Crowd Surfing: The Joys and Dangers of a Decades-Long Concert Tradition

Crowd surfing

Crowd surfing has been a common staple of live music events for decades. The thrill of coasting on top of a crowd of people while rocking out to your favorite band goes unmatched. However, crowd surfing does have its downsides. In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about crowd surfing.

What is crowd surfing?

Crowd surfing, also known as body surfing, is the act of riding on the hands of a crowd of people. It’s often done at concerts and other large public events.

While crowd surfing is often associated with punk rock and heavy metal concerts, crowd surfing has been adopted by a variety of music genres such as rap, metal, and EDM.

Not only is crowd surfing done for enjoyment, but it’s also a great way for an exhausted or overwhelmed fan to exit the middle of a packed crowd with ease.

Crowd surfing

Who invented crowd surfing?

Crowd surfing is believed to have originated in the late 1970s at punk rock concerts. It became popular at large events in the 1980s, and has since been adopted by various music genres.

It’s been said that Iggy Pop was the first person to crowd surf when he performed at Cincinnati’s Summer Pop Festival in 1970.

How do you crowd surf?

If you want to try crowd surfing, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, make sure there is a large enough crowd.

It’s important because if there are not enough fans, or if there is too much space between the individuals in the audience, it can be a crowd-surfing disaster, causing you to fall to the ground.

You’ll have the best results if the crowd is packed into the venue like sardines.

First, you’ll need a friend to lift you up. It’s best done by a person folding their hands together and bracing their arms straight in front of their body. This creates a “step” for your foot to stand on.

Hold on to your partner’s shoulder for balance as you push off the ground with your other foot and straighten your leg, putting all your weight on your partner’s hands.

Once lifted up, gently fall back onto the crowd, and they will do the rest. It is best to lay on your back for a good experience.

Naturally, the crowd will push you toward the front of the room, where you will be passed to security standing at the front of the barricades. They will then instruct you to exit the pit.

If you don’t have a friend to help you, just tap your neighbor on the shoulder and point up with your finger. This is the universal hand gesture in the live music world for “I want to crowd surf.” If they’re seasoned concertgoers, they’ll know just what to do.

Crowd surfing

Is crowd surfing dangerous?

Crowd surfing is dangerous, as there is a risk of being dropped or injured by the crowd. Nevertheless, it is still a popular activity at many events.

It is important to be aware of your surroundings and to avoid injuring yourself or others. If you are planning on giving it a try, know the risks involved.

Crowd surfing has its downsides. For example, women and men have reported being groped or sexually assaulted by fans while being passed toward the front of the stage. Others have reported items taken from their pockets, such as wallets and money.

Crowd surfers face the risk of losing clothing as well, including shoes, hats, jewelry, and even piercings! Some fans can be downright disrespectful and intentionally pull these items off of you.

While crowd surfing is often associated with rowdy behavior, it can be done safely if people are careful not to injure themselves or others.

Crowd surfing

Is crowd surfing illegal?

Crowd surfing is illegal in some countries. Even in America, attempting it could result in you getting kicked out of the venue. It all depends on each venue’s rules and restrictions.

What other musicians have crowd surfed?

Many musicians have crowd surfed, including Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters, Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Kurt Cobain of Nirvana.

Artists like Minnesota rapper Prof have even taken crowd surfing a step further by throwing large inflatable floatation devices on top of the crowd during his performance and riding on them.

He also has used a splash pad that he lays across the crowd like a giant padded red carpet, then runs out on top of it while singing and dancing.

Prof at Soundset - Photo by Chris Taylor
Prof at Soundset – Photo by Chris Taylor

Best crowd surfing moments

Some of the best crowd surfing moments have been captured on camera. Macklemore had a touching moment when he crowd surfed while holding a young fan in his arms.

A man in a wheelchair was able to crowd surf at a Foo Fighters concert. He was carried by the crowd on their hands and passed over the heads of other concertgoers.

The man in the wheelchair said it was an amazing experience and that he felt like he was flying. This just goes to show that anyone can enjoy this unique experience, regardless of their ability level.

Written by Bo Weber

Supporting artists since 2014


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