I’ve been trying to put this off a bit, but, frankly, I’ve still got to update Progress and ACW, and cover why I’m not at Chikara’s King of Trios this year, before we get on to Ally Pally and Anarchy Pro. I’ve got a lot to do, and I realised that putting this off until I was less upset by it wasn’t an option. And that I wasn’t getting less upset.
Fight Club: Pro were the first to go through my Wrestling With Stairs system, and they did pretty well, with an original score of 6.5/10, which became 8.5/10 when they moved to using a flat venue, Starworks, instead of the previous mountain of stairs, Fixxion. This mark is unfortunately going to fall now, simply due to what happened at Bush Hall on 26th August.
Originally, I wasn’t worried at all about how FC:P were going to deal with things. I napped through the announcement, I remember, waking up at 4am (pain never sleeps) and checking Twitter, seeing it, and going to the venue site. Lo and behold, Bush Hall have an accessibility page. It was like shafts of light from heaven, I was so happy, so I checked that out – flat venue, flat route to bar and toilets, flat entry – and it all looked perfect. I was super excited to go.
Discussion of Access
Twitter DMs, as always. Prompt, cheerful replies, and what I’d learnt to expect from FC:P in general. Courteous communication, presumably with Martin “Zak” Zaki, as it was previously. However, they did leave me waiting for six days for a response, getting back to me four days before the show, which panicked me a little. 7/10
Physical Access – Discussed
We fell into a few problems here. Walking is easier than standing still for me, and so I asked if I could enter a little early, like I had at DTTI. Instead, I was told that the queue would move quickly, so standing would be “minimal”. No. If I tell you I can’t stand, you don’t tell me I can do it for an amount of time.
I asked where would be safest to sit, as we had second row, and was told that the sides of the room would be best, which suited me fine. I asked about strobe, and got the above response, to which I say…. telling me there “might” be flashy lights or strobe? Not good enough. Tell me there will be, so I can decide not to risk my safety or your liability insurance by having seizures on the floor, or tell me there won’t, and don’t surprise me.
When I said about standing in the queue, I mentioned other promotions who reserve seats for me. I was told this would be done, but was not asked where the seats were best to be. I like to have a clear run at the toilets, and a space where I can seize without fucking up the show, so when we arrived, I sent another message shortly before the show, asking if we could come in five minutes early to make sure we had the seats we needed. Was told this was no problem, to knock on the side doors and ask for Zak. 5/10
Physical Access – Actual
We got in early, there was a seat for me in the lobby so we could wait for the lads to finish sorting themselves out, and then it was into the venue, where we chose, as suggested, seats as the side, for our second row seating. Later on, Jimmy Havoc did run at us, but pulled up at the last moment (I’m sure it wasn’t because my face clearly said how displeased I’d be if he made me move at speed) and didn’t throw someone at us. Seats were, otherwise, very safe seats, though after one dive crushed a chair, I think everyone was gently told “maybe don’t do that, these aren’t folding plastic seats, they’re expensive” and we didn’t see any more of that.
Where we run into issues is a little later. Trent Seven announced that merch was upstairs. Jokingly, because I’ve felt safe with him and like he appreciated my medical stuff since he made the effort to tell me about them switching to Starworks at Progress, I said “So, you going to carry me, then?”, expecting “fuck, sorry, we didn’t think.”
The response I got was “no, you can climb those, you don’t live in a bungalow“. You know in cartoons, where you physically see the strength flow out of someone, and they wilt? That was me, in that moment. Someone I trusted and respected had just told me, essentially, “I think you can do it, so I don’t care”. Sure, maybe I shouldn’t have gone for the joke. I know he was jet-lagged and tired and it had been a long week. Maybe he reached for something that was meant to be funny, and had no idea that it was going to be so hurtful. But it was. And it’s unacceptable to tell a disabled person what you think they can do.
I went up the stairs to look at merch, because, yeah, I can climb stairs, it’s just agonising and pops my joints out of place, takes a million years, and means I’ll be in pain for days afterwards. But I was already hurt, and if I was hurting, I at least wanted to see my faves. Climbing the stairs was…. embarrassing. There were people behind me, wondering why we were going at a snail’s pace, there were people trying to come down the stairs who were waiting for me to get up them until I waved them past, saying otherwise they’d be there forever. It was humiliating. I got up those stairs, and promptly had to hold back tears. I felt small, worthless, and like no one had wanted me there in the first place. I felt unwelcome. It’s a horrible feeling. Going down stairs was equally as horrible, and I slipped several times and nearly fell. I’m not sure what “yes, one of the co-owners told me to take the stairs even though I’m disabled, and I fell and smashed my face open” does to your liability insurance, but I’m pretty sure it’s not good.
Personal emotions and exhausted wrestler-owners aside, I’m informed that merch was upstairs for Night Three of DTTI in April, which was also at Bush Hall. At any point, Zak could have warned me that some merch would be upstairs, and we could have come up with an alternate option for me to see who I wanted and buy what I needed. There was no need for me to be surprised by that announcement; if I’d been forewarned, I would have been annoyed, but not as upset as I was.
We took our seats to wait for the show to start, and Trent announced “strobe and strobe-like affects”. Friends who were also there said they saw me lean my head back to look at the ceiling, and I said “fuck off” with feeling. At that point, I was ready to get up, burst into tears, flip off the camera as I hobbled past, snarling “fuck you” at it, and leave. I was done. I had to sit and convince myself that it would be worth staying, that we’d paid our money and I’d be no less miserable if we left. There were flashing lights at almost every entrance (my beloved Jack Sexsmith was the exception) and I spent the first half with my hand over my eyesfor every entrance, panicking. At the interval, we asked the sound guy if they could turn the light effects off, and they did, after Emmy let them know I was a seizure risk.
Because of the early let-in, they can have 1/10 for this.
Going The Extra Mile
After everything I’ve said above, you think they’re going to get good points here? However, Fight Club: Pro do offer a free carer’s ticket (although they probably won’t offer me that anymore, after this!) and so they get 1/10.
My carer’s going to be at Project Mayhem, so it’ll be interesting to see what she thinks of them on the new home turf I haven’t been on yet. Personally, I found DTTI better than Bush Hall, but what this really goes to show is that you can have a nice flat venue, where they put the accessibility information on their website, and still fuck it up. 5/10
Overall my experience on Saturday was humiliating, upsetting, and exhausting. I managed to wreck my left knee, to the point that I couldn’t put any weight on it afterwards, and this led to a collapse at Progress – fittingly, during Trent’s match. I’m still upset now, and when I saw him on Sunday, I wanted no eye contact, nothing. I didn’t want to go near him. It’s certainly put me off any other FC:P shows in the future. It was an incredible show, it truly was, but the way I was made to feel ruined it. It’s a shame.
I did DM them to let them know that I was disappointed with the situation with merch upstairs and with the strobe, on Monday, but have had no response. An apology would go a long way to helping this situation.
In the end, FC:P come out of this with a score of 4/10, the lowest score we’ve had so far. It’s disappointing, because I know they can do better.
EDIT TO ADD
Shortly after posting this, Fight Club: Pro did come back to me with an apology. I’m grateful to them for reaching out.