New, exciting thing I’m doing now – reviewing shows and promotions via their accessibility! Because I’m sick and tired of being told everything’s accessible and then being shown some stairs! And not knowing whether I can use the toilet at a venue! And having people be sarcastic to me on social media when I suggest they put accessibility info on their website!
Let’s start with my conditions: I have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, which means I tire easily, and that I’m in constant pain. Just being brushed against, or hugged, hurts me a lot of the time, as I feel pain more strongly than most people. I have joints that dislocate due to a disorder that affected my ball-and-socket joints, and find walking, standing, and stairs very difficult and very painful. Even sitting in a chair is painful for me – I write all my articles from a reclined position on our spare bed, because that’s the only way to avoid large amounts of extra pain. If I tire or become stressed, I can collapse, or have seizures.
(For US friends: while violating the ADA can mean fines of up to $150,000, there are no such fines for not allowing disabled access in the UK. Whilst the 2010 Equality Act states that it makes illegal:
- indirect discrimination – putting rules or arrangements in place that apply to everyone, but that put someone with a protected characteristic at an unfair disadvantage
basically, if someone doesn’t want to make space for me? I’m fucked. They don’t have to. Or even if I’m reading the law poorly, there’s no penalty for doing so without me taking them to court. Keep that in mind.)
So, I was really excited to book tickets for Fight Club: Pro‘s first night of the Dream Tag Team Invitational. I had many plans – I was going to watch some bloody good wrestling, I was going to pet some good wrestleboys, and I was going to meet some friends. Because we were getting British Strong Style vs. The Elite, I didn’t want to wait on tickets, so I actually bought them before checking accessibility, which I wouldn’t normally risk. Apparently, for a few pretty faces, I’ll consider passing out on some floor, three hours away from home!
Thankfully, I got lucky. I’ve never had anywhere strive to meet my needs so fully as FC:P, I’ve never felt more like it was perfectly acceptable for me to need extra help and to know about access beforehand. They did a brilliant job of making me feel comfortable, safe, and taken care of, and everything was no problem, done with the minimum amount of fuss, and made me feel like asking for help wasn’t a big deal. That’s important.
Discussion of Access
As mentioned above, discussion was simple, easy, and I was replied to frequently. All our conversations were in Twitter DMs, which is my first go-to usually, and the responses were clear, empathetic, and polite. Sometimes I had to go back and remind them that I’d asked a question, or double check for a response, but overall, incredibly positive. 9/10
Physical Access – Discussed
I was told that all areas were ground floor, that toilets were freely accessible, and that there was also a disabled toilet if I preferred to use that – however, I was told this by another attendee, not by the promotion themselves. I was also drawn a helpful map as to where I could park at ground level, and have only a short, ground level walk to the venue – also from another attendee. The promotion themselves neither confirmed nor denied this.
I asked about the best place to sit for crowd spot avoidance, and was given no answer, but I understand that’s a little more complicated. I do, however, think that setting one side of the ring as a ‘no crowd spots’ area wouldn’t hurt matches too much, and would provide room for those with mobility issues, pregnant people, older people, and anyone who just doesn’t want their beer jostled because someone’s got a thing for death-defying leaps.
I was told not to worry about standing in queues to meet people/get stuff signed, because there would be chairs available. 7/10
Physical Access – Actual
I didn’t have to queue, I was instead let in early, along with my carer in the first instance, and with my group of four in the second, and was able to sit down to wait, before taking my seat. We picked near where the wrestlers would enter on the basis that, four rows back, we were unlikely to have to move. We were right, but only by about one row!
There were steps down to the seating area where the ring was, which meant heading down them once for my pre-paid photo with BSS and The Elite, then again for walking stick autographs, then again to take my seat. The toilets were then another trip up and down these steps, as was the bar – a friend bought my drinks, so I didn’t have to make the crushed trip through the press of humanity and up the four or five steps again.
The chairs available during the meet & greet portion were also down these steps, so in the end, it was easier to snag a chair off a wrestler and sit behind a merch table so as to avoid being bumped around by the crowd, which was a constant low-grade agony. 7/10
Going the Extra Mile
Because of the price of attending the fan convention and the show (if I wanted my mark pic with everyone), I asked if it was possible to have a carer’s pass for my wife for the meet & greet stuff, seeing as she wasn’t going to want to talk to anyone, or get photos – she was just there to take pics for me, and keep me safe. This was immediately responded to with a yes, and so I bought one ticket, and we didn’t have to pay for my disinterested wife. That’s extra effort they didn’t have to make, and it made me weep with happiness. 10/10
Here, sadly, FC:P get a failing mark, because their traditional home venue is Fixxion – a converted warehouse with no accessibility, just stairs. All the stairs. And as much as the promotion made an effort for me, and I could possibly convince someone to carry me for the stairs? Nope. Sorry. 0/10 for this one.
Overall, I’d give Fight Club: Pro a 6.5/10 for the show I was at – it wasn’t perfect, but they made a strong effort, and I’d feel pretty good about going back to one of their shows… as long as it wasn’t at the damn Fixxion!