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Disability at Glastonbury 2010

Emma Emma | 14:49 UK time, Tuesday, 22 June 2010

The Glastonbury Festival always sparks much excitement here at Ouch towers, as we immediately scour the extensive line-up for the merest hint of disability amongst the acts and check out access provision for disabled fans. It's what we do.

In years gone by, we struggled to find any disabled bands on the list and were often concerned at how a disabled festival goer would manage the huge campus. However, at the past couple of festivals, things have vastly improved on both counts. With the blind pop legend Stevie Wonder headlining the famous Pyramid Stage on Sunday evening, Glasto 2010 really surpasses itself when it comes to disability representation.

But Stevie is by no means the only disabled performer strutting his stuff at the festival this year. Also appearing Sunday, Congolese polio survivers Staff Benda Bilili will treat the West Holts stage to their unique brand of African pop. I met the band last year on a previous visit to our country: Read their incredible story of a life on the streets of Kinshasa and rise to international stardom in my article: Staff Benda Bilili: African disability beats hit the UK.

On Saturday 25th of June, on the Queen's Head stage, the Mystery Jets, whose lead singer, Blaine Harrison, has spina bifida. They'll be doing their Indi rock thing. Blaine spoke to me a while ago about the work he is doing with campaigners Attitude is Everything to improve access to live music for disabled people. Click to read our 13 Questions interview with him. Also, keep an eye on the main site for Blaine's two online video interviews, part of Dis Connected, a brand new video series coming to Ouch! from next week.

Attitude is Everything is the organisation famous for promoting disability related music acts, managing the access facilities at a range of UK festivals and campaigning for better access for performers so they can strut their stuff. This year they're curating the disabled artists event Club Attitude; it's at The Hub which is situated in the Shangri La zone on Saturday afternoon from 1.00pm. Acts will include La Rebla Fam, who were guests on the June 2010 Ouch! Talk Show, Bug Prentice who will feature on our next show and more (you can hear some of their music and an audio interview with their lead singer if you click that link).

Here's the full line-up at Glastonbury's Club Attitude

If you are disabled and planning to be at Glasto, this is an afternoon not to be missed.

If you spot another act with disability links in the line-up, please leave a comment below. And if you are heading to Glastonbury 2010, have a blast!


  • Comment number 1.

    Hi I am at Glastonbury at the moment I have CP, Aspergers and dyslexia, the organisers have made enormus efforts to acomadate people with disabilities there is a special camping area, viewing platforms, transport, code lock protected toilets and a welfare tent.
    However the level of inclusion depends on the quality of the feed back the organisers get from people with any disability, my personal view is we need continue to inform organisers and establishments of what our needs are and keep telling them. Aside from, faceless big buisnes, most people what to get it right, but are more afraid to get it wrong! People without disability may not have disability but they are still people and falabal. Glastonbury is a celebration of the human spirit, if you have been, you know the vibe is AWESOME. This is not just a festival still a collection of people wanting and beliving in a truley inclusive future for race, disability, sexual orientation, religeous (I wish my phone had a spell check) belife, ethnic minority, age related discrimination and humanity above capitalism!

  • Comment number 2.

     Hi day two. It's ear plugs time at the festival its nearly full, 185,000 people from the uk and around the world, amazing, but wow! what a din for those over sensitive asperger ears.
    For those of us with asperger syndrome who like people and want to be part of a society, this is a perfect place. because the small talk and the social norms are much less neaded on average. You can quickly esablish a deep and meaningfull conversation with a complete stranger in minutes over coffee and cake or alcohol and chips. 
    But it is quite easy to become over stimulated very quickly by the lights, sounds and SMELLS!
    Music starts tomorrow and the wrist band issued to people with disabilities enables us to cut through sections of the festival not open to the general public, one being the space between the pyramid and the other stage which knocks off about .75 km of the journey and staight through the production area which is full of all the celebs ( if your in to that sort of thing).
    Every time we have  left the tent I find the first two minutes of our journey more unstable than the day before, only to find my fourteen year old daughter has been playing with my crutches and adjusted them two notches lower than is comfortable for me ( she might even be doing it on purpose, the little devil)
    As the festival intensifies I have to keep a careful eye on my night time alcohol consumption (i dont drink in the day) as I have a tendency to self medicate when I start to get stressed and of course with AS I am not often aware of when that is.
    No melt down today, great! I might tell about Tuesdays meltdown if I feel I can word it apropriately, tried last night but it sounded a bit hardcore


  • Comment number 3.

