jerks had a very different boy-energy, and I remember moshing changed when they came to SF.

If I had to trace modern-day moshing to a particular band, it would have to be the Circle Jerks. They were from Huntington Beach; we called them, and they called themselves, “HBs”, and there was a particular HB style of dress (which, for a while, was pretty much just a bandanna worn as a headband). There’s an old Circle Jerks line drawing that shows proper moshing form: body bent over, and elbows angled out to strike right and left. This is when we started leaving the clubs with fat lips rather than bruises. Stage diving was a slightly later invention.

Though I am often quick to agree that many of the most enduring forms of pop culture are rooted in New York, I am pretty certain that this one is not, and I would bet what little money I have on it. It makes sense to me, though, that the first New York moshing incident occurred at a Black Flag concert, and this seems to support the argument that moshing as we know it started in L.A.

A good source may or may not be the crowd scenes in Penelope Spheeris’s documentary, The Decline of Western Civilization–this might still be too early in the evolution, though. The best evidence, though, would come either from someone in the Circle Jerks, or Black Flag, or someone who was in L.A. at the time.

Hope this helps. I’ll look forward to hearing what other people remember.

You might say it started with Sid Vicious… at least he was one of the first people to force others to physically interact in the crowd.
I’m trying to remember the film Urgh… A Music War. Seem I recall some stage diving but not too much “moshing”. This would have been around 1980.
One other thing. To the best of my, admittedly, addled memory. I don’t recall it being called “moshing” or there being a “mosh pit” until perhaps the advent of Lollapalooza. <adopting a cranky old man voice> In my day… back when I was seeing bands like Circle Jerks, they called it “slam dancing”… there was a “slam crowd”… caint remember no “slam pit” though… cough, cough, wheeze

I remember it always being called “slam dancing” as well.
I’m pretty sure the word “mosh” can be traced back to the Bad Brains.

Yes, yes, yes: slam dancing. Ah, those were the days. Apparently, vl and grendel, my brain is quite addled as well.

Cough. Wheeze. Sigh.

man, if I had to bet, it would be LA. Pre-dated Decline and Fall as well as Urgh by a long shot. Hell, Cheech and Chong’s Up in Smoke featured IIRC the Dills in the battle of the bands. I’d have to see it again, but certainly it was an agitated crowd if not an outright slam pit. That was filmed in 1977 or 1978.

The Germs were in the first wave and there was definately slamming involved and stage dives. No pogo here, nosirreebob.

The second wave of LA bands were always pretty wild as Kathij points out. Decline and Fall depicts them pretty well. Circle Jerks had on their albumn covers the prototypical slammer dude, with a single spur, the “cholo” bandana over a skin head, big black motorcycle boots, and I can’t remember what all. Dead Kennedy’s always had a crowd of slammers, and often rookies that learned slamming from Chips or Quincy or Class of 1984

I will give due to NY in that the Bad Brains were pretty wild. they didn’t make it to the West Coast until 1982. Hunting Rod was a wild guy that would run off the stage and just keep running in mid air through the crowd. I don’t think the Bad Brains were even in existence early enough to claim inventing slamming.

“The Dills” as in The Dils, as in Chip and Tony Kinman, I Hate the Rich, and Class War, and Mr. Big? As in one of the greatest SF punk bands of all time? See, I still get all excited. I’ve never seen Up in Smoke but will have to check it out.

Thanks for the correction. It’s really frightening to me how blurred my memory has gotten. I think that in SF there were different audience participation styles for different bands. But I definitely remember the Dead Kennedys before slam dancing, and if X gathered a slam crowd it was much later than the Germs. At least up North.

And re: the HBs/Circle Jerks, yeah: motorcycle boots and cholo style (the latter also had a big influence up North). It’s all coming back to me.

I remember it being called a mosh pit in NYC circa 1987. (And what occurred in the mosh pit was called slam dancing.) This was at punk shows like D.O.A. and the Descendants. I think you’re probably correct about moshing going mainstream at Lollapalooza, though.

I had always heard (hearsay! no cite!) slam dancing started when punks doing the pogo bumped into each other. Johnny Rotten claimed in the movie The Filth and the Fury that the pogo started when Sid Vicious, who was short, was trying to see the band over the crowd by jumping up and down.

But I have no doubt that the modern “mosh” first evolved during the Golden Age of Hardcore in CA.

[geezer voice]It was going on in 1977 in London. Not that I was there, I was in junior high school in Podunk Utah. I first heard of slam dancing in 1977, when the Sex Pistols did their american tour. Later, It was an assured way to get kicked out of a highschool dance. I never heard the term "mosh"until 1987 or so, but “Slam dancing” was around maybe ten years before that. [/geezer voice]

I don’t know if it was a London punk invention, or if it started at Iggy pop shows or at CBGBs in NYC. I do know that slam dancing started in the 70s and I’ve seen film of London punks doing it in 1977. It turned mean when the metal/punk crossover thing happened in the mid 80s. Before that, nobody got hurt, nobody threw elbose and if you got knocked down somebody would pick you up.

When did Anthrax do that ‘Caught in a Mosh’ song (may or may not be the actual title)?

I heard of slam dancing long before I heard of moshing. Slam dancing was more of a punk thing, and moshing was more metal, and wasn’t as violent, it was just banging your head in unison, sometimes with full body movement and lurching around, but no real attempt to hurt anyone. I know that by the early 90s people were getting violent in the mosh pit, to the point of actually throwing punches (though usually not at peoples faces).

elbows, not elbose!:smack:

On a related note, stage diving seems to have been invented by Iggy Pop in the late 1960s. According to Stooges guitarist/bassist Ron Asheton, once audiences figured out what was going on they would usually get out of the way and let Iggy hit the floor rather than catch him. Then they’d often kick him or throw their beer on him. Asheton says some people actually saved their last beers of the evening for this purpose.

Those kids in the '60s had no manners at all!

I think it’s definitely fair to say that slam dancing started as the result of lots of excited punks, crowded together, and jumping up and down. I started going out to punk clubs in 1980, and we deliberately smashed into each other while we were jumping. That’s how we knocked each other down.

If I had to make up a technical definition of slam dancing, though, I would have to say that it does not belong in the “oops, I knocked you over, heh-heh” category, but as a very deliberate, smashing-with-both-elbows version previously described in postings about the Circle-Jerks-L.A. sub-sub-culture. It could actually get quite vicious (no pun on Sid), and there’s even a particular kind of footwork (which often included kicking)–it was almost as carefully choreographed as “legitimate” dance forms.

Slamming evolved into something different (maybe defined by band-followings and geographical locations), and I think it’s evolution happened as punk became mainstream. I remember around 82, there was a whole new college-kids-home-for-summer crowd that came out, and the days of friendly smashing were fully over. Metal and punk were still totally separate at that point, but not for long.

Did we answer the original question about mosh pits, or have we just made it more complicated? Maybe, Tony, there IS no simple answer. But it seems you’ve got enough evidence backing up the L.A. argument to make a good case against NY.

[hijack] Is anyone else just infuriated every time Johnny Rotten opens his fricking mouth?[/hijack]


1987, and yes, that’s the title. I think it was on “Among the Living.”


Answered quite well, Thank you

Yes I showed my friend your post and rubbed his face in it, HA!

ahh but it wasn’t as fun as I thought it would be he just sorta said “hrumph ok” :confused: :rolleyes: :smack:

Glad to hear it had the desired effect. There’s are few things finer than winning an argument (actually, that’s not true, but it sure is fun to be able to say “told you so”).

I wouldn’t be too disappointed by his response. Considering the source, it sounds like the marker of a great victory on your part.