Slam Dancing (now generally referred to as moshing) is a style of dance whose participants push or slam into each other. It is most associated with aggressive music genres, such as hardcore punk and heavy metal. It is primarily done to live music, although it can be done to recorded music.
Many variations of moshing exist, such as thrashing, or the more extreme Wall of Death, and are typically done in an area in front of the stage which is referred to as the mosh pit or simply pit, though many mosh pits have been known to occur elsewhere, most notably the middle. In Wall of Death, participants are directed away from the center of the standing area by a member of the band until a large, rectangular area is cleared, and, upon the band beginning the next song; the two sides perpendicular to the stage sprint at each other and collide in the middle.
While moshing is seen as a form of positive feedback or expression of enjoyment, it has also drawn criticism over its dangerous nature. Injuries and a few deaths have been reported. However, it is generally agreed that moshers are not trying to harm one another, and that they follow an unwritten "moshing etiquette".Origins The term mosh came into use in the early 1980s American hardcore punk scene in Washington, D.C. Early on, the dance was frequently spelled mash in fanzines and record liner notes, but pronounced mosh, as in the 1982 song "Total Mash" by the D.C.-based hardcore band Scream. H.R. of the band Bad Brains, regarded as a band that "put moshing on the map,used the term mashin lyrics and in concert stage banter to both incite and to describe the aggressive and often violent dancing of the scene. To "mash it up" was to go wild with the frenzy of the music. Due to his Jamaican-accented pronunciation of the word, fans heard this as mosh instead.
By the 1980s, the term was appearing in print with its current spelling. By the time thrash metal band Anthrax used the term in their song "Caught in a Mosh", the word was already a mainstay of hardcore and thrash scenes. Through the mainstream success of bands like Anthrax, Nirvana and The Melvins, the term came into the popular vernacular.
From 1979 until the early 80's before the term moshing became popular, the term slam dancing was used to describe the same style of dance. No one knows for sure how slam dancing originated but the following 'urban legend' describes a style of dance called BOPPO that began in college towns of western Pennsylvania and spread to Manhattan in 1979.
According to the legend, four friends, Hat, Kuks (pronounced 'kooks'), Abe and Steve, from a small college in northwestern Pennsylvania introduced BOPPO at a party of starving actors and artists hosted by Steve's older sister on the west side of Manhattan. Abe and Hat, being large of body and strange of mind, suddenly, and without warning, charged at each other from opposite ends of the dance floor and allowed their bodies to literally slam into each other. Remaining upright and immediately drawing the attention of the other dancers, Hat and Abe immediately began frantically bouncing up and down while repeatedly knocking into each other. Several attractive actresses joined the fray and soon the entire party was boppo-ing. The style spread quickly throughout Manhattan with the moniker 'slam dancing' and morphed into 'moshing' when Abe moved to Washington DC later that same year.