Cum putem îmbunătăți cluburile pentru persoanele cu dizabilități? Când evenimentele se întorc în 2021 , cluburile trebuie să fie mai accesibile pentru oaspeții cu dizabilități și interpreți, care au fost adesea lăsați în urmă în cadrul culturii muzicii si dansului.
DJ Mag a vorbit cu diverse locații – Fabric, E1, 24 Kitchen Street și Sheaf St – și cu artistul cu dizabilități DeFeKT, despre cum clubbing-ul se poate îmbunătăți pentru toți.
Dance music has never appeared to be more accessible. Despite clubs being closed for over a year, new crews and initiatives are constantly popping up, and many businesses have been involved in conversations around diversity and inclusion; some have published transparency statements on subjects such as anti-racism and gender equality.
But the harsh reality is that despite this renewed visibility for progressive causes, disabled people are still being left behind. As UK clubs prepare to reopen, the industry needs to reflect on what clubbing really looks like for disabled guests and performers, and what clubs can do to better welcome them in 2021.
Matthew Flanagan DJs and produces electro as DeFeKT. With his curly hair and glasses, the Dubliner has become a recognisable face in booths from Berghain to Bassiani. In 2016, Matthew was enjoying a packed touring and release schedule — but everything changed that summer. He started having trouble walking, and chronic fatigue crept in. What felt like a bad hangover quickly worsened. After trying to hide his limp at a festival in Paris, a promoter commented that he was “walking funny”. Panic set in: “I had no idea what was going on with me, I was thinking it might be a stroke,” he remembers.
Matthew underwent tests and, in early 2017, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, a condition that affects the brain and spinal cord. MS can cause a wide range of symptoms, including problems with vision, arm or leg movement, sensation, and balance. “I was in the studio when the doctor called me with the diagnosis, and I completely fell apart,” he says.
The news hit Matthew particularly hard because he’d seen the effects of MS first-hand, after his father’s diagnosis. “This was something I had been scared of my whole life, that I might be next,” he says. (While MS is not strictly a hereditary condition, having a close family member with MS increases your chances of developing the condition.) After a difficult year, Matthew realised. “I had a decision to make: I was either going to let MS control me, or I was going to follow my passion. Music saved me, because it gave me something to focus on beyond MS.”
In the past four years, Matthew’s career has been routinely obstructed not by his disability, but by his interactions with clubs, promoters and staff. Although he admits that he hid his diagnosis in the early days — when curious people took notice he dismissed his limp as a still-healing broken leg — he was nevertheless shocked at the lack of access available, which he also admits he paid little attention to when he was able-bodied.
He also found that the lack of visibility and knowledge around disabled performers led to some promoters being ill-equipped to help. “It was very difficult,” he says. “I needed help getting into the club, down the stairs, onto the stage, but there was none of it. I know that there’s some accessibility in bigger clubs, but in many places, once you’re through the door, they just fucking forget about you.”
So what do we mean when we talk about accessibility? The venues DJ Mag and Matthew spoke to represent a broad spectrum of UK offerings: from multi-functional pop-ups, like Liverpool’s 24 Kitchen Street and Leeds’s Duke Studios group (who run Sheaf St, and the soon-to-open TestBed), to repurposed historical buildings and purpose-built spaces, like London’s Fabric and E1. Capacities and budgets vary, but most of the staff have sought advice from Attitude Is Everything, the UK charity working to improve deaf and disabled people’s access to live music, and all want to do more to improve disabled access in their respective venues.