Tinku – The Bolivian Mosh Pit

Written by on November 16, 2023

Tinku – The Bolivian Mosh Pit – by Liam Sweeny.

The American mosh pit, to those who don’t know the metal scene, or who don’t want to know the scene, seem brutal, violence-for-the-sake-of-violence, and to a point they may be right. To a point. What they might not realize is that most people who listen to metal and go to shows and, yes, mosh, aren’t violent people. Moshing can be also called slam-dancing, although some purist will argue the differences. I know know them, and it’s not the point. It’s a form of dancing, is the point. And it’s an act of catharsis.

Life sucks. Things piss us off every day, and most of us suck it up and get into all kinds of unhealthy behaviors. Weight goes up, blood pressures go up. Before you know it you’re thirty on a statin. Out and out kicking and punching the whirlwind is not only a great way to release pent up anger, its exercise. It’s not person-to-person violence in a pit, and the pieces of crap that go into a pit gunning for someone don’t get it, and shouldn’t be able to.

I say all of this because what I am about to say next might shock you. Or just get fed into your opinion maker. We’re talking Bolivia here, and during a certain time, the entire country is a mosh pit.

It’s called tinku. It’s a festival in which people combat each other, first with hands, then with stones. This isn’t the running of the bulls, which takes place in Pamplona, Spain. This is a whole damn country beating each other up for a short time in a ritualized fashion.

People die. It is not unusual for people to die during tinku, especially when those stones come out. The Bolivian government basically sits by and tries to keep the major mayhem from happening. It’s a custom, a ritual; it’s like their fourth of July, only it’s fists instead of fireworks.

These people are normal villagers throughout the year, until tinku, then it’s Mad Max. I say all of this because if you like moshing, you should probably put Bolivia on your bucket list.


More from Liam Sweeny…

Current track