Should Mosh Pits Be Banned?

Ryanne Scott of The Gazette reports that concertgoers say exhilaration, excitement and chaos are to be found in wading to the front of the audience and throwing themselves into a mosh pit with other fans who love metal and punk music.

The pit thrives on physical contact. Moshers enter jumping and thrashing around, all while slamming into and bouncing off each other to the music. Pits are aggressive but social: It's unwritten law to help people to their feet if they fall and it's not uncommon for moshers to pat each other on the back or even hug at a song's end as mutual recognition of endurance and toughness.

But not everyone walks away from a pit unscathed. Some don't walk away at all.

Paul Wertheimer, a concert-safety expert, said fans often equate moshing with a roller-coaster ride: There's a sense of danger but it isn't real. This false sense of safety gets fans trampled, seriously injured or killed.

"Old-school rock fans just took it. The new school believes they have a right to a great concert that is reasonably safe — punk, heavy metal, rap, whatever," Wertheimer said. "There has to be a standard of care for rock fans, period. No individual can protect themselves against 10,000 other people."

Wertheimer's Chicago-based Crowd Management Strategies compiles an annual injuries and deaths survey from news and police reports, lawsuits, industry sources and public-information documents. Sampling last year's most dangerous events, Wertheimer surveyed 31 concerts in eight countries and counted 21 deaths, 4,567 injuries, 2,683 arrests and about $524,000 in property damage.

Still, he asserts mosh-pit culture could be made reasonably safe if the people who plan and manage concerts took common-sense steps to protect fans from those who use the pit's anonymity to injure people or sexually assault women. Read more.

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