As a lover of music, I am constantly drawn to the pure enjoyment of a live concert…no matter where it takes me. As an electric wheelchair user, sometimes getting to the actual concert can be more difficult than venturing through the crowds and finding my seat within the venue. I do not drive so I’m usually wrangling up friends to hit up some concerts throughout the year which ends up taking me to either Philadelphia or New York City (I live in Scranton Pa, about two hours from either city). Usually we will pile into my adaptive van and off we’ll go! Last night was one of those nights where I got to enjoy some live tunes. The bands Modest Mouse and The Black Keys were in Philadelphia to play at Wells Fargo Arena and we were not going to miss it. My friend Joe had purchased ADA tickets months ago so I really had nothing to worry about. Maybe nothing to worry about is an understatement of reality though, ensuring my motorized wheelchair is fully charged, parking, and other logistics are among some of the worries.
After dealing with the regular traffic of the Schuylkill expressway, we finally arrived to our destination. First we visited the Xfinity Live Center which is basically an enormous sports bar located near all of the arenas. While enjoying a few drinks and food, I took a moment to think about what it would be like to not have the ability to use safe seat elevation on my Quantum® 4Front®. Just about every table in the area I was in was a high-top table and all of my friends were gathered around one of these tables. Lucky for me, I raised my chair up to 10 inches and was at eye level with the guys and I could talk, eat and drink just like everyone else!
Shortly before the concert started, we made our way to the seats and settled in. The venue where the concert was at was an enormous bowl (Home of the Philly 76’ers) and I did not need to worry about someone standing in front of me ruining my entire view. I cannot tell you how often my view is greatly obstructed by people in my way at concerts, even from the ADA section! Fortunately, this is not as common these days due to my power wheelchair having safe seat elevation. As the concert went on, I was able to enjoy a great night of fun and music and had no worries about not being able to see the band.
Although last night’s concert wasn’t an issue of accessibility or view, I often come across these problems at smaller venues or places that offer general admission only. Just a few weeks ago I went to a small concert with general admission and I came across the dreaded sectioned off ADA area. Basically, this is a segregated area for wheelchairs within the general admission area. For me, there is nothing more annoying at a concert! When I’m at a concert, I want to be with the rest of the crowd, not separated from them, even if this means a dancer or two hits my chair or an extra tall fellow gets in my way every now and then. Having safe seat elevation on my electric wheelchair certainly makes concert mingling much easier. Hopefully in the future, concert venues will work harder to ensure obstruction-free ADA areas without creating a feeling of segregation!
About Christian Budney: Born and raised in Scranton, PA, Christian is a social worker and works with individuals with autism. He loves cold weather sports, particularly adaptive skiing. Click here to learn more about Christian.