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Disability Punk Band Heavy Load Says, Stay Up Late!

  • Published: 2009-07-15 (Revised/Updated 2016-11-22) : Disabled World (Disabled World).
  • Synopsis: Heavy Load is a Anarcho Garage Punk band comprised of five musicians with two of the members having learning disabilities.

Main Document

Quote: "At these nights there is a lack of inhibitions. They tend to let their hair down and really know how to party; it's a hell of a lot of fun for all involved."

The United Kingdom has one Punk band that has gained recognition from the government and people with disabilities. The band has several members who have disabilities, and they are very tired of closing down the music before 10:00PM. The band is called, "Heavy Load," and they are a self-described, "Anarcho-Garage-Punk," band comprised of five musicians. Two of the members have learning disabilities, while another has Downs syndrome.

Heavy Load Drummer ImageHeavy Load is campaigning for the rights of persons with disabilities to stay up as late as they please in order to party. Can't say as I blame them one single bit. Paul Richards, the bands Bass player, is quoted as saying, "We started the campaign because we'd be playing a gig and something strange happens at 9pm when people would start to go home. We were also frustrated with asking to go on earlier in the evening so that our fans would still be there. It's not very punk to go on at 8.30pm."

The, 'Stay Up Late,' campaign found Heavy Load joining with Mencap, the United Kingdom's leading learning disabilities charity. They say that it has helped their efforts to reach a larger audience. The band and Mencap joined efforts to present a headlined concert in London for persons with learning disabilities and presenting them with the opportunity to be involved in running a club at night. The concert in London was held in the Proud Camden venue, with approximately four-hundred people in attendance. The party didn't stop until 1:00AM - something more suitable from the band's perspective. Everyone there, according to venue owner Alex Proud, was a person with a learning disability; from the bar staff to the cloakroom attendants.

If things had been the way they, 'usually,' would have gone - people would have ended up going home at 9:00PM, missing most of the evening because their support workers finish their shifts at 10:00PM - BUMMER. The, 'Stay Up Late,' campaign encourages the carers for persons with disabilities to stay out past that 10:00PM mark.You might think that some of the carers would object? Not so - the majority of them have been supportive. Paul Richards stated, "So far, we've only had one or two support workers say that they don't think they should be required to work unsociable hours."

Who is being sociable? The wide-spread support that the, 'Stay Up Late,' campaign has received speaks for itself.

Paul Richards went on to say, "At these nights there is a lack of inhibitions. They tend to let their hair down and really know how to party; it's a hell of a lot of fun for all involved. Proud is eager to put on events that include people with a learning disability and to make the public more aware of this often overlooked group. Young people with learning disabilities want to go out, but they are not catered for in the entertainment industry. It's the first event of its kind for people with a learning disability and there was a real buzz about how people with learning disability are an untapped source in the entertainment industry. "When we visited New York last year we were surprised to find that it's an issue for people with learning disabilities to get out much at all - so there is definitely a need there. We've also been asked to go to Russia, Serbia, other parts of the U.S., Scotland and Czech Republic to play and promote the campaign."

Heavy Load itself has been together for thirteen years; they met at the Southdown housing in England. Southdown is a nonprofit, assisted living community for persons with learning disabilities. Jimmy Nicholls sings for the group, Michael White plays the drums, Simon Barker is the lead vocalist, and Mick Williams plays guitar and sings. Heavy Load have a number of dedicated fans who are both disabled and non-disabled, and have produced a documentary named after the band. They desire to promote the, 'Stay Up Late,' campaign around the world.

Read about the Movie Heavy Load a documentary where Heavy Load shows how the band overcomes various trials, and proves that punk culture, social activism, and learning disabilities are not exclusive to one another.

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