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Disability And Gigs: Do They Mix?

As somebody who’s dealt with a physical disability for my entire life, it’s always been very easy for me to simply invent my own ways of dealing with life on a day-to-day basis.

They might be slightly unconventional for most people, but they allow me to go about my business without it fully registering in my head that I’m ‘different’ to those around me, not to mention the fact that I’ve never known any different anyway.

To me, all of the quirks of my daily life such as using a walking frame, holding people’s hands to walk (always the same hand too) and wearing insoles to minimise any pain in my feet are normal. My normal.

It seems ironic then that while these things generally allow me to live life as fully as I possibly can, one of the most joyous things anyone could ever experience serves as a stark reminder for me that actually, maybe I’m really not like everyone else – I am of course talking about going to gigs.

My name is Sadie Marchant and I love live music. I also happen to have cerebral palsy, and in an effort to shed some light on the gig-going experience for many disabled people all over the country, I thought I'd share my experience.

Before this starts veering into the territory of a pity party I want to make it clear that going to gigs is something I’ve adored for years now – the anticipation of getting to the venue, watching the crowd swarm in and waiting anxiously for the lights to dim before your favourite artist walks out on stage to what can only be described as a roar is enough to make even the most cynical person’s hairs stand up on the back of their neck – it’s just that sometimes I leave venues questioning whether I’ve been a bit short-changed to say the least.

The first major hurdle, and the one that bugs me the most, is the fact that the nature of my condition means that I can’t be ‘in amongst it’ like everyone else.

Standing up for somewhere around 2 hours would kill me (as I regrettably found out when I went to see Spanish band Hinds live in Cardiff only to find out at the last second that the venue had been changed to somewhere with absolutely no seating whatsoever), so don’t get me wrong I’ve long since come to terms with the fact that a mosh pit may as well be a pipe dream for me.

The real problem, however, lies in the unpredictability of each venue...

Sometimes the disabled viewing platform will be nicely nestled into the crowd, not too far away to make you feel detached but also not too close that the view is nothing but the back of people’s heads. However, some venues insist on putting the disabled area so far back that the people on stage may as well be tiny specks.