The art of headbanging

By 11:46

I listen to many types of music – largely, the commercial stuff played on the radio. It’s not that the popular music is my favourite – it’s mostly because I’m too lazy to go out and seek the not so popular music and then find time to actually listen to it.
One of my favourite genres of music is alternative rock. I simply love the sound of intricate solo guitar pieces. With the volume pumped up, the beat of the drums in the aggressive songs resonates with my entire body. And who won’t sing along to the lyrics of songs that seem to emulate your feelings.
I was, therefore, really excited to go to One Night in Cape Town, a concert featuring Kongos, Eagles of Death Metal, Enter Shikari, Seether and Bullet for my Valentine. Patrons to this concert were obviously fans of rock and metal and there was I, someone who dips her feet into this world now and then, ready to enjoy these bands with them. I soon realised I was doing this concert all wrong.   
It had never occurred to me before that I actually don’t know how to headbang. It’s always seemed like the only natural way to move your body to heavy rock is to move your head up and down to the beats. That’s kinda all I did besides watching in awe at how headbanging is really done.
I imagine the most popular way to head bang is to move your head up and down like I do, sort of like a repeated exaggerated nod. I feel it’s best done with your eyes closed since the fast moving images just makes your head hurt and you feel the music much more when you close your eyes anway.
For the long beats, most of my fellow golden circle compatriots seemed to prefer moving their upper bodies from the waist to about a 45 degree angle and back up, whilst also nodding their heads. I’m most afraid of this type of headbanging because of the amount of space required. I’m also scared that someone’s head is going to bang into mine when standing really close to other people at a concert. That being said, this style is actually safer on your spine than the up and down head movements that I prefer...where you don’t infringe on other people’s spaces.
There’s more than just nodding your head back and forth, there’s also the windmill where you can circle your head, whipping your head in a half circle, and shaking it from side to side. I suppose headbanging any which way you prefer is correct and developing whiplash means you’re doing it wrong.
The right hair is key to headbanging perfectly. The lead singer of Bullet for my Valentine had pin straight hair that fell back into place after any head movements. His hair was down to his shoulder blades so whenever he headbanged, his hair moved beautifully to the front of his guitar and back into place again. He had shiny blonde hair that caught the light with his movements which made watching him all the more entertaining.  
Hair length also determines the type of headbanging that’s most appropriate. The lead singer of Bullet for my Valentine spent most of his set banging his head up and down. The short haired bass guitarist, however, chose to whip his head in half circles as that made a better performance than flicking hair that he didn’t have. Really long hair, like my waist length hair, doesn’t really move much and doesn’t have the same impact when headbanging.
And then there’s the just-showing-off type of headbanging. When the entire band was on stage, Bullet for my Valentine generally started off their songs or the fast paced bits of the songs with in sync headbanging…while playing their musical instruments!
Wondering what to do with your hands while your head whips back and forth? Air guitar. Although I’m convinced that some of these air guitarists play real guitars cos they seemed to be strumming and picking and changing chords to the sound of the music. Maybe they fake it really well but I say attempt this at your own risk.
Hopefully my ‘research’ will help improve your headbanging skills. Maybe my next rock concert experience will shed light on the moshing etiquette…if I make it out of the pit alive.

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  1. I've got waist-length hair, and yes, while I have to be mindful of the folk around and behind me, I've learned to throw my volume of hair by not using my neck as the vertex, but my sternum. One can also lunge with one foot forward, both knees bent, and headbang from the waist. Try practicing at home to know how much force you should exert for a full hair throw. Also, onstage I do windmills with this long lengthmain, but in actuality, it only takes a little circular force to get the windmill going since the weight carries it. I do, however, add extra braids, extensions, and `locs for more volume, so before you try to headbang with "accessories", make sure your neck and back is up to it, else you'll get the classic "bangover" the morning(s) after. Enjoy and welcome to the pit! \m/