Why are Deaf clubs closing and is this actually a problem?
Deaf pub nights are sometimes advertised online, the trouble is they often charge entry fees, children are barred and it is harder to access information about welfare cuts for example.
According to Director of DeafLondon Thomas Lichy, the internet is the main catalyst:
“We’re (both Deaf and Hearing people) going through a culture change. Pubs, nightclubs, high street shops, various forms of social centres are all closing at high rates. Teenagers and adults are going out far less, possibly due to the rise of Facebook and internet culture. Groups of friends are making private arrangements to meet up through Facebook, WhatsApp etc. Deaf people are also going through the same evolution. There are two ways for organisations to deal with it: a) support the shift in personal preferences, and help newcomers / isolated people to engage with the new ways of arranging social events. b) reexamine what draws people to congregate in public spaces, how to make them more ’sticky’.”
Robert G. Lee is Senior Lecturer in BSL & Deaf Studies at the University of Central Lancashire. He thinks the main reason for the fall of the Deaf club was video calling:
“Unfortunately, culture and people’s socialising habits change and I think it’s up to the Deaf community what ways they use to get together and what works for them as individuals and Deaf people. In the pre-internet days even with the early advent of mobile phones it was very difficult for Deaf people to communicate with each other unless people had minicoms. Now you can video your friends pretty much anywhere you have a fairly strong signal making it less of a need to get together Friday night at the same physical place.”
While seeing this as inevitable, he also sees downsides:
“I learned to sign in the States first, and I used to go to the Deaf club with my Deaf friends every week and what you saw at the Deaf club was everybody from babies up to people in their 90s, a whole range of Deaf people. I learned to communicate with people of different ages and genders, whereas now people tend to hang out with those of a similar age to them. People don’t get to see the range of community that the Deaf clubs offered, that was my experience. I train interpreters and most of the students get used to hanging around with people their own age and learn the sort of BSL used by that specific age group so you can’t be as effective an interpreter.”
One way to encourage socialising is with music. Troi “DJ Chinaman” Lee is the founder of Deaf Rave:
“I organise Deaf Rave events. We do this purely to keep Deaf Culture alive and keep our Deaf Identity alive. We have an event coming up on September 8 2018, 600 Deaf people are expected to come to this event.” http://www.deafrave.com
This marks Deaf Rave’s 15th anniversary.