How to Concert: ADA style

Concerts. I love them. Don’t ask how many concerts I’ve attended, because the number does not exist. It’s a lot, and ever growing. It’s exhilarating. It’s social. It’s music. Music is proven to heal, increase your mood, and your lifespan. As with anything with a disability, it’s a little different – but I see it as an opportunity, not a barrier. I always accept the concert-going challenge.

My First Concert

The only thing I remember about my first concert was thinking to myself “I’m six years old, and I’m out past my bedtime. This is cool.” I know it was Rick Springfield (or Styx – no clue which came first) I don’t think I went to another concert until the summer between 7th and 8th grade. I went to a country music festival (that you couldn’t pay me to go to now) that started my love of music – and the concert life.

My First Meet & Greet Experience

My first concert at an actual arena was Rascal Flatts (to this day still a total fangirl). I had no idea what to expect, so it totally threw me off when a radio DJ handed me a radio meet and greet. It feels like you just won a Golden Ticket every time that happens. My first meet and greet I know I tried to take Jay DeMarcus home as a pet. It’s the first of many hilarious encounters.

How to Concert

How do I concert? It depends. It depends on the venue, on the day, on the time, and on my people. Yes, my people. I have great concert-going friends. Over the years, we’ve learned what’s best for us and how to fight (respectfully) to make sure we all have a great experience. Not every experience can be absolutely perfect, but I can say I’ve never hated any concert experience. (There was this one time – but management made up for it – so it’s forgiven)

We always make a game plan. Whether it’s making sure we have enough time to get there early, calling to make sure they know I’m going to be there, talking to security (I’ve had my own security guards on multiple occasions) – there is always a way to make sure I get a fair shot. The ADA is there to fall back on, but there’s no law saying you can’t do whatever what makes you comfortable. I like pushing the envelope. 

The Concert Life

Ninety-nine percent of the concerts I go to are general admission. Meaning, the people in the front of the line will most likely be heading to the front row. (Or if you’re in Nashville, the good seats at the bar) Arriving a few hours ahead of time and line-sitting can be as much fun as the concert. I met most of my best friends waiting in a line. By most, I mean all but one of my friends – And I have the best friends in the world. To me, a concert is more of a social event than seeing the artist. I mean, meeting the artist is cool and it’s fun to reconnect a year or two later to realize how much has changed in that time, but to me, it’s more of catching up with friends that have that same feeling when they hear their favorite song live.

When I Hated The Rave

Some venues do let people with disabilities in the venue first IF asked (or you have a connection inside) This is why you always make friends with security, managers, the band. I’M NOT SAYING ABUSE YOUR POWER. I will never ever, ever step over the line (I mean, I can’t step anyway) but use your resources. Don’t beg, plead, poor me. The most effective way to get in early is to say, “Hey, I don’t want to get trampled or hurt anyone else. Can I get a five-second head start?” Works A LOT of the time.

If I’m not there early enough, my friends and I will work our way to a spot I can see. It’s not always the front row. Sometimes it’s a balcony. Unless it’s The Rave and they tell me the balcony is accessible but there’s a STEP TO THE BALCONY. But The Rave and I have made up. We’re cool now. Their security is fantastic.

Think of Others

Not everyone in the crowd can see either. If you’re short, stuck behind a tall person it’s unfortunate, but you’re there for the music and as long as there’s a friend with you it’s all okay because that’s what concerts are for… listening to music, and friendship. I don’t EXPECT special treatment just because I am in a wheelchair. I know I DO get it sometimes. // SHOUTOUT TO THE MAN WHO GAVE ME MAREN MORRIS MEET AND GREET LAST YEAR //

I try not to get too used to it, because I don’t want to expect it, and demand more than equal. I’m entitled to an equal experience as an able-bodied person. Nothing more. I can’t expect water bottle service in the front row every concert. (Same Maren Morris concert – The Rave and I really made up)

Other Issues

I have also learned that there are just some venues I won’t deal with anymore. There are festivals I won’t attend because, while they’re “accessible”, they’re almost impossible without help, and they’re not worth the crowd, time, energy, money. Certain festivals are great (Summerfest, CMA Fest) others are muddy and grassy, and rocky and gross. They’re just so much work, and they’re in the summer so they’re hot with no easy way out. But it’s okay, there’s always another concert.

Always Another Concert

There’s always another concert… says the person who went to a Dan + Shay concert every month for six months straight. But they’re the sweetest people, so I have no regrets. Guys, if you happen to read this – love you, mean it. Miss you, mean it. Since I’ve been sick for like a year – exaggeration – I have to remind myself that they’ll be back.

Except for Justin Timberlake. I’m going to that concert even if it’s the last thing I do. You only see JT once. (Yes I’ve mentioned JT in like three blog posts, but I’m really serious about JT – also it’s gonna be May soon – so it’s prime JT season) I’ll enjoy that concert from the last row because at least I’m there. I’m there, and I’m alive and music makes me happy no matter how I enjoy it.

 

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