My first mosh pit experience was shared with one of the Sunlin twins – he came up behind me, told me to relax, then put his arm around my waist and took me in.
We were at a concert at the State Theater in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It was winter, and in winter the youth of Kalamazoo needed an outlet for their dreary cooped-up angst. Many found this in the mosh pit.
I’d met the Sunlin twins, and many other of my friends in the audience that night, when I was the middle school manager for the high school track team in our small town of Gobles, thirty minutes away. Many of the older students had decided, individually, to take me under their respective wings after seeing me show up to practice after practice in my INXS and Depeche Mode t-shirts, bangs always draped over one eye, quiet but dryly witty and, most importantly, willing to rub icy hot into their calves. I had a knack for massage and they took advantage.
On this particular night I was, as usual, standing coolly on the outskirts of the mosh pit, observing it with my uncovered eye – close enough to feel the heat but not so close that I couldn’t dodge a stray elbow if need be. The mosh pit thrilled me – the tangle of bodies, the contorted faces, the forgiveness of pain. My inner self wanted to dive in and prove the size and strength it perceived itself to be, but my outer self was small, skinny, five-foot-two and about 90 pounds. Common sense kept me scared and humble.
Once in, everything was a blur. I was breathless with the thrill and nervous about my pretty face – the Sunlin twins were stocky boys but not tall or fierce and although I felt secure in his grip, I questioned our joined presence in the hurricane of the pit.
He never let go and pulled me through once without incident. Once out he faced me and shouted, like a big brother – of which I had four but none would ever teach me this – “do you want to go in again?”
I put my mouth to his ear and instantly mastered the art of not shouting at a loud event. I said “yes” and he shrugged, took a slug of beer out of his plastic cup, and grabbed me again. I was looser this time and jumped more, put out my elbows, sucked down the flighty wings of fear with small screams for the band and the crowd and then, I went up.
The Sunlin twin let go of my waist and in some sort of language only communicated through biceps and gentle shin kicks, he and the people around us lifted me onto the stage. In shock, I stood breathing deeply in front of the lead singer of the God Bullies, looking out at the undulating crowd below before it hit me: this was a fucking Mosh Pit and I was about to Stage Dive!
And I did – I flew. I spread my arms in my baggy thermal shirt and I leapt from the stage into the arms and bony fingers of a mass of swirling strangers all ready to catch me, hoist me, move me forward and back, until finally they set me down and I found myself jumping and moving with the crowd, no Sunlin arms guiding me, holding my own in the mosh pit.