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Huntington Beach Punk Roots - Huntington Beach Strut


Featured in "Slam Dancing in a Fast City," a story by Robert Keating that appeared in Penthouse Magazine approx. 20 years ago, Kevin "Brick" Brickman holds copies of the article in his nightclub office.

 

Moshing or slam dancing is a type of dance characterized by jumping around and or pushing others to loud heavy metal or punk music. Moshing is popular with many, especially young, rock, punk, hardcore, screamo and metal fans, especially hardcore fans. Moshing is also popular as Ska (ska-core), Rap and Breakcore (a genre of extreme electronic dance music).

Both moshing and slam dancing are typically done in a mosh pit or circle pit. Originally this was just a group of people typically directly in front of the stage who were engaged in this form of dancing. It is now more frequent that there are mosh or circle pits throughout the entire audience. A circle pit is a large and usually roughly circular clearing in the audience of a punk show about two to ten meters from the front of the stage. Inside this circle, people can mosh and skank, with moshing usually being the device that created the pit to begin with. The main focus, though, is to pretty much run in a circle and have fun.

 

There's a resurgence in moshing, according to Kevin "Brick" Brickman.  Once featured in a Penthouse magazine article documenting the post-punk movement that got its beginnings in Huntington Beach, Brickman recently managed venture that brought back the era of moshing. While that club no longer exists, the tradition lives in cities throughout the world, and especially in Hollywood. Read article by Greg Clarke about the Hollywood scene.

 

But first, roll back 25 years when Golden Bear profits were in decline and that well known Huntington Beach dinner night club was about to shut its doors, the punk scene had become a solid hit in Huntington Beach. A sampling of band names from that the mid to late 1980s include: Peter and the Test Tube Babies, Adolescents, D.O.A., Minutemen, Sam Hain, Poison 13, Bad Religion, Black Flag (appearing at the Fleetwood with Agent Orange), China White, Disposals, Succubus, SWA, T.S.O.L and Secret Service. Concerts the 30+ crowd may have seen from that era included Dickies vs. Toy Dolls with Special Guest Bend Over and Smile from Behind the Orange Curtain at the Hollywood Palladium January 17, 1986.

From Penthouse Magazine -  "Slam Dancing in a Fast City," by Robert Keating

Huntington Beach. This is where it all began—L.A.'s skinheads. The surf punks. Creeps. Survivors. A prefab, middle-class town. Huntington Beach is a sterile community. Tract houses that sprang up during the 1960s as an escape from urban woes. Only they found new troubles.

"Huntington Beach has always been like gangs and stuff," explains a Hollywood girl at the Starwood whose bored voice says she really just can't relate to it. Her face is painted different colors and her flame-red hair is starched into cornstalks. "You know, surfers against non-surfers. Stuff like that. These skinheads though—these surf punks who come beat people up—they're just a lot of bored rich boys who decided to shave their heads. -end

 

Huntington Beach Strut, the Circle Pit and More

Unfortunately, the hardcore scene became associated with violence, and attracted some aggressive elements to hardcore shows. Several clubs were trashed, and police began to appear at shows, at least Los Angeles in Huntington Beach, California USA where the Huntington Strut or H.B. Strut was invented.

Skateboarding was also associated with the scene, at a time in which the radical sport known today was practiced underground and almost without official notice. The hardcore scene created slamdancing ('moshing' was a later term borrowed from Jamaican reggae -- the original one was '[doing] the Huntington Beach Strut'), stagediving, and crowd surfing.

 

Moshing or slam dancing is a type of dance characterized by jumping around and or pushing others to loud heavy metal or punk music. Moshing is popular with many, especially young, rock, punk, hardcore, screamo and metal fans, especially hardcore fans. Moshing is also gaining popularity Ska (ska-core) , Rap and Breakcore (a genre of extreme electronic dance music).

Both moshing and slam dancing are typically done in a mosh pit or circle pit. Originally this was just a group of people typically directly in front of the stage who were engaged in this form of dancing. It is now more frequent that there are mosh or circle pits throughout the entire audience. A circle pit is a large and usually roughly circular clearing in the audience of a punk show about two to ten meters from the front of the stage. Inside this circle, people can mosh and skank, with moshing usually being the device that created the pit to begin with. The main focus, though, is to pretty much run in a circle and have fun.

Circle pits go back to the early days of California hardcore, in the Huntington Beach scene. Originally the dance of running in a circle was called the Huntington Strut, or H.B. Strut. Essentially it involves simply skipping, running, or powerwalking rapidly around the rim of the moshpit, the original H.B. variant being that the participant flails their arms around, pushes, elbows, or crashes onlookers, or moves their arms in a similar fashion to the dance known as "The Monkey" (also similar to the Bushwhackers, the old school World Wrestling Entertainment tag team).

Usually a counterclockwise rotation is observed by dancers inside the circle pit, and moving clockwise would be difficult for all but the most massive people. The size of the pit depends on both the size of the audience and the tempo of the music being played: the greater of either of these, the greater the size of the pit. Generally, circle pits can range from between two and twenty meters in radius, with the larger ones typically being the most intense.

One's likelihood to be harmed in a circle pit has a lot to do with the size of the audience and the genre of punk; typically small audiences at local underground punk shows will have "friendly" pits where dancers help up others that have fallen, smaller men, boys, women, and girls are able to participate equally with the larger males, and a feeling of "community" is generally pervasive. One is more likely to get injured in a big mainstream punk show, such as one that would be given by Pennywise or AFI, although most audience members will always try to pull dancers that have fallen over out of the way of serious injury as fast as possible.