Yesterday evening I went with Bunny, Fran and Keir to a fundraising night for a local play project. There was an incredible line up of live music and I had an amazing time. I took my wheelchair which, after some initial technical difficulties – getting in up some small steps – proved to have been a very good idea.
There were no seats in the venue so if I hadn’t brought my own I’d have ended up trying to stand up all night. I would’ve got worn out much more quickly and wouldn’t have enjoyed it anyway near as much.
Most importantly I wouldn’t have been able to dance. One of the big frustrations of going out, especially when the music’s good, is that when I want to dance my tics always interrupt. It’s hard to dance freely when your friends are holding you up on both sides to keep you on your feet. The wheelchair meant I had a stable base and was hands-free so I could dance more easily than I have in years.
As the night wore on and people got increasingly drunk I encountered some strange reactions to me and my chair. Based on this I’ve come up with some simple wheelchair etiquette that I would like strangers to follow when I’m having a night out:
No sitting on me
No kissing me
No suddenly wheeling me backwards away from my friends
(Obviously some of these rules can be broken with my permission.)
A lot of people tripped over my feet as they tried to squeeze past. Bunny and I looked on as the chair took down two men in a row and it was only her intervention that stopped a third following suit.
At one point the atmosphere changed and a scuffle broke out in a corner and I was suddenly aware of my vulnerability in the middle of a dance floor filled with so many people.
Overall though, there’s no doubt my new wheels enhanced an amazing night of music, dancing and friendship.