Gigs with a disability
Going to gigs is one of my favourite things to do. The atmosphere, the music and the singing along, not caring what you sound like. With a disability it can taint that magical feeling.
Since my health and mobility worsening, I haven’t been to many gigs and the reason for that is accessibility. I was at a gig last year in the o2 ABC in Glasgow and that was the point where I realised that I really should be taking steps to making my gig experience more comfortable. I couldn’t stand for much of the gig, maybe the first 5 minutes, and ended up sitting up the back of the venue with a very restricted view which did dampen the full experience.
Despite all of this I have discovered how I can make gigs so much easier for myself or others with a disability.
Okay say your favourite band is touring and they have multiple dates at 3 venues close by to you, my first tip would be to go onto all 3 venues websites and check out their accessibility. Whether you need wheelchair access, access to a seat or assistance from someone during your time in the venue most venues will accommodate this. Older venues tend not to have great accessibility but they may have made upgrades or have different entrances that can be used so its definitely worth asking. If you can’t find much information on the website, give the venue a phone to see how they can help.
Reserve seating or wheelchair space
With the o2 venues you can call in advance to reserve a seat or somewhere to park your wheelchair that won’t have much of a restricted view. I called up to a gig not too long ago, reserved a seat and had my own little bench for the night which had a great view of the stage and was in good distance from the bar for my friends to go to as well. Some venues may ask you to “prove” your disability (with PIP forms or a blue badge) upon application but it does differ from venue to venue. It is best to get in contact to see how they can accommodate your needs as much as they can.
I discovered that at some events you can get the choice to get a free carer ticket along with purchasing a ticket along to the gig. For example Glasgow Summer Sessions offer a carer ticket for your carer or companion to chum you along to the event and to help you out if you need it. I would recommend checking out the carer and accessibility options way in advance to avoid disappointment as the accessibility arrangements were to be organised with 8 weeks to go to the event. I did want to go to Glasgow Summer Sessions this year but I had left it too late for booking accessibility passes, I didn’t actually know about them until it was too late so it is something that should be marketed more.
If a wheelchair is not something you personally use then maybe seated tickets would be an option. Some venues do have a lot of stairs to get to seated areas so it would definitely be a good idea to call the venue in advance to see if you’d be able to manage the stairs or failing that use the lift if the venue has one.
For gigs with a disability it does take more organising than usual but you just have to be in contact with the venue and let them know your circumstances and see if they can accommodate your needs. Unfortunately spontaneous gigs aren’t really a thing for people with a disability unless the venue have space in the reserved area for you. If you plan in advance, I’m sure you’ll have a great night.