Female, Mosher, Transgressor: A 'Moshography' of Transgressive Practices within the Leeds Extreme Metal Scene


  • Gabrielle Riches Leeds Metropolitan University, UK
  • Brett Lashua Leeds Metropolitan University, UK
  • Karl Spracklen Leeds Metropolitan University, UK




Moshpits, spectacle, embodiment, transgression, performance ethnography, extreme metal music


This paper examines and reconceptualises transgression in the Leeds extreme metal music subculture through theories of performance, embodiment and spectacle. The spectacle, for Debord (1967), is a social relation that is alienating and mediated by images, visuals, and technology. At a live extreme metal concert fans subvert social norms, challenge gendered expectations, and disregard norms of etiquette and decency. Moshing is the most visible and sensuous example of transgression within the extreme metal scene. It is an aggressive, physically demanding performance which embodies resistance to the impersonal and disillusioning world of the spectacle (Halnon, 2004). The pit is a transgressive space that is itself transgressed by women who participate in this masculine, chaotic space, disrupting the homosocial bonds of male solidarity (Gruzelier, 2007). This paper offers an ethnographic account of a female metal fan participating in the transgressive practice of moshing within the Leeds metal music scene – a moshography.

Author Biographies

Gabrielle Riches, Leeds Metropolitan University, UK

Gabrielle Riches is a doctoral candidate at the Research Institute for Sport, Physical Activity and Leisure at Leeds Metropolitan University, UK.

Karl Spracklen, Leeds Metropolitan University, UK

Professor of Leisure Studies Secretary of the International Society for Metal Music Studies Editor of Metal Music Studies


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