Wheelchair Users Guide to Clubbing
Posted by ROLAND REZNIK on June 30, 2016. 0 Comments
Going out clubbing for the night sounds easy enough. You get dressed, look good, call some friends and go to the club. While this is an easy process for able-bodied people, it is often an obstacle for wheelchair users. The getting ready part is great, but finding a club that is wheelchair accessible is a challenge. Learning to navigate the club scene will help make things easier on a night out with your friends.
Find an Accessible Club
Nightclubs are located worldwide. Not all of them are wheelchair accessible. Search online or call the club you are interested in visiting. Speak to the staff or manager to learn wheelchair accessible areas in the club as well as special entrances and exits that you need to use. Search online for pictures of the interior and exterior of the club.
Clubs that are two or more floors often have steep staircases and lack elevator access. You need to find out where these staircases lead to because it might be the floor the where the restrooms are located. If so, you might need to make other plans.
Clubs get crowded and barely provide any room to maneuver easily. As a wheelchair user, you might feel closed-in at times. This is generally due to being surrounded by people standing too close together and the lack of access to cool air. If you need to take a deep breath try to find a spot on the outer part of the crowd. This also gives you more space to move around.
Beware of Drunks
There are always people at a club that drink too much and can’t quite pull themselves together. These people are the ones you see stumbling around and barely able to walk up or down the steep staircases. Keep in mind that these heavy drinkers are a danger to you simply because they can easily trip and fall onto you causing injury. Do your best to avoid these people. If you find yourself in the path of a stumbling heavy drinker, do your best to maneuver away from their path.
If you are not able to get out of their way fast enough, use your voice or hand signals to get their attention. Also using a clever joke or comment can get their attention and help them notice you. Your goal is to lessen the risk of them tripping over you and causing you injury.
Friends to the Rescue
Usually, when people go clubbing they go with at least one friend or a group. Friends who are familiar with going out to crowded areas understand how to navigate through crowds, find hidden corners and areas to rest and stay out of trouble. If your friends are able-bodied they will most likely find casual ways to guide you to specific areas that the entire group can enjoy. Friends often have the ability to do this without making you feel like they are babysitting you.
Some friends are strong enough to carry your wheelchair up and down steep staircases if needed. This is an excellent solution to gaining access to otherwise nonwheelchair accessible areas. However, you should think ahead about how much your friends plan to drink that night. The last thing you want to do is have your heavily intoxicated friends carrying you and your wheelchair down a flight of stairs and losing their balance.
Public buildings are required to have wheelchair accessible bathrooms. Chances are there is an accessible one in the club you are going to visit. However, keep in mind that the accessible stall is sometimes occupied with able-bodied people throwing up, people having sex or it is simply used as storage for the club. Either way, the stall might not be accessible or available when you need it most.
This situation causes wheelchair users to plan their night out clubbing carefully. If you plan to go to one club for the night, limit your drinking so it lessens the number of times you need to use the restroom. There might be situations when you don’t have access to a restroom at all.
If you and your friends are planning to go to a few clubs in one night, you might be able to find an accessible bathroom at one of the clubs. Another option is to ask your friends to stop at a restaurant as you travel between club locations so you can use the restroom. Finding accessible bathrooms when clubbing is one of the top issues wheelchair users experience.
Wheelchair users deserve the same amount of respect as everyone else around them. However, keep in mind that when out clubbing you are usually dealing with intoxicated people who are just trying to have fun. You might be confronted with extremely cool people who will do everything they can to help you out, get you a drink, make a path for you and spend time getting to know you.
You might also come across people who will high five you because they are happy to see you out and having fun. You can expect to be confronted by the occasional idiot that will say something completely rude. But, these people usually have something negative to say whether you are a wheelchair user or not. Try your best not to take negative comments personally.
Safety is most important when partying at a club. You have to stay aware of your surroundings and be prepared for anything. Anyone that goes to a club knows occasional fights break out and can get out of control fast. Keep your focus, stay calm and find the nearest safe area or exit. Use your instincts when it comes to dangerous situations and remove yourself from the situation as quickly as possible.
As a wheelchair user, you can enjoy a fun night out with your friends at the club. You might have to go above and beyond to make it happen, but if you are in the mood for the club environment the extra effort is worth it. Find an accessible club, gather a group of your friends, beware of the highly intoxicated and find access to disabled bathrooms. Now that you are confident and prepared to navigate through a night at the club, start making plans!