Clubbing with a disability

Clubbing is a huge aspect of uni life. Everyone’s dancing in an often small space and the night usually consists of clubbers stumbling over each other, spilling drinks and pushing to get to the front or find their friends. But what about those who are less able? Can they not enjoy the night too?

While there are many clubs nowadays that are disability accessible, there are still so many that are not. As a student at Leeds, I could definitely make a list of such clubs. And what about the flashing strobe lights? Yes, they’re part of the fun, but what about those who suffer from epilepsy? Are they not allowed to go out and have fun like everybody else? Not to mention the bouncers; while some bouncers are extremely helpful and accommodating, others are not.

For me, I have a loss of peripheral vision and a left side weakness which often causes slight clumsiness, and far too often I have been rejected from clubs for tripping over my own foot and apparently being ‘too drunk’ to enter, often without evidence that I’d even drunk anything. I’m not the only one. Yes, I understand that it is for your own safety to not allow you into a compact room full of other drunk people if you’re on the verge of a blackout, but is it really any safer to leave a young woman outside alone in the cold? Just because one’s disability may not be physically obvious, that doesn’t mean that it’s not there.

My advice for anyone trying to go clubbing with a disability would be to bring a screenshot of a letter or email from your doctors explaining your disability to show to the bouncers. Often if you do this, they’ll even let you skip the queue and go through a different entrance.

But what about once you’re in? For some people with disabilities or anxieties such as claustrophobia, being pushed about in a crowded space can prove difficult. But is there anywhere to go while still enjoying the music and wild antics that club culture has to offer? I haven’t seen many apart from the university club in our union. And what about toilet access? Why are they always in the basement or up a flight of stairs? I mean, it’s only common that everyone needs to break the seal at some point in the night, so why hide the toilets?  

If you’re clubbing with a disability, one thing you can do is check the accessibility of the club online before going and telling someone who works there should you need help. 

However, making clubs more accessible to those with disabilities is an issue that needs to be recognised and fixed, and the only way of doing so is by promoting it more whether you have a disability or not.

Tilly O’Brien

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