ALMOST 100 people with learning disabilities piled into a Portsmouth bar this week for a night of singing, dancing and laughter.
Kingsley’s in Osborne Road, Southsea, arranged a night for day centre users across the Portsmouth area, giving them the chance to enjoy a proper night out.
Sing-alongs, a talent show and plenty of dancing soon followed, with the bar helping to make long-lasting memories for the partygoers.
Proprietor Steve Kingsley has been running nights like this since the 1970s, and says he enjoys putting a smile on other people’s faces.
He said: ‘We try to recreate the nights that their brothers and sisters would have here – it’s the same thing they hear about time and again but never get to experience themselves.
‘They arrive, go past the bouncer on the door and immediately jump onto the dancefloor; it’s wonderful to see.’
Mr Kingsley, 70, believes making memories for those with learning difficulties is crucial, as they will be talked about for many days to come.
What’s more, he claims the singing and dancing is better than what can be seen on most other nights.
‘They know the words to every song, which is really remarkable,’ he said.
‘The enthusiasm and fun we have on nights like this is unmatched.
‘It makes me feel quite proud, to think that what we give them is something they thoroughly enjoy.’
The event was held in association with Gig Buddies, which gives people with learning disabilities the opportunity to attend events in the region.
Project co-ordinator Mike Harris said: ‘There were loads of people there and it was a great night.
‘It can be hard for people with learning disabilities to make new friends; we meet people when we go to work and in our social lives, but the only people they see are their carers and their families.
‘It’s something that I think the rest of us tend to take for granted, but giving these guys the chance to spend time with one another and make friends is very special indeed.’