What’s it like to go clubbing when you can’t see?

This month we’ll be sharing your top tips and experiences of living with sight loss. In this blog entry, Linn describes what it’s like to go clubbing, and why loud music can cause distress and disorientation when her ability to hear clearly is compromised.

Clubbing is one of those things. I feel I should like it, but I don’t really. The reasons for this is that the music tends to be so loud that I can’t hear myself think. I become deaf as well as blind and I am depending on my friends a lot more than I like. But there have been times when clubbing is too tempting even if I don’t really have somebody to go with.

One such time was on my birthday five years ago. There was going to be a party in the memory of rapper Notoious B.I.G. It wasn’t a club as such, but it was a clubbing event. One of my BBC colleagues Jay, had invited me along. And since her music taste is similar to mine and since she was running the event, I decided to give it a shot. It was my birthday after all and my friend Rachel said she was going to show up. I’d be ok.

The event started off fine. I met Jay who introduced me to some of her friends and we danced. The music was just my kind of party music. Hip-hop, reggae and dancehall.. And I didn’t care that it was too loud. I was proud of myself for having gone to the event, because I had met new people and I was having a fab time.

Rachel and her sister showed up a little later, and my night got even better. Until they had to find a bathroom. I didn’t have to go, so decided to stay and dance right where I was. Surely Rachel would find me when she came back.

I was still feeling relaxed and I moved along to the music without a care in the world for five minutes. Ten minutes. Fifteen minutes. Half an hour. By that time, I was really beginning to miss Rachel and her sister. The queue for the bathroom couldn’t take this long? The club was hot and I desperately needed to get something to drink. I didn’t have my cane on me. Cane in clubs? It was a complete no no for me back then. And the music was loud. I had no idea where in the room I was and where to go. The panick was slowly rising in me, and I felt myself starting to hyperventilate. The best way of describing how I felt, is to imagine that you are in a tight vacume where all there is, is you and the sound and you feel that no matter in which direction you move, you’re stuck because the sound creates walls around you.

I started moving very stiffly in a random direction. “You alright there?” shouted a Jamaican female voice in my ear. “I am fine!” I shouted back even though I felt far from it. “You nuh look it!” she shouted back. I was getting annoyed and I felt aggressive because I had absolutely no control of the situation. “The bar!” I shouted and the girl took me there.

Jay was near the bar. She saw me and came towards me. I told her I’d lost Rachel and her sister and I stuck with Jay for the rest of the night, promising myself I’d never go to a clubbing event like this alone again.

When I left the club a little later, I had lots of missed calls and worried texts from Rachel who hadn’t been able to find me. But of course, there was no way I could have texted or called her in the club, because I wouldn’t have been able to hear my phone even with airplugs in. I texted her to let her know I was ok, with Jay and on my way home.

I have gone clubbing since that slightly traumatic time. But I am way more cautious today than what I used to be. I always make sure I stay with somebody and I have my cane at hand so that should I need to, I will use it. I’m not worrying about it being not cool, because it first of all act as my eyes when I can’t use my ears and secondly, I am confident that the way I carry myself is cool enough that the cane isn’t going to destroy my image. Also, I’ve come to realize that people who see me clubbing tend to respect me rather than pity me if they see me with a cane. I am just a regular girl out having fun. I just happen to be blind.

I have even gone clubbing with just visually impaired and blind friends. And what usually happens when we are a group of VI people, is that we alert somebody who works in the club that we may need some extra help getting drinks etc. And they are more than willing to help.

If I can choose though, I prefer those bars with dancefloors. I can hear myself think there.

Source: Action for Blind People 

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