Festivals and Gigs, Norfolk

Back In The Crowd – Barbu NNFestival

I told you I’d be back. Didn’t expect it to be this soon did you?!

I was watching Britain’s Got Talent not too many Saturdays ago (because what else would I do with my spring Saturday evenings?!) when I had this sudden urge to be part of an audience again.

It had been a good two and a half years since I was part of an audience watching live entertainment. There once was a time when it was what my life mostly consisted of. That and eating afternoon teas, which has since commenced.

I’ve always been the type of person that enjoys their own company, a bit of me time. But I’m also the complete opposite of that, feeling totally at home amidst the excitement of being part of a crowd, an audience. A mass of individuals going through a similar yet unique experience.

Gig going is a reasonably accessible hobby of mine. (Once the tickets have been purchased that is). While watching a show, band or comedian, I am the same as everyone else. My participations isn’t limited or restricted. My experience is equal. Believe it or not, that is pretty rare when you’re me.

So, I had this urge to be a part of that again.

I also had two massive stadium gigs approaching in just a few weeks, both have been postponed for two years, and I’m determined to see them now.

So I also needed a little practice run. It’s been quite some time since I’ve enjoyed spending time with multiple humans. And during said time many of them have made me rage.

I knew the Norfolk and Norwich Festival was coming up. An annual event that brings all kinds of art from all over the world to the local area. I’ve seen some brilliant shows at this before, including the immersive play Black Watch, and Wolf’s Child a woodland theatrical experience.

I’d also seen some circus and cabaret acts in the Spiegletent. Which is what I decided to go for this time. A Spiegletent is a travelling wooden and canvas structure that hosts a whole array of entertainment all over the world. It’s easily accessible for my wheels, with a slight lip wooden ramp entrance and no fixed seating plan means chairs can be moved around to allow many wheelchair users access.

Front of the Spiegletent looks like an old fashioned circus front in yellow, blue and wood. A wooden decking ramp entrance to dark wooden doors.

Usually for any event, anywhere, I would phone to book tickets. There aren’t that many venues that provide an online booking system for wheelchair access and additional companions, and when they have done, it’s never been straightforward.

However, while browsing the show schedule of acts I thought it won’t hurt to have a little look at the booking options, see the pricing and ticket choices. To my surprise when selecting which area you’d like to sit in, wheelchair spaces came up as a clickable option, as did a complementary companion. When I went to select it said it wasn’t available, so I tried a different date but still came up with the same thing.

Sensible me thought to take a peruse of the website and see what information there is on access requirements. I discovered that if you sign up for a free account (which I already had from previous years) and click on ‘other preferences’ in your account section, a whole list of access requirements comes up for you to select. I ticked ‘I’m a wheelchair user (electric)’ and ‘I require a personal assistant/companion’. There were other options such as ‘I’m a wheelchair user (manual)’, ‘I use a wheelchair but prefer to transfer to seat’, ‘I need to know about strobe lighting’, and ‘I have a registered Assistance Dog’.

This then becomes part of your profile for any bookings you make. It enables you to purchase accessible tickets online without any hassle. I didn’t even need to send proof of disability, answer 101 questions, or pay an extra fee for an Access Card. I didn’t have to apply and wait to find out if I qualified. I realise this may leave things open to be taken advantages of, but most people out there are good ones.

I booked my wheelchair access space and complimentary companion ticket online, independently, spontaneously, worry free, and most of all equally. Just like anyone else.

I was going to see Cirque Alfonse’s performance of Barbu – Electro Trad Cabaret.

Inside the circus tent. The canvas top hangs in bold red fabric drapes. A dark wooden floor is filled with wooden chairs. There are spotlights on creating ambient lighting.

Barbu means ‘beaded man’ in French, and there were certainly a few of those. At some points the beard being the only form of body covering!

Two bearded white men wearing only black pants stand just off stage within the audience. They are facing each other and one is holding a large ball.

A kind of eclectic mix of performance stunts including juggling (various objects), corde lisse aerial acrobatics, roller skating (much more exciting than I’m making it sound), acrobatic gymnastics that defy human strength and gravity, magic, and a human disco ball spinning inside a hoop, are accompanied by a live folk-punk-esque band and endless innuendo.

A lady in bright red gymnastics suit is hanging from a rope performing aerial acrobatics. Her legs are doing the splits along the rope that is hanging from the centre of canvas draped ceiling.

A little bit like Eurovision for the circus lover, this wacky, warming, full on entertaining and hilarious show was a great start for me getting back out there.


An image to pin. Photo inside the spiegletent with title text Back In The Crowd - Barbu NNFestival at the bottom in grey on a cream background.

6 thoughts on “Back In The Crowd – Barbu NNFestival”

  1. How lovely! I’m glad you got out to the show which looks and sounds fantastic.

    It’s tempting to stay a recluse forever but I guess that’s not too healthy. Well done for getting out again.

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  2. I’ve never actually been in a Spiegel tent. I need to get out more. Well, start going back out again perhaps. I’m glad you’ve been doing just that. God bless BGT. It makes many want to fork their eyes out, but it makes you get back into gigging.

    “Cirque Alfonse’s performance of Barbu – Electro Trad Cabaret.” – that whole thing went right over my head. I don’t know what you’ve just said. So Barbu is a bearded man. That’s the name of the show? In which case, is Electro Trad a form of cabaret? I’m liking the sound of it as it seems pretty varied, vibrant and lighthearted. Just what you need after living with Covid for so long and needing to dip your toe back in the water again. I did see your post on social media about how good the booking process was and how accessible the experience was overall, which is fantastic to hear. xx

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  3. So glad you are back to being in the audience. I’ve been back to gigs for a while now and the first time is definitely the hardest so hopefully you can fully enjoy your upcoming gigs to g the be max

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