In the days before MS I was a fairly regular concert/theatre goer. I loved seeing bands play live and our occasional trips to London to see shows on the west end was another favourite treat. As my MS has progressed and my mobility has become more troublesome the idea of undertaking any of these excursions has become more and more frightening. From experience I know that concerts and shows can mean public transport and a lot of walking to get to the venue, steps to get to your seats and crowds of people. That’s not counting the trek to the loo and the queues when you get there, which to be honest is a big issue for people with MS. Each one of these concerns individually is enough to put me off but, all lumped together, had me thinking that my concert going days were over. So much so that when Guns ‘n’ Roses played here I didn’t even entertain the idea of going although I’m a big fan and knew other people who were going. (I don’t entirely regret not going – did you see the rain that day!!)
A friend of mine is a massive Paul Simon fan and her birthday was in June. Paul Simon is on his Homeward Bound tour this year and was due to play Dublin on July 13th – the perfect birthday present. So I finally bit the bullet and purchased my first wheelchair accessible seating.
I’m not a regular wheelchair user. I’m choosing to persevere with the whole walking thing but as I can’t walk very far or stand for too long I am quite restricted. I borrowed my mum’s mobility scooter and booked disabled parking at the venue (RDS). As the scooter doesn’t actually belong to me I felt like a fraud when thinking about accessible concert tickets, but I definitely couldn’t have gone without it.
So how did we get on on the day? My friend was amazing, she helped me get the scooter out of the car and assemble it. I needed it to get from the car park to the accessible area, it was quite a trek. To be honest we spotted a lady in a wheelchair and followed her as we didn’t know where to go and didn’t see any signs to point the way. As it happened she was at the concert alone so we all sat together for the evening. She recognised quickly that I have MS as she has a close friend with it too. She has gone to many concerts so was a wealth of advice and really reassuring. I’m glad I met her.
I was really concerned about being in the accessible area but there was a kind of comradery there. Everyone understood their own difficulties and had empathy for each other. Any guilt I felt was entirely self inflicted.
Paul Simon was absolutely amazing, he played all my favourites and the atmosphere in the arena was brilliant. We swayed, tapped our toes (well my left foot did its best but the right was having none of it) and sang along at the top of our voices. I thoroughly enjoyed the day. The concert organisers gave each of us a bag with a bottle of water, a poncho in case of rain and a blanket if it got cold in the evening. I thought this was a lovely touch and the blanket really came in useful. It was a great experience to share with my friend, so much so we’re off to see Def Leppard in December 😀I’ve also booked seats for a show in the Bord Gais theatre – there’s no stopping me now!
So as usual I have a few things I’ve learnt that may be helpful or may quash some of the concerns that stop you booking accessible seating. I might have done it sooner if I had realised its not as scary as I had imagined.
- Bring snacks or buy your food early, queues for the food vans were huge
- If you are buying water they will take your lid, however a lady there was allowed to keep her lid as they said it was medicinally necessary, worth a try?
- Don’t rush out when the concert ends, there are so many people leaving that getting around is more difficult. Besides if you have parking like we did they let the pedestrians go before you can drive out. We were sitting in the car for ages, better to stay in the grounds.
- I can only speak about the facilities at the RDS but they had a designated disabled toilet, fully accessible, and a loo for just the disabled area, so not far away and no queue – brilliant
- Don’t be shortsighted like me, I was warm so went to the concert in light clothes with a light cardigan for later. I was shivering by evening hence the free blanket was awesome
I’m always open to any thoughts or suggestions that could make my life easier so if you have any tips for concerts that work for you then please feel free to share 😀
So there you have it. My concert going days are not over. Yet again MS has tried to spoil things, but although I resisted the solution, I found a way round the problem. I’d still rather walk but whatever. Take that MS! 😠