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8 tips to crowd surf safely

January 27, 2016

The safest way to crowd surf is to not. But, if you insist...

I was always frail growing up. Not weak, per se, but slim — the kind of kid who slinked through dozens of shows a year leaving the all ages venues a sweat soaked 130 pounds. Eventually into my 20s I bulked up, which is to say, working from home as a writer, I got a little fat. But not huge; I was, compared to a lot of people, still often the slimmest guy.

And that’s when it changed. I was better equipped to handle myself in mosh pits, but still slim enough for my friends to – no doubt under the influence of booze – remark at how easy it would be to literally toss me into the air. And that’s how things like this started happening:

Ever since my first crowd surf, I’ve taken notice at how others do it. My conclusion? Not very well. Countless shows I’ve been to have been marred by over-eager kids front flipping into the crowd, scissor kicking the two-sizes-too-big boots they thrifted wildly as they wave across the crowd.

More recently, a Modern Baseball show at Toronto’s Opera House had to be paused after a stage diving, crowd surfing incident led to a young women lying injured on the floor. She was okay, but it could have been avoided. Which leads me to this, a guide the editors of AUX asked me to write on how to safely stage dive and crowd surf. Naturally, I obliged, but only to say this: The safest way to crowd surf is to just… not do it.

But if you so insist, follow along:

1. Know your surroundings

Have you found yourself on stage? You shouldn’t be there. But if you are, it’s probably on purpose. You’re probably going to stage dive. Before you do, do everyone around you a favour and, like, look. Use your eyes. You might think we’re writing this so you don’t jump into an empty part of the pit, but truth be told, this is as much about your safety as it is the safety of those around you. And so before you dive, take a look and consider that you’re not bombing a cannonball into your weird uncle’s swimming pool. These are people. Like, living, breathing people. Consider that before you plan on doing that dank ass front flip.

2. Relax

The next step is to relax. You are a leaf on the wind. If you insist on showing off your hops, consider that the higher you go, the harder you fall. Regardless, you want to land safely and smoothly, and that means you’re relying on the people you’re jumping on. Make it easier on them and you’ll instantly reap the reward of not going splat. Don’t want to fall down, go boom? Imagine you’re jumping, nay, floating, into a waterbed.

Consider this arithmetic if you’re confused — if you pierce through the audience, you’re going to be met with concrete. Want to know what’s a lot less cool looking than an aggro-stage dive? Being strapped into a gurney. See the picture atop this post? That’s me, relaxing. Try to do better.

[pullquote]It’s not to say you’ve got to go limper than a Cialis patient, but there are other ways to ride a high energy show than flailing about like there’s a ghost pepper in your pooper.[/pullquote]

3. Float on

Like our last tip, it’s all about staying Zen when it comes to crowd surfing. Surprising, maybe, given the aggressive shows that usually lend themselves to stage dives, but we digress. Once they’ve caught you, it’s all about that steady flow. It’s not to say you’ve got to go limper than a Cialis commercial, but there are other ways to ride a high energy show than flailing about like there’s a ghost pepper in your pooper. Keep your feet calm, your posture steady and, like, I don’t know, fist pump? Give the finger? Go full Stone Cold and crush the beer you might be holding?

Nothing leads to you being dropped on your skullet like a boot to the human-river’s face.

4. One at a time

Maybe you’re at the kind of show event security refers to a “waterfall,” a reference to gangly kids spilling over the stage-front barricade faster than a Family Guy dick joke. And while there’s nothing wrong with a steady flow of crowd surfers, take our first tip to task, look around you and think logically: Am I more likely to get hurt if I jump on someone who’s just jumped in? If you answered no, we’ll assume you’ve already suffered the necessary head trauma to prove our point.

5. Don’t go up the backdoor

Want to know my biggest pet peeve? Being in an otherwise raucous, physical but fun mosh pit only to be booted in the neck, from behind, by someone who had his or her friends hoist them from the middle (or back) of the crowd. If you want to float along safely and enjoy the ride, you should probably not work against the element of surprise.

6. Pace yourself

Getting tired? Imagine being the ones who keep having to catch you. We realize we’re waxing poetic at this point but ultimately it always boils down to one thing: Don’t be a dick. You’re not the star of the show, and so when your fellow punx are focusing as much or more on your flailing liberty spikes as they are on the band itself, it’s time to take a breather.

7. Know when to quit

Are those tired arms starting to sag? Are you fighting to stay up? If yes, chances are one of two things are going to happen: You’re going to get hurt, or those trying to stop you from getting hurt will. If it feels like work for you, and it seems like work for them, then throw in the towel. Grab a drink, high five your bros, work on your spin kicks… whatever. Just take a minute or two before you dive back in.

8. Or just, like, don’t

It’s not even that fun.

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