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Many metal musicians when performing live engage in headbanging, which involves rhythmically beating time with the head, often emphasised by long hair. The coma, or devil horns, hand gesture, also widespread, was popularised by Ronnie James Dio while with Black Sabbath and Dio. Although Gene Simmons of Kiss claims to have been the first to make the gesture on the 1977 Love Gun album cover, there is speculation as to who started the phenomenon.

Attendees of metal concerts do not dance in the usual sense. Deena Weinstein has argued that this is due to the music's largely male audience and "extreme heterosexualist ideology". She identifies two primary body movements that substitute for dancing: headbanging and an arm thrust that is both a sign of appreciation and a rhythmic gesture. The performance of air guitar is popular among metal fans both at concerts and listening to records at home. Other concert audience activities include stage diving, crowd surfing, pushing and shoving in a chaotic melee called moshing, and displaying the coma hand symbol.

 
         

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