“We are our own audience”.

That’s how saxophone John described the Orb party during the creative writing class the next day. There’s so many John’s here that I’ve started to refer to them by their talents and hobbies!

“We are our own audience” describes exactly what the Orb is about perfectly. Creativity, positive outlet, and most importantly, inclusivity.

As I arrived, there were people mulling around the kettle chatting and making cups of tea; people taking their seats getting ready to watch the show; people stacking their plates high with the delicious food that the cooking and baking group had made (or maybe everyone else except me stacked their plates with normal sized portions!) and some people stood bashfully around the edges of the main room or the side room, casually observing until they felt comfortable enough to join in.

As well as being our own audience, we were free to stand quietly in the background, or to chat to nearby people; whatever we preferred. No one forced anyone to join in when they didn’t want to, and everyone was approachable and friendly whenever we did choose to interact with others. We were free to just be ourselves without being judged and without having any expectations to live up to.

The singing group sang in a perfect harmony which made me wish that I could sing. Then the leader of the group got all of us to join in. That would be horrific in any other situation; but it was done in such a fun, informal and non-forceful way that I enjoyed it! Not only did I enjoy it, I also managed not to ruin the harmony with my strangled cat tenor! With us being our own audience, no one was there telling us that we were out of tune, singing in the wrong pitch, or offering any other judgement or standard to uphold. Everyone, no matter what their ability, could get involved and have fun.

Though that certainly shouldn’t make it sound amateur by any means. Incredible talent and creativity was manifested by all the performers, the cooking and baking group and the art group, who made the very pretty pinatas for us to knock down with long sticks, and to eat the chocolate inside them once we did knock them down!

The Good, the bad and the beardy were very good, and very beardy! Prior to them playing, I would never have imagined drums, bass guitars and a saxophone producing something coherent; but all of them complimented each other beautifully without any instrument taking the limelight. It was most enjoyable to listen to.

Andy and Emma also did a fantastic duet with Andy on the guitar and Emma on the vocals. I really enjoyed the indie feel that their songs had.

Overall, it was a fantastic evening in which everyone got to showcase their talents, have fun and maybe even discover potential talents that they didn’t know that they had in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. I would also give the event the full five stars in terms of being autistic friendly! The lighting on the stage wasn’t too bright so I didn’t leave with a migraine; the sound was just loud enough for everyone at the event to hear without being deafened (loud sounds are especially anxiety provoking for my autistic brain); there was plenty of space to get up and move around without being crushed and without scraping shoulders with people, and plenty of quiet spaces to go to if you needed a break from the social and sensory stimuli.

It was wonderful to see how much everyone’s hard work paid off, and how many people felt comfortable enough to come out of their shell in the safe and welcoming environment that the Orb provides.

(written by Jennifer)