Everything you need to know about shoulder biting, the latest craze to sweep the British Isles
Shoulder biting grips the nation
Well, now we’ve seen it all. First there was Twerking, then the Ice Bucket Challenge, the Shiggy Challenge, Fidget Spinners and Pokemon Go, but nothing has prepared the land of soap and glory for its latest, supremely daft obsession: shoulder biting. That’s right. All over the United Kingdom, innocent pedestrians are today falling victim to the ‘nudge, nibble and nonchalant walk’ of gangs of amateur shoulder biters.
Those who have experienced shoulder biting first hand, complain of feeling alienation, rage or guilt. Some have even succumbed to suicidal thoughts. Many are unwilling to venture outside, in case they are subject to further attacks, by what proponents of the craze say is just a bit of harmless fun and retail organisations up and down the country are preparing themselves for a vast drop in sales in the run up to the busy Christmas/Easter period.
What is shoulder biting?
For those who are unfamiliar with the practice of shoulder biting, it involves two people, the biter and the bitee. The biter selects their victim, usually a person a little smaller than themselves, then approaches, using a slow, casual walk and bumps into the bitee, whose initial response is one of surprise. The biter then turns their head as if to apologise and makes contact with the bitee’s shoulder, using their teeth. A quick nibble or gentle bite is delivered, before the biter scurries off to the adulation of their friends, leaving the bitee shocked, bewildered and wondering what the heck just happened to them.
According to the police, most shoulder biters are males in their late teens to early twenties and victims are predominantly young women or single mothers. There have been isolated reports of female shoulder biters approaching male victims, however, such cases are rare, generally because women are far better behaved than men and men tend to respond with a swift right hook to the face, rather than a shriek of surprise.
The origins of shoulder biting
The precise origin of the shoulder biting craze is unknown, however, social scientists at Keele University have traced anecdotal reports back to a single incident in Bristol, which occurred in the early nineteen-nineties. According to unnamed sources, a young man, wearing a signed Trumpton Riots T-Shirt was seen to collide with a moderately attractive woman, while approaching a pedestrian crossing. Once contact was made, the man turned and “accidentally” bit the woman on the shoulder, before continuing to the other side of the road and disappearing from view. The woman was apparently left shaken but otherwise unharmed and after a short pause, continued on her way, no doubt to recount the incident to her friends later that evening.
Subsequent accounts of shoulder biting are patchy, but it is believed that the practice gradually made its way to the North West of the country, finding popularity in the underground Jungle and Breakbeat scenes of Liverpool and Manchester at the turn of the century. Following that, it crept across the country to Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Hull, where rumour has it that a notorious gang, known only as the Norman Cook Massive, incorporated it into their initiation process.
From there and with the rise of social media and video streaming, shoulder biting has rapidly grown in popularity and finally broke into the mainstream consciousness earlier this year, with over fourteen thousand YourTub videos being posted in the last six months alone.
The dangers of shoulder biting
We spoke to veteran shoulder biter, Bigdog Bazman, through his Twatter channel, @Bigdogbitesya, to talk about the dangers of shoulder biting. This is what he had to say:
“Well, of course it’s dangerous, man and I wanna say from the outset that me and my bro’s only do it by the book. Y’know, a gentle nibble, like, nothing more. It’s a bit of fun and no one needs to get hurt. I mean I know of guys out there that go full tilt on it, try to go for the bone, but that’s just not cool. Not cool at all. You also gotta pick the right person and watch what you’re biting into. There’s been guys put in hospital because they’ve tried to be hard and gone round shoulder biting bouncers and people wearin’ leather jackets. I mean that’s just stupid and the dental bills is rough as flip afterwards! You also gotta make sure that they’re wearin’ protection. You don’t wanna bite into a bare shoulder, that’s base, man! Oh and finally, never try and shoulder bite a copper. Those guys just don’t see the funny side of things at all!”
Proper etiquette for shoulder biting
According to the newly formed British Union of Shoulder Biters, the correct way to perform a shoulder bite is as follows:
- Identify the proposed bitee and make yourself known to them from a distance. Eye contact and a nod of the head is usually sufficient. If the bitee signals non-assent then do not proceed. Seek a willing bitee instead.
- Approach at sauntering speed, with the arms swinging naturally, but not too high. The aim is to make contact with the shoulder, not punch the bitee in the stomach or head.
- Use your dominant shoulder or whatever feels natural to you and graze the bitee’s opposite shoulder, i.e. right to left or left to right. Do not try to strike the same side shoulder, i.e. right to right, as you will end up head butting the bitee.
- At the moment of contact, snap your head around smartly and touch your upper teeth to the bitee’s shoulder. Minimal pressure should be used, rather than a vampire bite, which is a common mistake made by those new to the sport. Now would be a good time to give the bitee your social media details, especially if they are attractive. Many experienced shoulder biters carry a business card specifically for this purpose.
- Break contact and carry on as if nothing has happened. Congratulations! You have successfully performed your shoulder bite.
- Record the details of your successful shoulder bite in your log book. Remember to include the date, time, place and local weather conditions, as well as the physical characteristics of your bitee, for future reference.
Important note: In the rare event that your shoulder bite is too hard and an injury occurs, we recommend carrying a small first-aid kit, including antiseptic wipes, plasters and a zip-lock bag for any dislodged or broken teeth, so that immediate roadside assistance can be carried out. Do not run away from an injured bitee. This is considered unprofessional.
In contrast, the website of the Yobsmouth Shoulder Biters Club (www.yobbites.co.uk) has this advice for those interested in joining in the craze:
“Find ‘em, bite ‘em and flee!”
Shoulder biting. Is it here to stay?
Is shoulder biting just another in a long line of ridiculous English crazes or is it something with a bit more staying power? One might as well ask if the UK will ever leave Europe, only time will tell. For many, including politicians, the police and the countless victims whose lives have forever been altered following an encounter, shoulder biting is an unwelcome nuisance with potentially sinister and injurious overtones. For others, such as Bigdog Bazman, shoulder biting is a way of life and an increasingly important part of daily social interaction, a handshake for the twenty-first century if you like. Based on the available evidence, with more and more youths becoming aware of the practice and dozens of new videos being posted daily on social media accounts, it does indeed appear that the ‘nudge, nibble and nonchalant walk’ of the shoulder biter will be with us for some time to come.
Editors note: We will do our best to keep you updated on developments in the shoulder biting sphere, including progress with the proposed Anti-Shoulder Biting Bill (ASBB), which is due to be introduced into Parliament once Brexit negotiations have concluded. In the meantime, why not check out these useful resources?