Clubbing in a wheelchair shouldn’t be weird

Why do people feel the need to tell me how much they respect me on a night out?


Nights out are free flowing and easy going right? Not quite when you are going out in a wheelchair.

So you are going to have a night out. It’s probably Friday or Saturday night but et’s be honest, being a student is the only time you can go out any day of the week and still not be labelled an alcoholic.

I like going out as much as any other student, and I make the best of it, usually having a great night.

Unfortunately, most of the negative points of my night come from strangers not knowing how to act around me, and that’s really annoying.

There are also some ‘little’ issues when going out any ‘normal’ person could potentially very easily miss, which you should know about.

Pre-drinks is a good place to start. If it’s not in the comfort of your own kitchen, you can probably kiss goodbye to a smooth pre-outing piss up. Halls in Reid are littered with those sneaky little steps into the blocks and then there are small narrow ship-like corridors everywhere else.

12282817_10205600020106376_269521910_nAs for the other blocks, given the unreliability of some of the lifts I’ve had the pleasure to go in (or not to go in), it’s probably best not to even talk about those. Oh and sorry Kingswood, the likelihood of me getting my wheelchair down to you is not high.

But let’s say you have your pre-drinks relatively smoothly, you have fun adventures in the lift with some of your courageous friends or you’ve been thrown into blocks by your stronger ones, everything is fine (and maybe even more fun) as you head down to the club for the night.

Taking Medicine as the destination for this night out, your first obstacle comes in the form of dread, as you make your way down the steepest hill you have ever seen, knowing you will have to push or be pushed up it at a later, more drunken, stage of the night.

You queue up with your friends making the most noise possible, indicating to everyone in a ‘subtle’ way that your night is going to be and has been far superior to anyone else’s there. Everything is going fine. For now.

As you cruise into Medicine with gang of friends, you might notice, if it’s past 11:30, that there are lots of people around. Which would be a great thing until you realise that 90% of those people are crowded around the bar and there is now no hope of you ever ordering your own drink tonight.

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Here comes the worst part of any night for any wheelchair bound student: the sheer isolation you feel being in a club full of chatting people when all your friends have scurried off into the maze of people to get to the bar.

A maze completely off limits to wheelchairs for fear of death stares from people as you try and make your way past them, or the shriek of a person you have ‘accidentally’ run over. But hey, your lone wait might not be in vain as you might find friends come back with an extra drink that they kindly gift to you for your sacrifice.

You proceed then to have a normal night, kind of. Your night is dotted with people coming up to you dancing with you or asking you to “pop a wheelie”.

Because, of course, my instrument for getting around is something you only play with in empty halls of hospitals.

12283013_10205607230086621_1637874631_nMy personal favourite though is when people come up to me to pay their respects, as if me going out,  as a student in a wheelchair was a decision I made that took huge amounts of courage. That’s like saying you respect a person with blue eyes for also making the choice to go out.

Yeah, it’s weird.

For you smokers our there (myself included), you won’t be able to socialise when having a cigarette because there are steps down to the smoking area, and by this time people are too drunk to be able to help.

After all this though, as you arrive back home after you’ve been pushed back up the hills, you realise you had a good time… in fact, your difficulties might have even proven to add to the excitement of the night.

But in all honesty, if you wanted an easy going night with your friends and with just as much alcohol, it would have been much better to sit in your kitchen and play ring of fire until you all pass out head first on the table.