    Tuesdays meltdown 
    Bit of strang one this but a good example of asperger in action.

    I went up to the Eco freindly glasonbury showers on Tuesday for a final scrub before the masses arived.
    Just a bit of context, I am male, 43 and two stone over weight which, disability apart, leaves me very self conscious about my body.

    There was a comunal changing area (unisex), but just outside each of the eight shower cubicals there were some hooks, so of course I undressed inside the shower cubical and placed my things on the hooks.

    After I had finished, I dressed upto my shoes and socks then went to the comunal changing area to dry my feet and put on my shoes and socks. As I sat down an extreemily atractive young woman came out of another cubical without a stitch on. 

    The bench I sat on formed a 90 degree corner and as I leaned over to tie my shoe laces, on one side of that corner, she adopted the adjacent side and proceeded to dry her female bits within a 30 cm of my face.
    I think most Nurologicaly typical men would have thought it was Christmas, but I imploaded, why?

    Well, after a long chat with my partner, I worked it out, most of the time when an asperger meltdown occours it's because of conflict, ie a computer crashes when it is told to do one thing while if was already doing somthing else it was told to do.

    Please belive me this is my truth, asperger strugles with context, my first thought had been that I had better respond to what she was asking of me, because she was obviously asking me to respond to her physical advance and I am a hetrosexual male, I will leave the rest to your imagination. 

    But on the other hand this was a public place and there were 6 other people in the room so physical intimacy was not apropriate, (aside from the fact i have lived with my partner for 17 years) conflict and MELTDOWN!!!!!

    In retrospect I now understand that she was just being a bit liberal, that's not how it felt at the time, in a moment of mild psycoasis we could have been in a 70's porn film, it realy can mess with your head that much, and the context goes out of the window. I actualy felt guilty for rejecting her (like I am gods gift or something)

    When you have asperger you learn that most of the time your job is to respond, not to be proactive, it's almost servile.

    But to be able to respond apropriately you need to have good contextual awareness and we do not, hense the frustration.


  • Comment number 4.

    Had my first disapointment today.
    My partner and daughter wanted to see Alice in Wonderland, in the cinema tent as did I. 
    But for those of you who have not been to Glastonbury it is quite sureal, with it's big top tents pokeing out from in between the trees, laser lit skielines and smoke piroetting up to the midnight sky! a true sight to behold. 
    Add to that the fairies on stilts, giant bees, singing acts, mime acts and general street performance.
    So I thought, not good idea to come out of a surealist film and not being able to distingishs it from reality, and with my autistic brain that would be a trip that might take me a few days to come out of. 

    It's been seven years since my diagnosis and I think this is the first year I realy feel I can manage this condition most of the time, with the suport package i recieve. Although at first, being asigned a social worker at the age of 34 did nothing for my pride it made me feel more inadaquate than ever.
    Thankfully the life long depresion I'd had up until my diagnosis left me six years ago and medication free since the same time.
    On the Tuesday after we return from Glastonbury I am delivering to a conference on asperger syndrome in Blandford Dorset. I wil try to give examples of some practical stratergies that have helped me over the years. I will also be running a work shop in the afternoon on relationship and sexuality, with a manager from NHS Dorset, might use my shower experience from a privious post. 

    Plenty of Circus for us today but alas no viewing platform in the Circus tent, although they had a hearing loop and signer, the more we tell the the more we will get.

    The girls have gone off to see Dizzee Rascal, I'm back at the tent writting this and haveing some time out before the onslaught that is GORILLAZ, might catch a sneaky cider on my way down. 
    If I can make it till 1:30am a bit of Charles Hazelwood wouldn't go a miss, this fine conducter, arranger and presenter will have his allstars with him, included one of the members of Portishead none the less, hears to latenight blurry vison!!


