I believe in mosh pits.
I believe in a mass of excited fans crammed together in a small space to raise their fists in unison to the best music in the world.
I have experienced more sincere, demonstrative love in the pit at the shows of my now-favorite punk rock band Gogol Bordello than anywhere else I have searched. Participating in their raucous, spirited shows has renewed my faith in people and in music, and it has changed my life.
When I went to my first show on June 9, 2006, I was depressed, artistically blocked, and confused about where my life was going. Who knew that the thick Ukrainian accent of the band’s charismatic front man Eugene Hutz would embolden me, that the accordion, the violin, the guitars, and the two masked women zooming around the stage in cabaret outfits with drums and washboards would transport me.
For nearly three hours, squeezed in from all sides—jumping, sweating, screaming, pumping my fist—I forgot about being depressed. When I fell sideways and backwards into a messy pile of strangers’ sweaty limbs—a body under me, another body sprawled on top—it was rough and painful and felt oh-so-glorious. When I reached my hands up, someone strong who I would never see again pulled me safely to my feet.
My love affair with mosh pits and their people, with the punk-rock circus that is Gogol Bordello was only just beginning.
Now at every show, I go as far and as deep into the pit as I can, into the tightest, hottest place, and I stay there—a citizen among citizens. When the guy next to me with the jet-black mohawk loses a sneaker in the mayhem, my cohorts and I create a wide protective circle until he finds it, because he would do the same for us.
And when a body arrives overhead, I help push it along, because I believe in helping a comrade make her brave way to the source of the sound. I use others’ shoulders to jump as high as I can, and they use mine.
The inevitable minor injuries that I walk away with remind me that whatever might slam into me in this life, I will be able to take it, and plenty of people will be around to help me back up.
Being in the pit is about having a romance with humanity, with the multitude of earnest fans who crowd together to experience a sweet, savage, punk-rock version of love, the same love that grabbed hold of me at that first show and has since taken root and grown deep.
In their rocking new song “Ultimate,” Eugene Hutz sings this a capella lyric: “If we are here not to do, what you and I wanna do, and go forever crazy with it, then why the hell we are even here?” There are things I now want for my life—and I want them with fervor—and if I can endure the sometimes-brutal, ever-exhilarating mosh pit of life, I know I will get them. This I believe.
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