The simple thrills of a ‘big night out’ are ones many young people take for granted. It’s just a part of growing up and growing into the person you were meant to be, surely? But for many disabled revellers who are just as eager to enjoy a night on the tiles as their able-bodied friends, there are just too many hurdles in the way that prevent them from being able to let their hair down in some of the UK’s biggest and best nightclubs.
Berlin is said to be the best city in the world for clubbing in a wheelchair, with LA, Las Vegas and New York not far behind. London, meanwhile, has a lot of catching up to do. A staggering 40% of UK nightclubs venues don’t even have a disabled toilet, let alone easy access. So, what is it really like to go clubbing as a disabled person in the UK in 2019? And what more should we be doing to help?
The most common thing that disabled clubbers complain about when asked how they are treated by staff and fellow clubbers on a night out is that they feel like everyone around them is being condescending. Next time you come across a disabled clubber, don’t feel the need to ask them if they are OK. If they were not OK, they’d be trying to find a way to leave.
Very few nightclubs are designed with disabled customers in mind. This means having to call ahead to check on accessibility. This can prove infuriating, particularly when the staff member on the other end of the phone doesn’t have a clue. It might severely limit their options, but ultimate-ly it will lead to less of their time being wastes. So, if you work at a club and somebody phones asking about disabled access, be as helpful and sincere as possible.
Getting a taxi at the end of the night is a top priority for anyone, but for someone for whom walking home isn’t an option, the need is significantly greater. Thankfully, companies such as Allied Mobility specialise in wheelchair accessible vehicles and taxis. So, if you run a taxi company, make sure you have at least one in your ranks ready to go.
They can be incredibly fun but nightclubs can also be hotbeds for stress. The noise, the flashing lights and the intoxicated denizens all make for an experience that can go wrong fast. Of course, disabled guests will still want to let loose with a few drinks, but they will always have one eye open. Be aware of this and help their nights to be as stress-free as possible. Be considerate and try not to get frustrated if they slightly inconvenience your night. They have just as much right to it as you do!