06 Mar Concert Venues Assume Disabled People Are No Longer Music Fans
People like my brother all across the country have to go through the same hassle when wanting to purchase concert tickets
Going to a concert is a thing of the past for my brothers who were both diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis – an autoimmune disease that weakens your body.
There’s a show next month at the Beacon Theatre in Manhattan. It’s our mother’s favorite artist, Mariah Carey. My brothers planned on surprising her with tickets for the whole family to attend. This would be my brothers’ first concert since being diagnosed. Going to ticketmaster.com to purchase the concert tickets was the first real-world wake-up my brothers got that showed just how their life would be filled with hassle because of their disease.
“My life shouldn’t be filled with hassle,” Joshua says. “That’s the thing, yeah I have a disease. But the world should have caught up by now to make life more accessible for people like me.” People like him all across the country have to go through the same hassle when wanting to purchase concert tickets. Once you get to an online ticket seller you have the option of choosing what type of ticket you are looking for – standard admission or V.I.P. What he’s noticed is only some venues offer disability seating. The Beacon Theatre was not one of them.
“Yeah I have a disease. But the world should have caught up by now to make life more accessible for people like me.”
Joshua thought he was overlooking something so he called the 1-800 number provided. They validated his findings by confirming that it is up to the venue whether or not they want to offer disability seating for a particular event. We all still wanted to go to a concert as a family. So I looked up Marc Anthony tickets at Madison Square Garden. I found they don’t offer disability seating either. It’s absurd for some of these venues to think people with disabilities should be treated as second-class citizens. To think that my brothers’ passion for music magically went away when they got diagnosed is ignorant but sadly a representation of the stigma around disabled people.
We give up the search for concert tickets. Partly because even if we find a venue that has disability seating we don’t want to support the lack of widespread accessibility venues have. The other part is I can see the glimmer of excitement in my brother’s eyes of a family concert experience dim with each venue we can’t find tickets for. After all, he is my older brother and wouldn’t want to show signs of defeat in front of me. But after more than twenty years of being his sister, I can see it.
To think that my brothers’ passion for music magically went away when they got diagnosed is ignorant but sadly a representation of the stigma around disabled people.
We end up going to a Hispanic-heritage showcase held at a union building for the New York City Police Department. The layout is like a community center. It’s a relatively small room. The floors are tile, the lights are bright and unflattering, and the seating was surrounding the dance floor. It was simple to navigate; there were ramps, elevators and one floor with easy seating.
We stick around for the whole 2 hours, eating rice and beans and Chicharron de Pollo while watching underground artists perform salsa songs. It was no Mariah Carey concert but we made the best of it. It turned out to be a fun family night filled with laughter and Hispanic culture. But we still can’t help but think about the seemingly discriminatory practices concert venues have against disabled music fans and what can be done to fix these practices.
Samantha Bold is a writer from New York City. She is an avid music and sports fan and is really sad the Rams are in Los Angeles.