Crowd surfing

From Academic Kids

A crowd surfer
A crowd surfer

Crowd surfing describes the process whereby a person is passed from person to person, transferring the person from one part of the concert venue to another, above everyone's heads, with everyone's hands supporting the person's weight.

At most concerts and festivals the crowd surfer will be passed towards a barrier in front of the stage by the crowd, where they will be pulled off and put onto their feet by the security stewards. Following this they will be sent back to the side or rear of the crowd at the end of the barrier or they may be ejected from the venue (depending on the policy enforced). Some venues operate a zero tolerance policy towards surfing where any surfer will be automatically thrown out, but most operate a "two / three strikes and out" policy where only persistant offenders are punished.

Crowd Surfing generally only occurs towards the front of an audience where the crowd is dense enough to support a person's body. It is most popular at metal, punk, rock and indie gigs. At some genre concerts such as folk and classical music crowdsurfing is unheard of because the audience will not generate enough energy to be able to hold up an audience member, and also because these concerts are more usually seated.

In order to get above everyone's heads, a person can be given a boost, or they can stage dive.

The practice was said to have been invented by Peter Gabriel who first indulged in the act during performances of "Lay Your Hands on Me".

The musical group They Might Be Giants, who strongly discourage crowd surfing, often refer to the practice as "passing the dude".

Dangers of crowd surfing

In 2000, at the Roskilde Festival festival, nine people died and several were wounded because they were trampled during a Pearl Jam concert (also see CNN ( Since then, crowd surfing has been made illegal at most festivals and concerts in Europe, and patrons can often expect to be ejected from the venue for partaking in the act. Critics of crowdsurfing aurgue that injuries can frequently occur not only when a surfer is accidently dropped by the crowd from a height of some feet onto the floor (sometimes head first, to be trampled below) but also to innocent concert goers below who can sometimes be injured when a surfer lands on top of them, occasionally with some force. Sometimes audience members are accidently kicked in the face and upper body by crowd surfers. Scratches are sometimes caused by zips or studs on clothing. Some audience members can be knocked over by crowd surfers causing them to be trampled by the dancing crowd. They will say that this makes crowd surfing both anti-social and dangerous.

Supporters of crowd surfing say that by standing in the mosh pit patrons should expect such behaviour as part of a rock show and by standing more towards the side or rear of the venue they can easily avoid such behaviour. Such people also state that serious injuries caused by crowd surfing are extremely rare. It is true that the majority of injuries caused by crowd surfing is only mild bruising, which occurs in any mosh pit without crowd surfing. Supporters will also argue that most crowd surfers are considerate and will wear soft shoes such as trainers, and refrain from wearing jackets in order to minimise injuries, and that it is common mosh pit etiquete to pick up anyone who has fallen over.

It seems that the two schools of thought are not compatible, and most larger venues have now taken steps to prevent the activity.

Within the rock concert community some individuals consider crowd surfing and stage diving to be a fine art and will often boast about any injuries they have sustained in the act.

See also: stage diving, moshing, headbanging, air guitar, list of dancesda:Crowd surfing it:Surf sulla folla


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