When I first heard about Under One Roof, I was overjoyed. Our city is providing more and more safe spaces for all races, genders, backgrounds, cultures and religions which is brilliant, of course. However, I can’t help but feel like the disabled community are still extremely over-looked. Why?
Only now are we finally seeing disabled people in TV adverts, but where are the magazine covers? The billboards? The successful actors, actresses, musicians etc.? And back to the point – where are the disabled-friendly venues and nights? We often take for granted how easy it is to just ‘go out’ with our mates and/or our siblings. For adults with learning/physical difficulties, this is often not even an option. Here steps in Under One Roof.
Growing up with a mentally and physically disabled brother, I’m sadly very well-acquainted with the stares and the comments while pushing him down the street in his wheelchair. Yet, it completely bemuses me that seeing someone like Adam is still such a shock to some people. (Adam has recently been diagnosed with GRIN2B after years of research into his condition). It seems that handicapped people are still so underrepresented that often they are misunderstood and almost… feared. So, when our good pal Becca Frankland told us that she’s bringing Under One Roof to Liverpool, I was uplifted with gratitude and hope that maybe we are heading towards a more inclusive society.
The creative mind behind Under One Roof is Alice Woods of Meat Free. With five years experience in running club events (including Meat Free, the Manchester-based house and techno party), Alice wanted to provide a space especially for music lovers with learning disabilities. With several successful raves happening at Manchester’s Texture over the past year, the night now resides in YES, a multi-purpose venue which also enables ravers to experience a bar setting.
Fortunately, Under One Roof isn’t the only organisation addressing the stigma surrounding disability. Life You Choose, a non-profit organisation, provides support to adults with learning difficulties so they’re able to participate in arts and multimedia-based projects. This includes hosting quarterly club nights at Club HQ in Glossop, a safe and welcoming environment inviting ravers from all over Greater Manchester and Derbyshire. Read more about it here.
However, with a general lack of music funding, closure of custom venues and the rise of repurposed warehouses, there are far more inaccessible clubbing spaces than accessible. When we’re on a night out, our first thoughts aren’t exactly “I’m so thankful I can use the toilet, reach the sink, and get served at the bar!” But for people in wheelchairs, these are common hurdles that easily deter them from wanting to leave the house at all. Leeds-based clubber Inga, who has congenital cerebral palsy, says “when a club has no access you can feel hugely rejected, all the while knowing your pals are having fun without you.” Meanwhile in Canberra, Australia, clubber and DJ Daniel also faces challenges since an accident left him quadriplegic. Before even heading out he needs to phone up venues to check three main things: “accessibility, can you get around and is there an accessible bathroom… Venues will fail at least one most of the time”. But, we are starting to see improvements. Our clubbing capital London has a number of accessible, disabled-friendly venues, which The Evening Standard has compiled a list of here.
Making it’s Liverpool debut at District, Under One Roof will take place on Thursday 13th June at 6:30pm. It is wheelchair-friendly, welcoming and an accommodating environment that isn’t too overwhelming for those with heightened senses. Don’t get us wrong, like any other rave there’s still club lighting, music, a bar (serving both soft and alcoholic drinks) and a well-established DJ – in this case, no other than Greg Wilson. The invite is also extended to carers, friends and family, and aims to provide an experience that will build people’s confidence to hit a ‘mainstream’ club.
Although, Alice says “in an ideal world, I’d like Under One Roof to go away. I’d like it if there were no need for it”. Shouldn’t it be considered the norm for a person with a learning disability to go to a club? Shouldn’t there be wheelchair access everywhere? Perhaps schools and societies have taught us that disabled people are separate from the rest of us, but the reality is – why should they be? So, let’s smash down those stupid barriers! Spread the word, show some love and if you’re free, get down to Under One Roof for a little boogie yourself.