Spilling your beer on other concertgoers is a time-honored no-no, whether you’re at the Black Cat, above, or elsewhere. And while you’re drinking, remember not to get so wasted that you forget all the other rules of the musical road. (Photo illustration by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

Some guidelines on how to behave at a general admission concert over 90 decibels:

On talking: We’re all here to listen to music, so the nightclub whisper — leaning over to speak directly into someone’s ear — is the best and only way to do it. If your voice can be heard over the music by anyone other than the person you’re speaking to, save it for between songs. And group conversations are pointless and rude. During a performance, the only person allowed to speak to more than one person at once is the person onstage holding the microphone.

On navigating a crowd: While maneuvering through a thick crowd, always move slowly and courteously. Eye contact and smiles will help ensure safe passage. If you’re moving closer to the stage, remember that anyone who moves out of your way is doing you a massive favor, so don’t get huffy. If you spill someone’s drink, always offer to buy a replacement. Gentlemen, while cutting through a crowd, do not attempt to move women out of your path by placing your hands on their hips. This is harassment and it’s disgusting. A tap on the shoulder works just fine.

On being tall: If you’re taller than average, turn around to see whether the folks standing directly behind you have been squinting angrily at the back of your head. If so, ask if they’d like to switch spots. Or better yet, move to the side or the back of the room.

[Etiquette in the arts: How to behave in the digital age]

On being intoxicated: Easy one. Don’t get wasted to the point where you can’t remember any of these rules.

On singing along: Everybody sing! But remember the operative word: “along.” Don’t shout over the song in an monotone squawk just to show off that you memorized all the lyrics. Be a part of the music.

On clapping along: It’s usually on the two and the four, rarely on the one and the three. Practice at home beforehand.

On applause: You’re free to generate as much noise as you like between songs. Make the most of it.

On shouting at the performer: You’re allowed to do this only once a performance, so make your heckle count. Reconcile the fact that it will never be as funny as it sounds in your head. And if the performer fires back, they get the last word. (You’re allowed to do this only once, remember?) As for shouting out requests, again, you get only one, and it’s best to do it when the performer asks, “Any requests?” Otherwise, let these musicians do the job you paid to watch them do.

On dancing: Let the rhythm move you. Just be mindful of those around you. If you’re kicking or elbowing anyone, you’re probably not dancing very well, anyway. Asking a stranger to dance takes courage and good manners. If you have both, go for it. Don’t ever just start grinding up on someone from behind. Obviously.

On stage-diving: You’re certain that you’re smaller than everyone you’re about to dive on? And you’re confident that these strangers will catch you? Okay, you’re clear for take-off. Everybody else, be patient. Virtual reality will allow all of us to crowd-surf at the concerts of our choice before too long. And if you’re catching a diver, treat them like a friend. Don’t be gross. If you’ve ever groped a crowd-surfer, you don’t deserve to live in a democracy, let alone attend a concert in one.

On public displays of affection: If the music inspires you to smooch your companion, go ahead and pucker up. But if you feel inspired to keep smooching them, that means your companion has inspired your smoochery, not the music. Go find a snog-spot toward the back, and good luck, you crazy kids.

On stand-spooning: What is stand-spooning? It’s a public act of coupledom performed in concert settings in which the taller partner (usually a man) stands behind the shorter partner (usually a woman) and wraps his imprisoning arms around her in a cocoon of affection. I’m not sure why stand-spooning is so grody, but I am sure that it should not be allowed at concerts.

On fighting: Like stand-spooning, it is never acceptable.

On photography: In many ways, a concert is a party. You might snap a couple of pictures at a party, maybe a few selfies, but you’re not going to spend your entire night click-click-clicking away. Your phone should spend most of the night in your pocket. What about those artists who ban photography at their shows? A performer has the right to establish those rules, and ticket-buyers have the right to break them. Just be moderate in your snappage and remember to turn off the flash.

On following these rules: Yeah, okay, you go to concerts to get out of your head and all these rules are harshing your mellow. Fair enough. Some of these rules are flexible. Others are not. You’re smart enough to know the difference.

Ultimately, a concert is a gathering where amplified sound acts as a valve for human emotional energy. Is your behavior helping the collective energy flow more freely, or is it clogging things up? That is the question we all must ask ourselves when we feel compelled to mosh, twerk, do the worm, high-five a stranger and/or yell “FREEBIRD!”

Read our critics’ takes on etiquette in their respective fields:

- Hornaday: Improving manners at the movies

- Sietsema: Hoping to have a good dinner? Be a good diner.

- Kaufman: Dance audiences are too caught up in the performance to be rude

- Pressley: Turn off your phone at the theater. And ignore the prostitute.

- Midgette: How (not) to behave: Manners and the classical music audience

- Kennicott: At museums, selfie sticks poke holes in the idea of anything goes