“I have a question for you, young lady” the stage is dark, and my hand is being held by the creator of music I’ve been listening to for over 10 years. “Do you feel as free tonight as you told me you did last night?”
My answer “Absolutely” is nothing short of the truth.
I had one of those weekends you don’t forget. VNV Nation is a band I’ve been listening to since the early 2000s. On my seventeenth birthday the band came to my city. But Seattle had a law that all ages shows couldn’t happen unless there were 300 chairs bolted to the floor. So my friends who were old enough to go got my birthday card signed by Ronan and Marc.
So this band has a special place in my heart. But it isn’t just because they’ve always been nice to me, either in person or by proxy.
Going to VNV Nation shows is a way to for me to be free. While most of the time, overstimulation is something I avoid, for some reason their shows and their music creates a sensory overload that isn’t just acceptable, but it lets me let go. There’s no need to be hypervigilant because I can’t bother with seeing, there are so many bright lights in the darkness that I don’t have to worry about it. The music is so loud that I can hear everything through my body (and my ears) and I don’t need to turn up my hearing aid. When you have a disability there’s so few opportunities to completely shut off all your attentions to your body. Rarely is it that you get to say “I’m not worried about not seeing anyone, I’m not worried about not hearing someone, I am not worried about taking painkillers.” I can just be.
It might be because I’ve never felt anything but safe at their shows. Closing my eyes as the bass rattles my spine, as the music envelops me, it almost feels like a sacred time in which I don’t have to think. I don’t have to think about being blind and deaf. I don’t feel disabled, because in those moments, I’m just *there*.
In 2009 I went to the show in NYC. Some moshers kept bouncing into me and damn near broke my face, and Ronan stopped joking around during the show and glared at them and said “She’s blind, back off. Give her some space.” I was at the front of the stage, and I got to *be there* because there was access. There was acceptance. I was welcome.
I wish VNV shows were held in more accessible venues, because getting up and down stairs is never really fun for me, but just knowing that I am welcome, just knowing that I am safe, just knowing that in this place where the music can hold me, where the band gives a shit that everyone has a good time, and where I can let go, just that means the world. The fact that multiple times in the evening, Ronan came and sang to me, that too meant something. Because it was obvious that my experience was valued, and let me tell you, I had the best time.
I am so grateful that I got to go to both shows this past weekend. I haven’t had a chance to let go like that in a long time, and I can’t wait for the next show. I just hope it’s sooner than in 5 years. A million thank yous.
Grant me wings that I might fly, my restless soul is longing. – VNV Nation, Beloved.