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All Access: How Accessibility Limits Dance Music's Inclusiveness

If we're excluding a segment of people from accessing nightclubs how can we say we're 100 percent for inclusion?

by THUMP Canada Staff
Oct 27 2015, 3:30pm

Dance music is founded on the concept of inclusiveness. From house music's beginnings in gay clubs and at the creative hands of African American producers, to today's welcoming audience of mixed races, ethnicities, religions, and genre preferences—we, as dance music fans, pride ourselves on this inclusiveness. And we're willing to defend it relentlessly. But when it comes to accessibility, there are question marks.

At some of Toronto's staple nightclubs, like CODA, The Hoxton, and Nest, there are physical barriers for fans who use wheelchairs and other mobility devices, which, according to government of Ontario, regards 1 in 7 Ontarians.

In 2005, the provincial government passed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Its goal is to make Ontario completely "barrier-free" for all persons with disabilities by 2025. But it's a massive, costly project. It will take time—but it's already being criticized as ineffective and off-schedule.

Just this week at Zedd's True Colors concert in Toronto, Canada, Ian McAdam, a dance music "superfan," and crucial part of THUMP's new documentary, All Access, was denied entry to the main floor despite previous assurances by event staff that he would be able to. Forced to wait in the concessions area for over two hours, he initiated a back-and-forth conversation with Zedd on Twitter, all in hopes of getting access to a show he paid for.

Though McAdam was able to rectify the situation (largely in part due to Zedd's management team), it is inexcusable for something like this to occur. And yet it does, all over the country, every weekend.

In All Access, THUMP Canada opens the conversation about music venue accessibility, starting in Toronto. Our host, comedian Andre H. Arruda, talks to McAdam, a city councilor, and an activist to shed light on a problem that's going relatively unnoticed and unchanged.

If we're excluding a segment of people from accessing the nightclubs that house dance music acts, how can we say we're 100 percent for inclusion?