Music May 16, 2023 at 10:40 am

And They Don’t Seem to Want to Change

"I played a great set that night, but that splinter was stuck in my butt for nine months." Allison Vu



Good for you raising awareness, but your racism is disheartening.


"I personally believe that if it was exclusively white dudes who couldn't get into venues or up on our stages, cost wouldn't be an issue."

I guess she has never been to Europe because very few of the buildings there meet any type of ADA compliance. It's great to raise awareness as @1 has stated but how does ceasing to do something you love change anything? This reminds me of a certain local activist in the area who committed to not performing rap anymore because it was cultural appropriation. It's public self flagellation for the sole purpose of attention and does nothing to help her cause. The arts community has always been on the forefront of inclusiveness and demonizing them over things that are hard to accomplish even with the best intentions is yet another reason why progressives alienate support from the broader community.


"It costs too much."

No. And yes. I can build a decent wheelchair ramp that will get an FDA standard chair where it needs to go. But if I do so and someone can't get their Walmart Wide model up it, I'll get sued under ADA regs. So if I have a grandfather clause to fall back on, I'll do so.


People have no idea what disabled people face on a daily basis. And we're talking before COVID, because everything is so much worse now. Disdain for disabled people and any inconvenience their existence puts upon non-disabled people is so high and met with extreme hostility.

The ADA is nearly 33 years old. Doesn't mean businesses adhere to the ADA. Doesn't mean the DOJ will enforce the law when a disabled person files a complaint about an ADA violation. I have filed numerous complaints only to be met with a letter stating the DOJ isn't going to do anything about it (and yes it's literally their job to enforce federal law, to enforce the ADA, and to make sure any entity not in compliance is forced to make the necessary changes to comply). And all the while entities are still allowed to get out compliance by declaring the burden of cost.

Almost all places that may look to an outside that they are ADA compliant, don't work for actual disabled people, not really (if at all), not safely, and certainly not the way they are meant to - which is to simply allow a disabled person to navigate the world as closely to a non-disasbled person as possible. The only bathrooms at OHSU that accommodate wheelchairs are single person bathrooms - so you are SOL if you are in one of their buildings that only have multi-person bathrooms.

I became sick in 2006/2007 and have been disabled (on a progressive trajectory > walking with canes, with one leg brace, to two leg braces, to a walker outside, to a walker inside and out, to needing a wheelchair almost entirely except for the tiny amount I insist on dragging my lower body around my own home with a walker - and that's just the simple, sanitized, least detailed description of my daily reality and everything my disease and disability have taken from me and continue to take from every single day). The biggest violators of the ADA other hotels? Hospitals, doctors office, dentists, and other health care providers. Even brand new shiny buildings built, CHH #2 on the waterfront OHSU's newest shiny building or my dentist here on the coast who built a brand new building a few years after we moved here in 2015.

I was born obsessed with music. When I left college, I spent my life going to shows, volunteering and working in the music industry. I have an incredible amount of knowledge regarding the music industry and it's disregard for disabled people. One small example, long before I became disabled, is all of the shows I saw at the Bowery Ballroom in NYC. See, to enter the BB you have to go down a huge staircase after being let in the door, where you find yourself downstairs by the bar and that's where the bathrooms are. Then you go up a different staircase to get to the area where the stage is, which is two levels (so more stairs). And even the bands had to climb stairs to get into the venue, load in and load out the gear, and get to/from the green room, etc.

The number of shows I saw as an able bodied person is in the thousands. The number of shows I have been to since becoming disabled is probably less than 10. If a venue is in any way accessible, that doesn't mean it's ADA compliant and if a venue is in any way accommodating to a disabled person, that doesn't mean a disabled person is going to be able to manage being at that show safely, let alone comfortably.

The last live show I saw in Seattle (on a visit from NY after I had had to leave Seattle years before) was at Neumo's when I had my walker. The venue kindly let me have a seat in the back of the venue at a GA show since I couldn't stand and needed the walker to walk. Great > until I had to go the bathroom (the venue does not even remotely have bathrooms that are accessible, not with a walker, not with a wheelchair, not in an way at all). Add to that the wasted POS that threatened to beat me up with my own walker when trying to make it through the crowd to get to the bathroom. I had never been so fucking enraged and I got in her face and threatened her saying I'd be happy to fight back, if that's where we at now, beating up disabled people with their own mobility aids.

In Portland at the Doug Fir (now moving to another location) stated they could accommodate me when my friend's band played in 2017. What that looked like was being pushed in my wheelchair down a steep entrance into a parking garage, through a door, down a long, narrow, jam packed with kegs and other stuff, path into the venue room where I was put at a table and told "I hope you won't have to go to the bathroom, because the bathroom is upstairs." And while the staff was really nice getting us into the venue, when the show was over, we were on our own. My elderly mother had to push me back through that crazy path and up the steep incline out of the parking garage (which BTW had a car entered we would have no safe way to get out of the and would have been seriously hurt if not killed).

