City of Boston to ban mosh pits, slam dancing, and hardcore at concerts

Boston has long been known for its unedrground punk scene where bands and fans engaged in a high energy music experience. This may be about to change. Police have “cracked down” on the pits.

A slam pit or mosh pit typically takes place in front of the stage where fans takes out their aggression in a form of expression and dance (yes, dance) while listening to the music played by some of their favorite bands. The pit is a rough area. People in the pit get pushed and shoved while they do their own pushing and shoving. People close to the pit tend to stand at the ready, arms up and legs braced to push the odd mosher back into the fray. It is well known that you enter the pit at your own risk.

However, there are codes in the pit. If someone falls to the ground, everyone around them helps them up. The environment, although it may seem like madness, is relatively controlled. Unfortunately, law enforcement does not look beyond the mass of throbbing bodies. In the city of Boston, they are “cracking down” on the pits.

Police recently cited a city club for allowing violent mosh pit dancing and vowed a crackdown on what they called “dangerous behavior” and a “public safety hazard.”

The Boston Herald reports that police cited the House of Blues for a license violation because of a mosh pit that broke out during a Feb. 21 show by Flogging Molly.

Police say 60 concertgoers engaged in slam dancing.

Police say the dance violated safety rules and the club was cited because security did not intervene. The club has agreed to put up signs that say mosh pits are banned.

The House of Blues is not to blame here. The police forced the club to ban mosh pits as well as banning mosh pits in the city of Boston.

The Red Chord vocalist, Guy Kozowyk, said the following:

 “The city of Boston needs to stay out of it,” said Guy. “I understand cracking down on fighting, but (moshing) is a form of expression. It’s ridiculous they’re cracking down on this now. There are plenty of other problems.”

The police claimed the problem was that the security of the club did not intervene when the pit started. They recognize that dancing is a first amendment right, but even though no injuries were reported at the Flogging Molly concert, claim the scene was too violent:

 “Dancing is a First Amendment right, but the behavior itself is a violation, especially when it becomes dangerous and a public safety hazard,” Boston police spokeswoman Officer Nicole Grant said.

The pit has been around for decades. In many cases the band members will join the pit themselves or do a stage dive into the crowd. The people in the pit are there by choice and are enjoying themselves. This does not change the fact that there was a hearing after the Flogging Molly show:

 A hearing was subsequently held at City Hall, and the House Of Blues must now post an illuminated sign indicating that moshing is not permitted.

Not surprisingly, members of the local punk and metal communities aren’t happy about the crackdown.

I can understand trying to cut down on injuries or fights, but you see more fights outside a dance night on Lansdowne Street [where the House Of Blues in question is located] than you see inside a hardcore show,” said Brian Fair of the Massachusetts metal band Shadows Fall.

City officials cannot remember another incident where a club was cited for a mosh pit, but police have vowed they will make sure the pit does not continue. It’s a good thing all other crime in the city has been solved.

The crackdown on pits will be difficult to enforce as Metal Sucks discusses:

 The idea of cracking down on moshing is, frankly, ludicrous. First of all, it’s almost impossible to enforce — like I said, the few shows I’ve been to where there have been “no moshing” signs, venue security did a so-so job of upholding the rule, basically because it’s not practical. How the hell do you get a substantial group of people who are all running around like mad and smashing into one another to stop? The phrase “Excuse me, can I speak to you for a quick sec?” isn’t gonna get their attention, and even if you grab them, it may take a moment for them to register that you’re not just another mosher. So then what do you do? Eject the entire pit from the venue?

There is a FaceBook page that has been started as well as a Change.org petition:

This is a total violation of our rights as free people to enjoy the music and scene that we have loved and grew up in our entire lives ! We know what it means to mosh and the danger it may entail, who are they to control how we express ourselves and have a good time ? Stand up brothers and sisters and be heard ! Don’t let our family up in Boston suffer because someone up there still thinks that rock n roll is the Devil !!! Unite for the scene and the love we have for it … if we can get enough people together and this is not resolved in a timely fashion, I shall organize a rally so we can show the world we will not be broken ! MUCH LOVE !

Regardless of whether or not you join the pit yourself, do you think a certain style of dancing should be banned? When musicians cannot get the energy they normally get from the pit in Boston, they will stop performing there. This will cost Boston club owners money.

Where is the line drawn? This week it’s the mosh pit, next week it could be your style of dancing.

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