Friday, August 13, 2010

The accessibility of concerts (by Suzie)

Norah Jones soothed my anger and lifted my spirits this week, during a concert that reminded me why I rarely go to concerts anymore.

Online, I can see that the seats for people with disabilities are at the far left, at the end of aisles. Because a guy in the ticket office can't reassure me that these are decent seats, I opt for ones in the mezzanine. Angry at myself for not being assertive enough, I call the number listed for the person who handles disability issues, only to reach a recording telling me to call someone else. This person says she will exchange my seats for better ones that also accommodate people with disabilities.

In front of the venue are parking spots for people with disabilities, but they get taken quickly, and we have to pay $10 for a valet to park the car, sort of a disability tax.

Inside, my friend T is nimble on her metal crutches, making her way up and down three steps here, three steps there. Our seats are worse than before, and they aren't meant for people with disabilities. Furious, I run/walk downstairs to find a manager, while holding my urostomy pouch, lest it fall to my ankles, splashing urine everywhere. (Earlier, I had used pink tape , which I consider duct tape for the body, to secure the pouch, which was looking iffy.) Luckily, I'm not weak and in pain, as I am occasionally.

With the concert starting in minutes, the manager tells me to grab T and go to the opposite end of the mezzanine, where he will seat us properly, with no stairs to climb. The seats are better. She puts her crutches on the floor in front of her. After someone walks on them, we put them in a small gap in the seating in front of us, only to have people try to clamber over them.

Seats have cup-holders, and people are drinking up the courage to yell "Norah" and "We love you." The venue had warned people not to bring cameras or turn on cell phones. We are the only ones stupid enough to obey. At a break, T and I head to the accessible restroom, which has a sign saying that people with disabilities get priority, but no one in line pays attention. We try again after the concert, and the last able-bodied person to leave lets the door slam against T.

Other than that, how was the concert? Great, and I especially enjoyed the country songs. I had forgotten (thanks, Arimidex!) that Norah is a Texan as well as a New Yorker. From Texas Monthly:
In junior high I didn’t think it was cool to like country music, but truth is, I love it. I love all aspects of it—the music, the lyrics—but what comes through in my music is the drawl. Sometimes my accent gets kind of twangy and my piano playing gets more country than I ever thought it could be—there are all these little grace notes in my playing that I associate with country.
I felt the same way when I was growing up in an adjoining suburb and didn't fully appreciate the music until I moved away. Below are a few lyrics from her "Until the End." They pertain to my next post.
... from over here,
I can see you cry,
Don't even try ... to pretend.

'cause he's hurt you,
So many times,
Baby don't go back again.