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Hardcore dancing grew out of the eastern United States hardcore scene, especially the New York, New Jersey, Boston, hardcore scenes. Hardcore dancing became a quintessential part of any show beginning in the early 1980's.

There is no strict definition on what dance moves could be considered 'hardcore dancing', as it varies widely from place to place. Most of any of the moves done during a song under these genres are performed either to the beat of the song or as accurate as possible, as those who attempt such moves are frequently mocked by the veteran crowds. Some of the more common moves include the 2-step; which is performed at a part in a song in which hardcore dancing cannot be utilized, thus a need for a filler. 2-stepping is widely related to skanking. Other moves include arm flares, in which the dancer swings his or her arms either backwards, forwards, or from side to side, using their arms to propel them from either side of the pit. Backward kicks and spin kicks, as well as air punches are commonly used as well. Various forms of flips are also known to be used in hardcore pits as well. A hardcore pit differs from the usual mosh pit routine of pogoing and crashing into each other in an often controlled, but violent way. Participants in hardcore pits move around with rhythm to various beats, some slow and some faster. Hardcore dancing is typically associated and executed only during certain points in musical breakdowns; this element makes it such that hardcore dancing exhibits less motility than a conventional mosh pit.

As some hardcore bands incorporated slower syncopated, metal-influenced rhythms into their songs, the modern breakdown — and the dancing that went with it — was introduced.[citation needed] Early Leeway, Bulldoze,Earth Crisis and Biohazard concerts were common venues for this type of hardcore dancing.

New York hardcore band Sick of it All featured a tongue-in-cheek how-to guide for hardcore dancing in their music video for "Step Down" and AFI's video for "The Leaving Song Pt. II" is a depiction of hardcore culture, popular for its relentless representation of Hardcore Dancing. Hatebreed's video for 'I Will Be Heard' also depicts hardcore dancing throughout.

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