Thu 12 Jun 2014
Some LATE clubbers making new friends at The Arches
Returning to The Arches this month on 19th June, LATE is a club night with a difference – devised by dating and friendship service dates-n-mates, the event is aimed at people with learning disabilities, providing a safe and welcoming atmosphere in which they can cut loose, let their hair down and make new friends.
“This is the sixth LATE event coming up in June – we started back in April of 2012,” Megan Spence, one of the event organisers says. “It started as part of a campaign called Stay-Up Late, which is based around the idea that people who need support should be able to access it when they want it as opposed to being confined to certain supported time slots. LATE is a fully inclusive club night – it is open to everyone, but is especially welcoming towards people with learning disabilities. It gives adults an opportunity to try clubbing, and to be able to go out and socialise a little later than they’re perhaps used to.”
Megan works for dates-n-mates, a Glasgow-based service offering “the opportunity to build friendships and relationships for adults with learning disabilities.” LATE is just one of their regular shindigs: “We run lots of different social events where our members can meet each other and open up their social circles,” she explains. Since its launch in 2012, LATE has become one of their most popular events.
“The LATE events have had a great reaction so far, as you can see from the photos,” says Spence. The night has become so popular, it has begun to attract clubbers from outside of the city, eager to be a part of a unique and exciting new clubbing venture. We have groups who come from a bit further afield than Glasgow – from Yorkshire to Aberdeen!” says Megan. “We have found that there are a lack of events like this, so that was one reason for starting LATE in conjunction with The Arches – which is a hugely popular club and fully accessible for wheelchair users too.” The enthusiastic response so far has more than proved the need for a regular event like this.
“A lot of our members have never had the opportunity to go out and try clubbing,” Spence explains. “The aim was to create an event which provided an experience much like other mainstream clubbing events, but with additional support, and an open, friendly door policy.” Headlining LATE on 19th June is Capital FM’s Garry Spence, as well as LATE’s resident DJ, JP. They will be playing a wide selection of “chart and dance music – the kind of stuff you would hear in any mainstream club,” says Megan.
The need for a space like LATE was underscored this week by the court victory for Arches favourite and acclaimed theatre-maker, activist and performance artist Robert Softley and his partner, who were refused entry to a city centre nightclub last year after management claimed they had no facilities for disabled customers. Although the couple explained they did not require any specialist facilities, they were still turned away. Their complaint against the venue was upheld, and the couple were awarded compensation, but the spectre of prejudice against disabled customers in entertainment venues still remains.
“When an incident like this happens it’s important for people to know that there are other clubs which are welcoming,” says Megan. “It’s a great thing for us to be in partnership with The Arches, one of the largest clubs in Glasgow, and to be able to provide opportunities for our members and the public to experience clubbing culture for themselves. Robert and his partner are more than welcome to LATE anytime!”
LATE with Garry Francis & JP | 19 June | 7.30pm – midnight | £6 for dates-n-mates members – £8 on the door