Wheelchair in Concert Venues

For the Love of Music P3

Keeping the flow going with my blog, writing, I’m not even going to mention what is going on outside my window or what’s on the news…. Just my experience of using my wheelchair in concert venues.

Heading down to the coast to a concert venue

If you have read my previous blog, you will be aware I have experienced big gig venues, but I prefer smaller ones like Reading Rivermead or Brixton. The Brighton Centre is also a good, smallish venue – in comparison to Wembley or the O2. Brighton also means a stayover. As travelling here involves using the dreaded M25, it takes longer to get to than a zip-up to Birmingham, but it is a shorter distance! So when I have tickets for gigs on the ‘sunny’ South Coast‘, I usually stay down for the night. I have driven there and back before in a day, but it makes a long, arduous day. If you’ve never been to Brighton, you’ll know it’s Wicked!. It’s bohemian, cool, stylish, and by the sea, a tad hilly depending on where you want to go, but the seafront is OK. 

wheelchair in concert venues
A quick pic catching me and the Pier.

Using confident wheelchair skills

Finding a hotel is the easy part; parking the car is a bit of a challenge, and it can frustratingly take some time to find a space. After locating the hotel, it would be wrong not to take a look around before the gig, enjoy the sea air, grab a bit to eat, check out what’s new on the seafront and relax. The paths on the northside of Kings Road – this road that runs parallel to the sea – are rubbish, lots of uneven paving slabs, quite severe camber and dropped kerbs. Confident wheelchair skills are an advantage. Dodging crowds on skinny paths can be interesting, and verbal independence really helps. Paths on the opposite side of the road, and below the promenade, along the beach’s edge, are a lot smoother and wider but more camber is the big challenge here.

After a meal and the decision to go and find our seats at the gig, wheeling towards the venue is fairly pleasurable as all the traffic or devotees are heading in a similar direction. Only the usual environmental challenges I need to take on to arrive safely and not look like an idiot by failing to negotiate a raised paving slab correctly, resulting in a crash and falling out of my wheelchair.

Wheelchair in The Brighton Centre

Arriving safely and looking at the far-reaching queue to get through security, the door steward sees me and waves my party and me forward, in this case, the wife and me. After a compulsory security check, we head in and check out the merchandise on offer, then straight to the bar for a pre-gig beverage before the queue is 20, or 30, or maybe more people deep….. Wheeling my wheelchair in concert venues is like playing dodge the fan. There big, smooth, but also hold a lot of people who need dodging!.

After finding our seats, and when it is my round, I’ve often been let through the crowd to the bar and allowed to queue jump, but these days more venue bars have a lowered counter at the edge of the bar. I head towards this. It is used by others but being as it’s designed for individuals with disabilities (I hate to use that word!), I feel sort of privileged that people are organizing their mates out of my way, allowing me to access it. “Two pints please, Gov’’, I shout to the bar person. I receive my drinks and head back to where I left the wife. I can carry one item and propel my wheelchair; admittedly, it is harder on carpet than lino or wooden flooring, but how do I carry two drinks?….

Thanks health and safety

It seems like part of health and safety that plastic drink holders, not plastic glasses because I don’t think there is such a thing as plastic glass – something for you to ponder after reading this edit? is supplied to carry beverages in. This is handy as I can hold one in my mouth after taking a couple of sips first to prevent any spillages. I meander through the crowd, holding the second drink holder in my hand to my wife. Remember, I can’t see over people’s heads, so I only catch quick glimpses of her through gaps in the masses now filling up the auditorium. In what seems like the eleventh hour in the long battle to propel myself towards her, she finally snatches a glimpse of me and starts to head over to grab the drinks……

wheelchair in concert venues
Heading to the Brighton Centre after a Look at the Sea Front.

Wheeling a wheelchair in concert venues can be interesting, fun and challenging. Freedom Wheelchair Skills can help build confidence to visit these places.

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