The Byford and Districts Country Club has become host to the hottest event in town, with tickets selling months in advance for its second EasyBeatz night.
Party bangers welcomed diehard dancers to the floor on Thursday to throw shapes, while others used the opportunity to mingle.
But unlike a seedy night out in Northbridge, EasyBeatz is a scene with a difference.
The event is the brainchild of the team at APM Communities who wanted to create a fun, inclusive social event for people with disability at mainstream, public venues.
“The focus on it being at a mainstream live venue was important – we didn’t want to hide away and have it at a town hall,” APM Communities Local Area Coordinator Shane Guthrie said.
“These sorts of events should be normal in the community – it’s not hard to be welcoming and inclusive.”
The event has been successfully running at the Brighton Hotel in Mandurah for around 18 months, but now the people of the cities of Armadale, Gosnells, Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale and surrounds have somewhere to shake a tail feather too.
EasyBeatz is not just a night out for people with disability, it’s also an event organised and facilitated by them too.
Resident DJ Cara Baldwin – AKA DJ Incredable – is a professional with an enviable and extensive resume of gigs at popular music festivals, events and venues. She is also a woman living with disability.
She lives and breathes music, practising her skills every day, and loves nothing more than to uplift people with her eclectic sets.
“I love making the people dance, seeing them smile and be happy,” she said.
“It makes me feel happy. It’s my goal to be a DJ.
“I play pop, RnB, party bangers, hip hop, rock, disco, house, and I love being on the microphone.”
She said she thoroughly enjoyed her time on the decks at EasyBeatz and can’t wait for the next one.
The popularity of the event has defied even the organisers’ expectations, proving how needed this kind of inclusive night-time social event was for the community at large.
“I thought we might attract 40 people to our first event in November, but instead we got 80,” Shane said.
Numbers were down a little at last week’s shindig, but 60 people were still champing at the bit to get their groove on in spite of the oppressive heat wave.
“We still haven’t set a date for our third event, but people are hammering for it. Watch this space is all I can say,” Shane said.
Shane said the success of the event is in no small part thanks to the support of the team at the Byford and Districts Country Club, who instantly embraced the idea.
“We paid the DJ, covered costs and offered free food and drink at the first event because it was important for us that it was a success – we wanted it to get off the ground,” BDCC General Manager Ray Carey said.
“I don’t know why more venues don’t host these sorts of events.”
Ray said his eyes have been well and truly opened, and has used this initiation into the sphere of access and inclusion as a catalyst for more holistic change.
“Since meeting with Shane and Sam from APM and hosting the EasyBeatz events, we have adopted a brand-new strategy and direction for our club,” he said.
The BDCC is looking at redesigning its carpark to instal more ACROD parking spaces.
They plan to set up an access and inclusion sub-committee, introduce opportunities for people with disability to participate in pool and bowls competitions, initiate more quiet social opportunities for people with sensory issues, and they’ve bought a wheelchair for patrons which Ray has encouraged his staff to use during their shifts to alter their perspectives.
They have also struck up a relationship with Inclusion WA to offer work placements for people with disabilities. Ray sees this as a win-win. Not only will the club be providing an opportunity for people with disability to gain real-life work experience, but through the placements he and his staff are hoping to gain insight into how to make the workplace more inclusive too.
“I believe that practising inclusivity, and having that exposure to people with disability will help our staff become better human beings,” he said.
“I think it’s a very positive first step, and because of our position in the community I believe we should be leading that change.
“We know we’re not perfect – this will be a steep learning curve for us. But we’re more than happy to learn and improve. It all comes down to us being a community club first and foremost.”
Photographs – Richard Polden.