In which I outline the story of the Punk Rock Bodybuilder and why crowd surfing etiquette is important

Listening to: the album “American Rubicon” by The Cobra Skulls

The best adrenaline rushes I’ve experienced so far in life:

– snowboarding
– sky diving
-crowd surfing

Being a bit of a punk rock blog, this entry will be focused on the last list item.  People do this at all kinds of shows and concerts.  Many people also write their own set of rules for pit etiquette.  But I’ve yet to see a weblog post dedicated to crowd surfing etiquette.  It’s one of the coolest feelings a body can experience, but it’s just not the best idea in every instance or for every body.  I grappled with even using the word “etiquette” in this post because I think that the phrase “pit etiquette,” though often appropriate and accurate, sounds extremely pretentious.  Still, the whole issue has been on my mind lately, especially with Riot Fest coming up this weekend (!!!!!) where there’s bound to be much stage diving and crowd surfing, so I’m weighing in on it.


A few years back I went to see the F Yeah Tour.  That means on July 12, 2008, I was at the Highline Ballroom in New York seeing Monotonix, Team Robespierre (who must’ve been pretty forgettable, because I have no recollection of them whatsoever), Matt and Kim, Dillinger Four and the Circle Jerks.

It was a really, really weird assortment of bands, to say the least.  To say a whole lot more, I have no clue who made the decision to put them all together at one show with a bunch of misplaced comedians peppered in between the sets.  I felt a bit bad for the stand-up comics because they were so wrong for the show that no one really seemed to enjoy them, but overall it was an awesome evening of music.  But I digress.

With the exception of Team R, every band was better than the last and the anticipation mounted for the Circle Jerks as the show went on.  Maybe I should have sensed trouble when the Monotonix kicked off the show by setting up in the middle of the floor instead of on the stage, climbing up the venue’s support beams, hanging upside-down while singing/screaming, and drumming with garbage cans over their heads, but I guess I was so distracted I didn’t even notice the guy who would later completely squash me.

Dude looked like a punk rock bodybuilder.  I’m not great with guessing weights, but he must’ve been easily at least 250 pounds.  He looked like Doyle from The Misfits (see below) with less hair and more suspenders.  And he really, really liked the Circle Jerks.  He dominated the pit.  He successfully surfed a few times before The Parting of the Seas occurred.


via Brooklyn Vegan

This Parting of the Seas is a phenomenon I’ve observed at quite a few shows.  A rather large person will want to give crowd surfing a try.  The first time or two everyone will catch them, but after that the crowd starts to disperse from the area when they see this person’s looming shadow, because they no longer want to be the one to hold him up.  Usually, this ends in the surfer landing either flat on the ground or on one or two other unsuspecting people who just can’t support him.  Usually, the large surfer ends the diving there and observes the rest of the show with feet planted firmly on the ground.

Punk Rock Bodybuilder Guy was easily one of these people, but slightly more intimidating because of his Doyle-esque look.  In general, he stayed towards the center of the crowd when he jumped off the stage, but at one point he ran far stage right.  This is where the crowd was already slightly thinner, and, as bad luck would have it, where I was standing.

Whatever it was that distracted me, I was looking away the moment he chose to jump.  In slow motion, it must’ve looked like SuperPunk flying majestically towards the crowd, illuminated by green, yellow, red stage lights and deafeningly loud, raw punk rock encompassing the room.  He would be soaring… soaring… smacked flat on the ground.

Only there was a person under him.  That person was me.  115-pound me, with pigtails and shorts I bought from the little boys department and a backpack for my sweatshirt and water bottle.  Everyone else managed to realize before it was too late and escape, but I got the wind knocked out of me and various body bruises courtesy of the Bodybuilder.

I was a little woozy when a first stood up, and a bit sore the next day, if I remember correctly, but otherwise fine.  After all, one of the mottos I live by is that you haven’t really been to a show unless you get hurt.  Though I’ve now found a good amount of photos and videos from that show online, I can’t seem to get one clear picture of The Kid Who Surfed But Really Really Shouldn’t Have.  Here’s a video I found of that night that’ll give you a good idea of the number of punks surfing and stage diving, though:

And here’s a photo where you can kinda see the guy! He’s the kid on the left with the bright red shirt and mad spikes in his hair:


via Highline Ballroom


Which is this: don’t overdo it.  Everyone deserves to feel how awesome it is to surf, but remember those are live people down there carrying you.  If you are the Punk Rock Bodybuilder or an  otherwise rather large person, don’t stage dive over and over again into a crowd that can’t support you.  They want to enjoy the show, not spend the entire time making sure you don’t break your legs.  Also, don’t force yourself upon someone who isn’t trying to help you surf.  Ask them to help you up, or signal to them if it’s too loud, but don’t jump on their back and kick your sneakers all over their face as though they were your own personal stepladder.  And don’t fight with them lest you kick them in the head while they are doing their best not to drop you.  Don’t fight the wave that carries you; it will likely bring you to the stage shortly.  And if it doesn’t, don’t try to tell me the experience wasn’t worth it anyway.

And to those in the crowd: If you don’t want someone landing on you, stay out of the danger zone rather than running away, unless the surfer is, without reasonable doubt, overdoing it.  And come on, don’t go groping people.  It’s just not cool.

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