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Weightless One’s Hip Bruise Factor Seating Scale

November 5, 2007

I attend a fairly large number of performances and events in the Baltimore Metropolitan area. With my size 32 ass, I often find some seating to be unfriendly to fat folks. I hope that if you are ever in the Baltimore area or are a guest at any of the other venues I mention, that this guide will help. And if you have any questions or want recommendations on what to see while you’re in the area, feel free to contact me at weightlessone at gmail dot com.

Also, many venues have an open seating area reserved for those in wheelchairs. If you want to get tickets for a performance, call ahead, and ask if that space is being used. If not, you may be able to bring your own comfy folding chair and use that space. Because the arts and all venues should be accessible to everyone—not just skinny folks, handicapped folks, and people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds, but fat folks of all sizes.


The Hip Bruise Factor—broken down

1 Seating is completely comfortable or allows for adjustments that provide complete comfort

2 Seating is very comfortable, but not absolutely completely comfortable

3 Seating is comfortable, but may be a little small

4 Seating is fairly comfortable, but small

5 Seating is okay comfort-wise, but seats are small and you may have to jostle to get satisfactorily


6 Seating is bordering on being uncomfortable

7 Seating is uncomfortable, but manageable

8 Seating is increasingly uncomfortable and may cause bruising at this point

9 Seating is horribly uncomfortable and causes visible bruising to hips, butt, or back—the seating is

so painful that it will actually completely distract you from the performance/event that you came

to see

10 Seating—what seating? My ass will never fit in this seat and I’m not about force it and incur

serious injury—this is the “I want my money back” seat

Baltimore City

Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA), Meyerhoff Auditorium

10 Art Museum Drive

HB Factor of 8
I heard Nikki Giovanni speak here during Baltimore Book Festival. The seats are movie theatre style fold down seats and I felt very cramped. My knees hit the seat in front of me so there was no way to scoot forward and sit on the edge of the seat. I actually muffin-topped over the armrests, which were solid metal with wooden armrests. My legs were sore from being unable to move because they were jammed against the seat in front of me.


Center Stage
700 N. Calvert Street

Center Stage contains two theatres so I will review them separately.

Head Theatre—HB Factor of 9

I almost couldn’t stand sitting in these seats. The performance I last saw there (Things of Dry Hours) was riveting so that helped. The seats were cramped. I found myself constantly jostling, leaning forward, sitting on the very tip of the seat, and making every effort to find a way to sit without being in pain. The open metal armrests bit into my sides and I found visible bruising in those areas the following day. (this review refers to the seats in the balcony)

Pearlstone Theatre—HB Factor of 6

This is the larger of the two theatres at Center Stage and the seats are definitely larger than in the smaller Head Theatre. With a little adjustment, I was a bit cramped, but could sit rather comfortably. There was a hip bruise factor, but it was one that I could manage without pain once I was situated. Getting situated took some work, but a bit of my hips fit through the open sides of the armrests and I was not squeezed so tight that it was painful. (this review refers to the seats in the orchestra)

Falvey Hall, Brown Center, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA)
1300 Mt. Royal Avenue

HB Factor of 4

This is a contemporary 520-seat multi-use performance space. I saw several opera performances there during Artscape in July 2007. This space was built in 2004 so the seats are wider than in older venues. They are also movie-theatre-style seats that fold down and have solid sides. I was a little cramped, but less than in most other venues and I was able to sit comfortably through all performances.

First Mariner Arena (formerly Baltimore Arena)
201 W. Baltimore Street

HB Factor of 9

Once again, I almost couldn’t stand sitting in these seats. They were cramped and sitting forward on the seat was not an option because your knees would extend over the row of seats in front of you. It was impossible to get comfortable and I couldn’t wait for the performance to be over because I wanted out of that seat. The armrests bit into my sides and I found visible bruising on my hips the following day. (this review refers to the seats in the 100, 200, and 300 level areas)

Lyric Opera House

140 W. Mt. Royal Avenue

HB Factor of 9

The Opera House opened to the public in 1894 (it was called a ‘Music Hall’ then). Being an older building, the seats are incredibly small with metal armrests that are open on the sides. The seats fold down like movie theatre seats. I saw several dance performances in the Lyric recently and it was another one of those times where I couldn’t really enjoy the art because of the pain associated with sitting in the seat. You could shift forward a bit to the edge of the seat, but it really didn’t help and you ended up with bruised knees in addition to your already bruised hips. (this review refers to orchestra seats)

Oriole Park at Camden Yards
333 West Camden Street

HB Factor of 9

The seats have open sides with metal armrests that are particularly nasty as they do dig painfully into your hips. I’m surprised that these seats are so small as the stadium is not that old. (this review refers to general seating in both the lower level and the upper deck) The stadium does advertise easily accessible seats and they are wider than the other seats in the stadium (I’d say these have a HP Factor of 5). They also have open seating areas along the main aisles where a wheelchair can be parked.

Theatre Project

45 West Preston Street

HB Factor of 5

This is a small theatre that is dedicated to original experimental theatre, dance, and music. I have seen numerous performances in this space. The seats are tight, but they have solid sides and fold down much like old movie theatre seats. I think the solid sides actually lessen the HB factor because your flesh can’t stick though any openings. I could get comfortable in the seats and it was possible to sit on the edge of the seat if necessary.


*Note: I will be updating and adding to this list as I am able. Eventually you’ll be able to access it via a link on the sidebar once I figure out how to do that. Also, I hate that sometimes a fat person might need to take up space that is reserved for someone who is handicapped. Try to avoid doing this if at all possible, but sometimes, if you want to be accomodated, you have to find seating alternatives and often the handicapped space is the only alternative for a person of size.


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