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Swedish women warned off wheelchair clubbing

TT/Rebecca Martin · 3 May 2011, 11:43

Published: 03 May 2011 11:43 GMT+02:00

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Dimmed lights make wheelchairs a hazard to fellow nightclub revellers, the two wheelchair bound girls were told by Swedish Q&A hotline 118 100.

"At first we laughed, it was so ridiculous we thought it was a joke, but then we felt insulted. Neither one of us have been in a wheelchair for that long and after the depression that follows it is not especially nice to be told that you can't go out and enjoy yourself," Katarina Morgner told The Local.

Morgner and her friend Nina Åberg were planning a night on the tiles in Stockholm. But as they are both wheelchair bound and would have a problem getting up and down stairs they decided to text 118 100 to find out which nightclubs in Stockholm would be best to visit.

“We don’t think a nightclub is an appropriate environment for wheelchairs,” was the answer they received.

118 100 is a search engine, where customers on the internet and via telephone and text messages will be provided with "an answer to anything".

“Our pleasant and capable information agents will give you that little extra something with a smile on their lips," the website reads.

The reasoning behind the advice was in this case that lights are usually dimmed at a nightclub and that the wheelchairs could be a danger to the other guests.

“We reacted strongly to the fact that they thought we’d be a menace to society,“ Nina Åberg told newspaper Metro.

In the "super answering school" available on the company website they differentiate between factual questions, philosophical questions, opinion questions, entertainment questions, guessing questions, questions of a sexual character and directory enquiries.

The 118 100 staff are advised never to answer in an "unpleasant, derogatory or offensive" manner.

CEO Mikael Benckert told Metro that the person answering the question tried to think about the answer but in the end just got it wrong.

“Maybe they should have tried giving suggestions of other premises where they could have socialised,” he told Metro.

He doesn’t think that the answer the two girls received was very well phrased.

“The best thing would have been just to answer their question,” he said when prompted by Metro.

Story continues below…

Åberg and Morgner are planning to take the matter to the Equality Ombudsman (Diskrimineringsombudsmannen).

"What we want is that they look over who gets to work there. And that when on duty they really think about what they answer people, " Morgner told The Local.

Other answers from 118 100 that have caused offence in the past included when a 13-year-old asked what he should be when he grew up and was told to take a shotgun into the jungle and end it all.

Another was when a 13-year old girl inquired after record companies and was told that she should give up the idea as she had a voice like a "creaking old tractor", according to Metro.

TT/Rebecca Martin (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

14:05 May 3, 2011 by BrittInSweden
To be fair, the operator was correct.

Wheel chairs in crowded places don't mix well. Especially when alcohol is available. I doubt the operator was being mean, just being factual about it.
15:15 May 3, 2011 by Tanskalainen
Wheelchair girls are Hot! Learn to deal with them, get used to it. Simple acomodations can be made by the clubs. These clubs just want the "cool" and the handicapped in the opinion of these shallow people are not "cool".
15:17 May 3, 2011 by Thompsuleme
@ BrittinSwindon ;)

Be that as it may, the girls only wanted to know which nightclub could offer them less hassles. The operators responce meant that the ladies ´(in their current state) should never visist a nightclub. I Beleive there are places that would suit them just fine.
15:19 May 3, 2011 by Stickeroo
I agree with BrittinSweden. Although it's kinda sad that it is this way, I for one in my many years of going clubbing can't remember a single time when I have seen someone in a wheelchair in the club. And I've been to clubs the world over. How would they even get around. Berns, on a weekend, is so full of people you have to knock people on their a$$ to get to the bar. Good luck moving 3 meters in a chair. It just doesn't work. I don't think the operator was wrong in what he said at all. Just like a Swedish company to crap on the heads of their employees to save from public shame. I have more respect for one that would stand by their employee's statement (there is a line of course, but it hasn't been crossed on this occasion).
15:29 May 3, 2011 by HYBRED
Wheelchair bound have problems with crowds. And to be fair, crowds sometimes have problems with some wheelchair bound. And when both have been drinking I can see trouble coming quickly.
16:07 May 3, 2011 by Harlan
In the USA the ADA laws would make both the person answering the inquiry and the night club very unhappy (and poorer).
16:45 May 3, 2011 by LeoKinmann
If I'm in a wheelchair I'd avoid "enjoying" myself in a night club. Not talking about causing trouble to others who wanna have fun, but more for my own safety. Drunk people and wheelchair don't go together. And who knows what kind of insults do they throw at you, once the moral and ethical codes are dimmed by intoxication? A cozy bar is much better.
16:47 May 3, 2011 by Swedesmith
There are some situations that a wheelchair would not be appropriate. Mountain climbing comes to mind. But a nightclub should be able to make the necessary accomadations.
16:59 May 3, 2011 by swedejane
"Our pleasant and capable information agents will give you that little extra something with a smile on their lips," the website reads. "

Well hotdog...please tell me more!

@harlan is correct. It's things like this that make me do a double-take, especially in a society that brags so much about how egalitarian it is. There are so many instances of this very old world, discriminatory thinking going on. I have been to many a club (dance and live music) where there was someone in a wheelchair...it's not really that big of a deal to let them pass.
17:15 May 3, 2011 by Douglas Garner
I also agree that Harlan is correct... BUT... Professionally, I have built hundreds of restaurants and clubs throughout the USA, primarily for the big chains. We design for ADA, but access has little to do with real function once folks start drinking and having fun.

I can get you to a table, and even provide special tables that will accomodate wheel chairs... although they are likely to be occupied when you arrive. I can get you to the dance floor (providing patrons have not moved chairs into the walk isles). But I don't have a clue as to how to stop other dancers from stumbling over the chair on the dancefloor. Dancing is by nature a fluid activity and the dancers on a busy floor must move in harmony. If you cannot do that for whatever reason, you won't be welcome by the other dancers.
08:47 May 4, 2011 by StockholmSam
I smell a business opportunity.
09:15 May 4, 2011 by J Jack
I can sympathize, I got really annoyed at Easter when the local nightclub wouldn't let me in with my roller skates on, still at least I had the disticnt difference of being able to hang them in the garderob at a nominal fee. Obviously the problem is not the handicap but the wheelchairs, so if staff were trained to guide these lovely ladies and serve them their consumables in an accessible and socially satisfying position in the club, then no worries.
09:37 May 4, 2011 by swedejane
Hmm...maybe wheelchairs aren't "swedish" enough for normal society...you know, like immigrants.
16:13 May 4, 2011 by Marc the Texan
I've been in nightclubs with people in wheel chairs lots of times. Some places they are fine and others not so much. Why is the massive bureaucracy always laying out these blanket rules that may or may not fit the venue? As mentioned above, it's against the law to deny wheelchair access in most places in the US.
01:37 May 7, 2011 by MichiganLady
You've never seen wheelchairs in clubs and think that's because it isn't safe? How about because so many ignoramuses treat people in wheelchairs in clubs rudely and MAKE them unwelcome?

There's no reason clubs can't accommodate wheelchairs. Just give people a chance to get over it and get used to it, then it won't be an issue after awhile. That's been the natural progression all people seeking equality have requested--just give it a chance, instead of coming up with lame excuses for excluding people you aren't (yet) comfortable with.
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