  • Comment number 5.

    Heart n Soul have played Glastonbury on several occasions since 1999. Most of the performers have learning disabilities although there are other disabilities 'represented' in Heart n Soul, so to imply only in the last couple of years have there been performers with disabilities is wrong.

  • Comment number 6.

    Sitting down soaking up the sun at leftfield, chomping my way though a bag of Chou Chou nuts, gorgeously roasted with caramel and coconut, you never seem to see them else where. The girls are clothes shopping leaving me able to rest my swollen palms from crutch handle fatigue.

    For those of you who don't know what leftfield is, its the political section afectionatley known as Billy's tent, (Billy Brag) speakers, polititions and politicaly motivated bands wax lyrical about important issues both national and international.
    This is closing early this year due to the England v Germeny match ( I understand there is no one to staff it).

    The tent has a hearing loop and signers, I am greatfull, as we, with disabilities often are for these adjustments. 
    So In theory at least, we can take part in political debate, I would like to see those adjustments and more, made across the whole of local, county and national government. I dont see any evidence of that hapening from the present administration. All of us in recept of DLA and incapacity benifit are un clear as to whether our benifit is under threat.
    The phrase David Cameron used enabling an unjustified attack on us was, " everyone will be affected by the savings, the rich and the benifit scrounger alike " Please, if someone is in recipt of benifits ileagaly they are comiting a crimnal act, so the correct term is criminal! not benifit scrounger.
    Useing such emotive lanuage only places us in a generic and ambiguos position thus undermines the credibility of legitimate benifit claiments. Then simple and emotive justifications can be made for swathing cuts, without qualification!!!

    We made it to Charles Hazlewood last night but after some trauma, no food for me, we could not find gluten, soya and dairy free food that was remotly appetising, why are we so reliant on wheat? and why is it asumed that soya is an alternitive for any food, it's not and a lot of people are intollerant to it. Anyway back to Charles, we arived just after 1:30 and left at 1:55 with no sign of the "tekkies" finishing their spagetti junction, shame but somtimes plans just don't pan out.

    Caught the last four songs from Al Stewart, and from a great viewing platform WOW! he came up with the goods and in one of the songs three of the the audience augmented his arrangment with some impromtu Trombone, trumpet and tanborine harmonies and he asked for a repeat, only at Glastonbury!

    Last of all, from the well designed viewing platform of the acoustic tent, while girls were at the pet shop boys and Muse, I sat in the trnquility and security of Christy Mooore's thought  provoking performance.


  • Comment number 7.

    Well, the final day of activities although we don't leave untill tomorrow.

    We are sat on stools ( alas no viewing platform ) in the Avalon text listening to Teddy Thompson, my heart is pounding and i'm on the verge of a panic attack, think i have over done it on the Asperger side. We tried to get to see the Beat yesterday at the Croissant Neuf Cafe. The tracks were packed, we met a crowd of a couple of thousand people going the other way and at 12:45am not many were soaber. 

    one thing I have realised, in 15 or so previous years I have been coming here, save the oad one or two, is that the previous years have been a lot more subdued due to the weather. 
    This year in has been relentless, reminisent of the year the fence got pushed down, 
    The thing with Asperger Syndrome is that your state of mind can change very quickly and without warning, most of us can't feel it happening until it's too late.

    Anyway the tent was full when we got there and the sound poor, so we decided to leave. On exiting the field a security guard gave me an instruction that I could not understand and he then thought I was taking the pxxx! 
    my partner had to step in to calm things down then things deteriated from there. What a diference an evening can make.

    Oops xxxx need to leave this tent NOW!

    Sorry about that, the panic attack arived, and went. We decided to stay in the Avalon tent after Teddy to watch KEANE, then along cane another 1000 people with the same idea. Not easy getting out of a packed marque on crutches!

    I think the best of the rest would be best left to tomorrow




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