Curious About Crowd Surfing, Let Me School You!
With another year of large gathering/events being postponed, there is no excuse not to be prepared when things open back up after quarantine. Going to a rave or festival for the first time is on a lot of folks Bucket Lists. I want to help you level up your crowd game for when events open back up, because you know that after two years of having to hold it all in, people are going to go HARD once festivals are a thing again. You have never really fully embraced a large crowd until you have rode it like a wave!
One of the most fun experiences of attending music concerts and some festivals is Crowd Surfing. Also commonly referred to as Body Surfing the crowd, it means you are transported from one point to another simply by people passing you over their heads, distributing your body weight among their many hands. Crowd surfing has been around for almost 50 years in the communities of any edgy genre you can think of — rock, punk, metal, ska, etc., but now it extends to many EDM shows as well.
What To Expect
Taller folks, you most definitely get an arm work out for the night. Shorter people, you make instant friends with all the tall folks around you, but you also get hit in the head with more than a few elbows and feet. Everyone should have their hands up, regardless of height, because you never know when you’ll have to help carry the weight of a surfing body. That is what it is like to be on the ground while someone is crowd surfing in the sea of hands above you. I have MANY friends that refuse to “go-up” for various reasons. For those of you who are still interested, keep reading! Crowd surfing to me is like flying. It is a feeling of weightlessness and of being oh-so magical and free.
*PRO TIPS* for those considering the Crowd Surfing experience. 1) Have a post-surf plan 2) Secure all the things and 3) Communicate with the people behind the hands.
While you are hopefully practicing the buddy system you turn to your friend and you hash out a quick plan. For example, a certain song comes on and that is when you’re wanting to “go-up”, then where to meet after you “drop”. Figure out how to best secure your loose items. Zipper pockets are your friend. Everything you can not secure/don’t want to risk loosing needs to be left with your buddy or stashed in pile somewhere. What shoes are you wearing? If you can tie the laces tightly and your shoes will not slip off easily, wear them. If not, leave them with your buddy!
Next, have a planned meeting spot for either after that set ends, top of the hour, etc. Whatever suits you best. And just as you have been communicating with your buddy, say positive things as you are passed to the front of the crowd. A “Thank you! You guys rock!” goes a long way. Also, try to keep your core tight/stiffen your body a bit. It makes passing you much easier to those on the ground. Try not to be a limp noodle. I tend to cross my legs together at the ankles and then have my arms out. By making myself easier to pass it ensures I am less likely to get hurt during the surf session as well. Lastly, pick your moment and yell with your little rock and roll heart “PUT ME UP!” and you are off baby!
Things To Keep In Mind
A few things to consider that you might not have thought of concerning crowd surfing. If you are wearing a skirt or a dress, it’s going to end up letting your goodies all hang out. Usually on accident, sometimes because people are perverted. Either way, I advise AGAINST crowd surfing in easy access clothing. Take the hoodie off your waist and wear it. I have also seen bathing suits, tank tops, even t-shirts get torn off a person as they pass over the hands. The little straps and loose fabric gets caught on things, and again, people can be jerks.
Another thing to keep in mind is, if you go over the wall/fence between the fans and the stage, you are pretty much done. Often, but not always, you will have to go alllllllllll the way out and around to even start to get back to where your friends are huddled together just a few 100ft from stage. Remember, over the wall = backstage of sorts. Sometimes, security is cool, band members start partying with you. Other times, you are escorted quickly to a side exit and shown the door. Keep in mind you might have to get your bearings on where you are in less then 10 seconds after being literally handed over horizontally!
This activity is not without consequences. Beyond the torn/lost clothing and personal items, you can actually get hurt doing this. There are numerous stories at EVERY EVENT of folks suffering broken bones and cuts that require stitches after Crowd Surfing. Please proceed at your own risk and use your best judgment to gauge the crowd and the possibility of risk. I have shared all my personal tips for harm reduction, the rest is up to you to make that informed decision. Go with grace!
Important Phrases for *Crowd Surfing*
- PUT ME UP: This gets the crowd surfing experience started by letting those around you know that you want to be put up into the sea of hands.
- DROP ME: Lets the hands know that you want to be put down, and end your surf.
- OVER THE WALL: You want to be thrown over the divider between the crowd and the stage. *I always opt to drop a few rows from the front for premium viewing placement.