On Campus

Master's degree on the mosh pit

Alberta student's thesis is on social experience of moshing

Photo courtesy of tatu43 on Flickr

Gabby Riches, a Recreation and Leisure student at the University of Alberta, is writing Master’s thesis about mosh pits.

It’s a respected topic. The 25-year-old recently won an award from the Canadian Congress on Leisure Research for a mosh-related paper.

Moshing started in the early 1980s in the American hardcore punk scene, Riches told the Edmonton Journal. The name was coined after the band Bad Brains would yell “mash it up” to their audience. “But the singer had a thick Jamaican accent, so people heard ‘mash’ as ‘mosh’,” explains Riches. She has identified two main types: the “circle pit” and the “wall of death.”

Riches describes moshing as a social experience that’s not yet widely understood. “At first, moshing can feel intimidating, frightening, because it’s physical and aggressive,” she said. “It looks violent, but I don’t like to say that because it isn’t.” She hopes to continue her exploration of mosh pits in a PhD program at Leeds Metropolitan University in the U.K.

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