Under One Roof: Disabled Learning Rave organisers discuss the start of a new era with MM

The Disabled Learning Rave starts a new era for Under One Roof as the increasingly popular event returns to Manchester this Thursday.

Set up by Alice Woods, of club promoters Meet Free, in association with Manchester People First, their events provides people with learning disabilities the opportunity to experience club nights.

Since its conception last year, the event has seen a steady increase in popularity, even featuring in a BBC Stories exclusive.

Thursday’s event marks the beginning of a new era for Under One Roof, having recently been forced into relocating to new venue: Charles Street’s YES.  

MM spoke to Alice ahead of the upcoming event.

Why did you set up Under One Roof? 

“After throwing house and techno parties in Manchester for a few years and feeling very lucky to have been successful at it, we felt like we had a good formula and wanted to use our knowledge and talents to do something worthwhile.

“We wanted to give back to the city essentially. We saw that someone else had created a similar event in the Midlands and it just seemed like such a brilliant idea we wanted to start it in Manchester too.

“One of our guiding and founding principles is to make a safe and welcoming event and dancefloor for everyone, so by opening it up further to a group of people who normally feel like they can’t attend events it just made sense.” 

Who is it aimed at? 

“Under One Roof is an 18+ event, and it is aimed at adults with learning and physical disabilities who want to come and party at a rave!

“A lot of the people we spoke to either cannot attend club nights due to lack of physical access, or because they don’t feel comfortable or safe. We also welcome along family members, carers and friends – so everyone can attend together.” 

What are Under One Roof nights like?

“They are just like any other club night, except we lower the capacity and have less intense lighting and music.

“There are such a wide range of people who come that we want to make it as open as possible for everyone. At this event, we have local DJs High Hoops and Kerry McColgan, who play all over the city including at the Warehouse Project. MCR Live will be broadcasting the event too.”

What advice would you give to people thinking about coming? 

“Just come and give it a go! Even if you haven’t been before or feel apprehensive about what to expect, come down and see what it’s about.”

Did you ever envision it would be this successful!? How did it feel having a BBC feature? 

“We didn’t really think that far ahead to be honest, we did the first event as a trial run so were really pleased when people actually came!

“The BBC Feature was brilliant, because it actually brought so many issues to the forefront that normally most of us don’t think about.

“A lot of people commented on it saying we were ostracising people by creating a separate event, but what they don’t realise is just how difficult it is to go out in the city for many of the people who come to our events. Especially due to wheelchair access – very few venues in Manchester actually cater for this.” 

Speaking of venues, why did you choose to relocate to YES? 

“Unfortunately our old venue, Texture, shut down suddenly. It took a long time to find a venue that was right – somewhere that was not only accessible via wheelchair, but was designed for this in mind, not just an add-on.

“We didn’t want to compromise on this, and YES has turned out to be perfect. Every floor is accessible with great toilet facilities and is just a great venue to boot!” 

What is your vision for the future of Under One Roof? 

“We would like more and more people to hear about it and come down, as the crowd we do get seem to have such a good time.

“Eventually we’d love to see some of the Under One Roof punters at a Meat Free night too – hopefully Under One Roof can help to build confidence more than anything.

“We’d also love for accessibility to be high on the priority list for venue owners and promoters, so that Under One Roof isn’t the only night that people with learning and physical disabilities feel they can attend.”

Tickets to Under One Roof’s ‘Disabled Learning Rave’ cost £3.50 and can be purchased via the link below.

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