Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Gimp Seats

In England, when you call for accessible seating for a gig you often get a lower price.

Not so in the States, I rarely ask for accessible seating, unless it's a stadium show and I know I'll need to get anything like decent seats. I like being up close, as well, and I have this belief that it's better to fight for my close seating. I use my cane to do this, surely that counts.

I also take pride in the way I've gained the ability to stand during a show, so I hate admitting i can't always.

At the Kate Voegele show, I realized how stupid this is.

I went into the venue, bought a glass of wine to take the edge off of having wiped out in front of everyone on a busy T-train, and wandered over to the raised floor in front of the stage. I planned to stand on the side, maybe near on railing on one of he edges.

I hovered off to the side of the very from. In a small roped-off area a woman in a wheelchair and her friend stood. They asked me if I wanted to stand in front of them in their "special VIP section" wink-wink. I demurred for a second, but then decided what the heck.

I had an incredible view. I can't show you because my phone had to be wiped, but trust me. Incredible.

And while I talked with the two women I wondered why I don't usually click the "click here for accessible tickets" button on Ticketmaster. Sometimes I'm afraid if I do and they can't assist me I won't get tickets. This is stupid. Accessible seats rarely sell out. Sometimes I think it's because since I can stand/get to the front/whatever that I should.

Story time:

--The first time I saw Ingrid Michealson she was opening for Matt Nathanson. My friend and I left after she played. I sent her a MySpace message (Oh, 2008) thanking her and saying how I wished I could have stayed but I couldn't stand for long periods of time. She said next time she'd get me a chair. (Adorable, right?)

That time I did call the venue, they didn't have accessible seating because they didn't have seats.  But now I am partially in love with Matt Nathanson, and I regret not seeing him then. I wish I hadn't assumed I couldn't stand.

Contrast that with this:

--Last year at my fourth Ingrid Michaelson concert I almost passed out at House of Blues Boston. The stage isn't raised, and if you get to the front there are a thousand people behind you trying to push closer. Add that to body heat and a semi-tight belt on a dress and...yeah. By then I'd long ago stopped calling venues.

My new friend at the Kate Voegele concert told me at HOB if you call, they give you a place right by the stage.

Now, I have been to venues where the accessible seats aren't near the stage. At the WIlbur Theatre last year I encounter this seeing the first night of The Dresden Dolls two Boston shows, and I chose to stand the second night. But I got a seat spur-of-the-moment. Had I called ahead, I could have asked. (Or, I guess, MySpaced Ingrid again...)

And maybe that's it. Knowing that even if I ask for help, I don't have to take it if it won't make my experience the one I want. It's not asking for unfair advantage, it's asking to be able to see a show like anyone else and feel safe and pain-free doing it. I can stand if I have to, but I should always make sure I don't have to.

I know plenty of people who use wheelchairs and love concerts. They're not afraid to ask to have a place where they can see and rock out.

Why should I be?