A music blog from Ireland.
Last night @luberachi wrote a blog post about her particular experiences of working as a music journalist in Dublin. Titled Staring At Crotches Should Be My Only Problem, Lou outlined the challenges faced by gig-goers with mobility issues. Aged 24, she regularly uses crutches to get around and has recently found that a wheelchair helps too, except when it comes to many of Dublin’s music venues and their facilities.
As Dublin is an old city, many of its buildings are preserved and protected, which can make the addition of ramps and lifts a little tricky, even though there is a legal obligation for all public spaces to be totally accessible.
As a music journalist and someone who is partial to the odd drink, I have noticed that so many music venues and pubs in Dublin are just not fulfilling these obligations.
Not even old venues but new ones that have been renovated recently have somehow skipped the legal requirements to provide for everyone.
Yes, the staff are very helpful and apologetic but I would like to see something done to make it easier for everyone.
While Louise is reticent in pointing out the venues that don’t have wheelchair access to bathroom facilities and other adjoining spaces, I’m not. Off the top of my head, I can think of a few places where gigs regularly take place that require some serious legwork to reach the bathroom: the
Button Factory,the Mercantile, Lower Deck, Shebeen, Tripod, Twisted Pepper, The Village, Workman’s Club, Whelan’s front bar and Upstairs venue…wow. That’s already the bulk of Dublin’s music hotspots. (It was nice to be informed that the struckthrough venues above do in fact cater to wheelchair users.)
The odd step is manageable, that is if you have a good friend to hoist you up, but flights and flights of stairs? I recently went to a music venue that you had to climb three flights of stairs to get into.
Not only must it be a daunting task to go out to a gig with a good, strong friend who can offer a hand but what about the nights that many of us take for granted when we fly solo? I can’t help but wonder just how many great gigs Lou must miss out on because it’s simply too much of a hassle to get from point A to B.
A number of venues say that they are accessible but when asked if they have a wheelchair bathroom, they say it’s in the hotel or restaurant or pub next door. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s great that there is an alternative but still, to go to the bathroom in a pub that you serve alcohol in, you are sending people in wheelchairs, on crutches, with bad backs, a limp, whatever, next door to pee.
Jeez. We’ve all been in the situation of being caught short by nature’s call at inopportune moments and have had to slink into premises’ foyers to sheepishly ask if it would be possible to use the loo. While some establishments with good ground-floor bathrooms may be more understanding to the needs of people like Louise, it really shouldn’t be a subject of discussion at all. The simple fact is that if a venue, pub or restaurant are prepared to take money from customers for the bladder-shrinking properties of alcohol, some of those proceeds should go towards presenting customers with equal opportunities to relieve themselves with ease.
Considering all of this, it’s not surprising that wheelchair users are a rare sight at gigs. Lou goes on to make the point that many wheelchair-accessible bathrooms are seldom used regularly and as a result, are treated as storage cupboards with smelly mops and other implements. This is something I can attest to as I’ve found by sneaking into unused bathrooms in city centre pubs such as Sin É. I’ve no idea how any wheelchair would fit into the space that was filled with boxes, stacks of toilet rolls, yellow mop buckets and various other bar room detritus.
As Louise is a journalist she’s in a better position than most to describe the situation and requirements that music fans with mobility limitations face in this city. It’s really not a big deal to ask for a clean, comfortable experience when setting out for a night sampling the delights of the music scene, is it? In her words:
It’s really not that difficult. Minimum amount of stairs and steps and an accessible bathroom WITH a mirror – in your venue, not anyone else’s.