Being pushed and pulled in a festival mosh pit is inevitable. Hot, alcohol-fuelled bodies compete to catch glimpses of their favourite artist by any means necessary.
I personally got over “the mosh” when I was 15 and now like to stand along the sides of the stage, sacrificing my view to escape the carnage. When attending Pitchfork Music Festival in Paris, however, I was feeling particularly daring and decided to physically immerse myself in the music.
The unfortunate reality of being a female at festivals is the unwanted, uncomfortable physical contact from obnoxious members of the opposite sex. The incidents followed the festival set times.
Act: An unwanted hand in marriage
My friend Griea and I decide to dance together. Moshpit conditions are tolerable and spacious enough to do so. We are holding hands and enjoying the disco vibes when a young man grabs Griea’s hand and pulls her away from me.
“Hi,” Griea replies.
“I need to know your name, please tell me your name.”
After repeating herself several times, she is finally able to make him hear her. Asking for a girl’s name in the middle of a loud, sweaty mosh isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it probably isn’t necessary.
The artist finishes and the crowd starts to dissipate, but the man will not let go of Griea’s hand. He begs for a phone number, a photo, a kiss on the cheek.
Griea and I lock eyes; hers beg for an escape.
I pull her away and out of reach of the harasser. I think of all the times I’ve been in similar situations: each time being at a concert, club or gig with a male hassling me and not taking a hint. Locking and reading each other’s eyes is a safety precaution we women have been forced to learn.
As I drag Griea away, the man grabs my hand.
“Hello. I have been trying to get to know your interesting friend. Can you help me?”
I roll my eyes.
“Please!” he yells, as we walk away.
Standing at the bar, I ponder how I was supposed to “help” him. Was he asking me to convince my clearly uninterested friend to go home with him? Or would a quick pash satisfy his yearning?
Act: Give us a smile, darling
Time: 2:00 am
The mosh pit starts to get full. The crowd is hyped with anticipation for one of the last acts of the night. I am determined to stand at the front and get a good view. As the DJ begins to play, the butterflies in my stomach start to flutter. I stand with my hands in my pockets, swaying side to side. I am completely absorbing the music.
Suddenly, a tall man who must have lost his razor 10 years ago obstructs my view.
“What’s wrong love? Come on – smile like the rest of us.”
I laugh off his comment and continue to be in awe of the music.
He reappears. “Hey come on, laugh for me.”
He gets closer and closer to me, asking me to be happier, to move more, to dance with him. For him.
Apparently, by enjoying the music in solitude, I am being weird. I’m not happy like the rest of the crowd. In desperation, I clutch at my friend George to protect me, because the beard won’t leave.
“Dance! Look happy!” he continues.
I stand alone for the rest of the gig, unsure how to move, forging a smile. I feel totally uncomfortable with how I am “supposed” to use my body.
Griea danced too much, so she was asking for a sexual favour.
I didn’t smile or move enough, so I was boring.
As the festival draws to an end, I notice a girl walking past with a ‘My favourite colour is feminism’ tee shirt. I scoff, thinking about my beige night.
Cover by Desi Mendoza