How bad hygiene increases danger
Ordinary mosh pits are good, clean, sweaty fun. You get to jump around like an idiot and expend vast amounts of energy listening to your favourite music alongside a bunch of similar idiots. It’s a little bit smelly in there but it’s not really that bad until you get out and you’re drenched in other people’s sweat that you go “if I wasn't so tired I'd want to throw up”.
Owing to Dream Theater coming down I was exposed to another kind of moshpit: The nerd pit. In order to explain what happens here, I have to explain the physics of an ordinary moshpit.
In a normal 'pit, everyone is pushing forward and there’s generally very little room between you and everyone around you. All you have to do is make sure you don’t go too far sideways and you’re sweet. You’re pretty much held vertical by people on every side of you, so balance is not an issue. If someone pushes back (which usually happens if someone’s had enough) there are people behind you or just behind the pit who will push forward, hard, to make sure nothing goes wrong.
Friendly. Also, just behind the pit and the people pushing forward is a small gap and a bunch of people just standing there. This is, amazingly, the most dangerous part of the pit. This is the point where there’s enough room for a circle pit to form. A circle pit is a little gap within which insane people throw their limbs at one another. If you get a black eye from a moshpit, it’s probably in the circle. The general guide is, if you’re right next to a circle, you throw people who are already inside back into the pit, unless they want out. This stops the circle from injuring people outside the circle.
Sounds downright civilised, right? And you’d be right. It is! Nerd pits, however, aren’t so civil. First, in a nerd pit everyone stands back a fair bit more, creating a lot more room. It kinda makes sense, since nerds don’t bathe as much as everyone else, they really do pang and you want to stay away from their frizzy orange excuse for metal hair. They also don’t push forwards, which is bad for both room and balance. You generally have enough room to fall over or otherwise hurt yourself. Crowd-surfing also becomes more dangerous (“ow my spleen” as opposed to “shit I lost my car keys”). A lot of them also think it’s a great idea to record a video or take a picture, which makes things quite bad, since you don’t want to ruin their picture and it generally takes the energy away from the people moshing.
Second, when a circle does form, the nerds don’t push to keep the people in the circle inside. They just back up and start pushing people who are moshing around them, which is everywhere, since a circle can now form anywhere instead of behind the moshpit proper.
So it’s stinky, unsafe, and generally doesn’t have a lot of energy, unless you’re right at the front.