Concert Hacks for people living with epilepsy (and for event organizers to consider)

10:47:00 PM

I went for my first ever concert in 2011, Juliani's Pulpit Kwa Street Album Launch and stood strategically behind the speakers to avoid the lights but still see the main act (had to move to the light for this pic then back to my spot)
Hey hey my people,

I have finally recovered from dancing all night long on New Year's Eve. 

My church (ok the one i am currently attending) had one of those all night events churches have to cross over from one year to another, i liked this one because it was a full blown concert and from 10p till around 5a i think i was on my feet 90% of the time, with my eyes closed because they had some strobe lights action going on (one of the many reasons i rarely go for concerts because most event organizers never consider the fact that the flashing lights affect some of us with epilepsy) but despite it all, i had an aaaaaamazing time...to many more concerts in 2017 and beyond

(PS: Not everyone living with epilepsy is affected by flashing lights, if you or someone you know has epilepsy, make sure you learn your triggers and try as much as possible to avoid them so as to reduce the number of seizures you get)

(PSS: I went for my first ever concert in 2011, which was Juliani's Pulpit Kwa Street Album launch...that was historical and worth mentioning because i was with a crowd ok i was at the edge and i survived to the end)

Thanks to the church event, I was inspired to do a concert hack post for people living with epilepsy;
I loooooooved this lady from the church concert...when i become a worship leader in my next lifetime, we will definitely kick it

1. Get a strategic place
I cannot stand in the sun for a long (or a short) time because i will just fall over, so i need loads and loads of shade during day events. For night or tented events, the only strategic place has been where i can watch the action from the screen because i cannot look at the stage thanks to the strobe lights...sitting at the edge of the row or near an exit always works for me too (even in everyday meetings/church services/classrooms - i always go for the edge for easy exit)

2. Remember your triggers and Listen to your body
Too much excitement triggers me so do crowded spaces...the latter actually overwhelm especially if i have to be in them. If i am speaking and i am up on stage, i am always consumed by the message i have to deliver and standing in the gap for that one person in the crowd i hope my words will touch to get overwhelmed by the size of the audience. but when it is the reverse, it is too much....that is why i love sitting at the front, the back freaks me out because i see all these heads before me and it scares me. If at any one time while in the crowd during a concert i feel it is too much, i walk to a space where i can get some air and be able to centre myself...truth be told i prefer intimate events, small space (small airy spaces) with a handful of people but heeeey, we don't always get what we want huh?

3. Tell someone the concert
I know we are all about our independence and showing the world we got this...but it is important to let someone at the concert know that you have epilepsy and in case of a seizure what they need to do and who to contact. As much as we think we know all our triggers, we also know that this epilepsy business is a tricky one and it just keeps picking triggers all over the place...anything can trigger you.

4. Do constant check ins with someone at home
...also let the people at home or friends who are emergency contacts know you will be out for a concert...yes i know i am a big girl but i have to constantly check in and say i am loving the show and my energy is amazing. You dont need to use those exact words, i love how social media makes this really seamless for us without even our noticing that our status updates are actually check ins.



5. Maintain the routine - Eat well, hydrate...rest
The whole composition of a concert is exhausting not just to organizers and the artists but also guests. Make sure you get enough rest before (to last till the main act) and after the event, eat well, hydrate on water (y'all know alcohol is a trigger too and it makes things worse if you need to be taking your meds before bed)...do not miss out on your meds even if you are tired and need to get to bed to start scheming your marriage to the main act or one of the amazing curtain raising bands (i know i am not the only one who has had such dreams)...i have nt done my morning walk on 1st and 2nd because my body needed to recover but i feel good enough to wake up and do it tomorrow morning...wont know though until i wake up, its not pressure though.

Bonus Hack:
Close your eyes and look down
This may sound silly, ok i agree it is silly, but it is how i made it through this last concert and i learnt that i absorb music way better with my eyes closed. I missed on some of the dance moves and had to keep peeping with half eyes shut to see if i am on the same page and walking out...but hey, to each their rhythm right?

Bonus Hack for event organizers; 
- Make sure there are enough exit points and proper ventilation
- Just the way y'all have a VIP area, it would be good to have a part of the set up where people living with epilepsy can easily enjoy the show without all the strobe lights and photographer flashes (it aint fun having to close your eyes and look down 90% of the time or watch the show from a screen yet you are live at the event)
- Turn down the strobing of the lights -  i noticed if they changed colors at a snail pace and didnt do the whole 360 turns all over the place, i can hack. in the past i have missed out on dancing with my pals when our jam came up because of the lights or we always got into an arguement with management on it...lets see if i hack it in 2016...what concerts are y'all going to this year?

I made it to the end of the concert by Juliani in 2011 and saved the ticket as a reminder of what an amazing spirit i am

Sending love and light,
Sitawa 

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