Dundee is the city to watch just now, The Times are saying it is one of the best places to live in the UK 2018. In the last couple of years, we’ve seen many new developments and are awaiting the open in September of Scotland’s first V&A museum. One development that everyone has loved is Slessor Gardens, a communal park in the waterfront area that a few months throughout the year has hosted concerts for top names in music. Little Mix, Olly Murs, UB40 and Steps have all headlined great concerts, and it was Rita Ora’s turn last weekend. I have been unsure about going to concerts in Slessor Gardens due to not knowing any accessibility information, and to be honest I never remember about tickets until they’re sold out. But when I was asked by Volpa to attend a concert and do a review on Euan’s Guide, I was delighted to accept.
Having concerts in my hometown is great as it means I don’t have to travel far and I can go alone with my friends, knowing that my helpers aren’t far if I need them. Although to be honest even within the concert area, everywhere I went, I spotted someone I knew. This is why when I videoed going around using the GoPro, my YouTube video stops and starts a lot.
My friend Rachel didn’t finish work until 5 o’clock, so I decided to go down to the box office at Slessor Gardens before the gates opened to collect our tickets. I’ve never been into the city centre of Dundee when there has been a concert on however I have heard that it is mayhem because a lot of the roads surrounding Slessor Gardens are closed off. Therefore, I parked in Shopmobility at the back of the Overgate shopping centre (where Blue Badge holders can park for free when Shopmobility is closed) and walked down. This is roughly a 10-minute walk away, as long as you don’t get distracted by shops like I usually do. When I got down to the box office there was a long queue.
I joined the queue, however, after 10 minutes I noticed only a few people had actually went up to the box office window and the queue wasn’t moving anymore. Therefore, I asked my helper to go over to the box office window and check that we were in the right queue, whilst I kept our space. She got told it was, so we just waited. Overall, we waited for about 20 minutes and when the gates opened to all people to get into Slessor Gardens, everyone just entered and didn’t even go to the box office window. This was when I realised we were in fact in the wrong queue. So, I zoomed past the queue and finally got to the box office window. This is when I noticed my first accessible problem. The window was too high for wheelchair users.
Now my powerchair does rise up, meaning it can be easier. However, when you’re in a queue and people are waiting behind you, sometimes I don’t have time to put my chair up as it takes agesss. Also, not every wheelchair has this feature. Anyway, my helper ended up doing most of the talking for me because the lady in the box office couldn’t really hear me, I feel this takes away my independence though. I have a voice, I’d like to use it please. We finally got our wristbands for the concert and now I had to just wait for my friend to finish work.
Entering the concert was very easy. There was a designated entrance for people with disabilities to go through, it was titled ‘Disabled’ but it would probably sound better being titled ‘Accessible’ as it sounds more dignified. There were security checking bags however, he didn’t check my bag or Rachel’s which I’m not sure why, maybe we look like honest people. I also had my water bottle attached to my chair, which I thought I would have had to empty, but I didn’t. There could have been anything in it.
The only accessible problem I found within the concert area was very similar to the problem at the box office window. The bar where you got drinks was too high, I couldn’t even see what they sold as the signs were hidden behind the height of the bar. This meant that my friend had to repeat to me what they sold and buy a drink for me, again taking away my independence.
I did however love where the accessible seating area was, right at the front. I was further back which meant it was a little bit more of a side view, but I prefer this. I don’t like attention on me especially if it is caused by my disability, and I also like wandering around in between acts performing. So, if I was sitting near the front then I would have to constantly have to ask people to move. I could see great where we were though, except a few people dancing in front of me. I swear they sensed every time I started videoing.
The toilets were just what you’d expect at an outdoor concert. An accessible portacabin that I can only imagine would be quite difficult if someone in a wheelchair needed assistance from a carer. There are not that many Changing Place toilets in Dundee, they’re especially not open during the time of the concert.
We arrived at the concert just before 7pm which meant we didn’t see Rita Ora’s first support act Hannah Jane Lewis, we saw the last 2 songs from MNEK and all of SIGMA’s performance. Then you’d think I got to enjoy watching Rita Ora’s performance, well no. Unfortunately, the lovely Scottish weather we’ve been having decided to disappear and instead nice big grey clouds decided to grace us with their presence. The torrential rain started, and I got a bit wet. We went to go over to the merchandise stall to buy a waterproof poncho, but they ran out of them, so went to get shelter under the security tent where others had gathered already. Rachel was infront of me, and as I was trying to edge undercover the water fell off of the side of the tent and soaked me. Unfortunately, we didn’t get footage of that on camera but Rachel assures me that we would have won £250 on You’ve Been Framed. I had to laugh at the whole situation, there was nothing else I could have done.
Overall the concert at Slessor Gardens was great and I would definitely recommend going to see one. Just be prepared for all weathers.
Thank you to Volpa for inviting me to the concert and organising the tickets.