Lately, I really wanted to go to a Yeah Yeah Yeahs show, since I was living in NYC when they were playing single digit $ shows at Brownie's on Avenue A and parking lots in Williamsburg (yes that parking lot show in Meet Me in the Bathroom). The nearest show to me is in Troutdale, OR. It's in a field. It's GA and all ages. They have an area set aside for the disabled - a platform (if facing the stage) on the far right - most likely directly in front of speakers - and oh yeah there's no way to drive up to where that platform is because everyone has to park miles away from the big field and even though you can drive closer if you're disabled, you're gonna have to get your wheelchair (or whatever mobility aid you use) through the field to the platform. And then? Bathrooms? I have had to use a port-a-potty when using canes and even with a walker (when I could still stand and use the walks of the potty instead of bringing my walker in with me - but with a wheelchair? There is no way.

Disabled people are sidelined in almost every way from every activity in life and that was BEFORE COVID. Now disabled people are sidelined even more. As I watch live music come roaring back and bands I love play show after show after show after show after show after show after show with huge crowds, in places I would never, ever be able to go to (or if I could get there, would never be safe), I am just grow more and more angry. Because I shut down my life for over three years, a life already so limited that any able bodied person would whine endlessly, so that I wouldn't get COVID. And somehow, despite all of that caution, I caught COVID anyway. And there is no way to not get it again, even by taking all the same caution for the rest of my life


This article is about music venues being ableist and those who are able bodied will say this has nothing to do with COVID, but it does. COVID exposed just how little anyone in this country cares about anyone at all they can point their finger at and blame for their situation - who cares about the elderly, disabled, or anyone else, right? All you have to do is revisit all of the comments made during the three years of the pandemic. All you have to do is see what is happening now.


More than three years into the pandemic, it's clear that returning to normal cultivates more contagious and immune-evasive variants. Yet in his State of the Union address, Biden assured the public that "COVID no longer controls our lives." This ignores the millions of high risk Americans who have been forced to the periphery of society to survive, the 11% of US adults who currently have Long Covid, and the more than 40,000 Americans who have died from COVID-19 in 2023 so far. COVID-19 is the third leading cause of death in the United States and those deaths fall disproportionately on the vulnerable. But Biden's language shifts blame onto the victims. It implies that people who lost their lives to failed public health policy were simply "letting" COVID control their lives.


I am really amazed that there is not a Washington State chapter of ADAPT.


I was a regular attendee of many a Seattle concert and club night until I got a perma busted ankle & can’t do stairs anymore. Haven’t been out much since because venues & events aren’t navigable. Not to mention getting to the venue! Thanks for this story & I hope it encourages good change in venue access and how party people treat each other.


@2 What-about-Europe is hardly a valid excuse for the lack of consideration here. Your query as to how does ceasing to do something you love change anything indicates you concluded (presumed?)—erroneously—that she stopped because she wanted to make a statement. You didn't notice that she didn't notice that she had gradually curtailed and stopped her activities and there was no manipulative self-flagellation, not even later, when she realized what had happened. Upon understanding why she did it, she merely wrote an article pointing out to other humans that they were behaving in the self-centeredly callous manner that every human is capable of—no surprise there, certainly not demonizing. But calling it so enabled you to falsely rationalize resentful non-cooperation by the community as the consequence; then the verdict is a no brainer—The lack of accommodations is all your own doing!

Nicely done! I could get free gaslighting lessons here! Try this instead: What the author was trying to avoid was the humiliation from being reminded that she was a "less than" who didn't merit the consideration or effort of other able-bodied humans to help without demeaning. That feeling of being judged not-worthy-enough is traumatic, a vestigial emotion left over from the evolutionary days when humans learned that belonging to a pack was vital for survival. The pack members communicated and coordinated to act in concert to fend off and outwit formidable predators, ensuring survival of all members of the pack. Being expelled from the pack to roam as an individual meant imminent death—a terrifying thought.

It's why acceptance by the clan is a fundamental need per Abraham Maslow, that manifests right after the needs for food, shelter and security. If it is not satisfied, higher order needs like self-grooming, sanitation, working, raising kids, bettering society, saving the world, etc. won't manifest. It is why oppressed, abused, isolated and dehumanized people feel such despair that they may consider suicide. I hope someday, the author's narration of having to crawl on the floor of a port-a-potty for days in a row will no longer seem to you as manipulative self-flagellation.

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