Recently, I headed to Lost Evenings II, a 4-day festival in Camden set up by Frank Turner (who I love for various reasons that I have discussed in a previous blog post). Sadly, I only went for the Saturday and not the full 4 days. But even that involved a trip to the Monarch, the night at Camden Roundhouse and then an afterparty at Dingwalls. So, here’s an accessibility review of all 3 venues (yeah that’s right this is a 3 in 1 deal, I do spoil you!)
First port of call for the evening was the pub (what did you expect honestly?) Now I usually split reviews like this into ticket buying, getting there and the experience and seating. However, in terms of tickets, there were none needed because well, it’s a pub so that was one hurdle avoided.
In terms of getting there, we (by we I mean my friend Dev) drove to Camden, parked up in our prebooked parking spot at the Roundhouse (more on that later) and strolled the rather longer than expected distance to the pub.
In terms of overall experience, this is where it gets interesting. We arrived and headed to the main entrance. I then requested that the doorman open the flat, wheelchair accessible entrance so I could get in. I knew this entrance was there as I’d been to the Monarch before (and we’d walked past it on the way to the main entrance). However, this request was repeatedly refused with the doorman even denying the existence of an accessible entrance. It was suggested that I be carried in in my chair, he then gestured at me to stand and walk in (I like a drink, but I’m not about to take my first unaided steps just to get one when there’s access available!). Obviously, I refused both of those suggestions as I was determined to get the access I asked for and know is there. I was then ignored and sat in the rain until a member of the Solo Armada (group of Frank Turner fans determined to make sure no one goes to a gig alone) kicked up a fuss (because no one was listening to me) and spoke to the doorman to helped me get in. Once we were FINALLY in, I found that the bar was downstairs and therefore I couldn’t get my own drink, which was kind of annoying but not a rare occurrence in many of the pubs I’ve been in. One of the things I can’t fault is the brilliant atmosphere. There’s really nothing better than belting out a Frank Turner song with strangers in the middle of pub with a drink in hand!
Then it was off to the Roundhouse for the main event of the evening! In terms of ticket buying, it was just your standard “call the accessible booking line” kind of deal so pretty much the same as most other venues.
In terms of getting there, as I’ve said above, Dev drove, and we parked up in our prebooked parking space. We were given directions on where to park when I booked the space, but it was still difficult to get in as the parking bays were difficult to find and you have to go behind a gate (which you have to request to be opened) so there’s a lot more involved in the parking than I expected.
In terms of experience and seating. It was quite difficult getting from the parking into the venue. Mostly due to poor quality ramp getting from the parking bays into the back of the venue. Once we were in we had quite a good view, we were sort of off to the side and up on a balcony. This also gave a good view of the standing and pit area, so I really felt like part of the crowd. Crowd control on the way out was pretty good, However, there was a long wait to be able to get to the lift for the lower level, but I felt this situation was well handled. Part of the issue was that half of the queue that we had to wait on was the merch queue (which we didn’t want to be in). I’m not sure if it’s the way the venue is or because it was a festival sort of situation, but the question still stands, why build a system where queues equals blocked disabled access?
And after the brilliant gig it was time to partayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy with an afterparty headlined by Shikari Sound System at Dingwalls. I bought tickets online like everyone else and there were actually no specific disabled tickets, while this might stress other people out, I was assured from the info on the site that the venue was accessible, and it was good to feel like I was getting the same experience as everyone else.
In terms of getting there, we drove from the Roundhouse to street parking near (ish) Dingwalls and walked since there was no parking at the venue (something which was stated on the website, so we were aware prior to arriving).
In terms of the experience, we arrived and were led around to a back entrance (side note: I hate Camden cobbles as does my spine) and then inside to a fairly busy section with not the best view. However, we found a better spot around the side of the same level which was quieter and gave me a better view, but it was near the toilets. These are the kind of standard sacrifices I have to make to get a decent view with a disability, but I was still able to dance and drink the rest of the evening away!
I hope this post gives an enlightening view on my experience of Lost Evenings II.