AN American amputee and paralympian was enjoying a fun-filled evening at a popular night club in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur on Saturday evening when two bouncers approached him on the dance floor to “steal” his crutches, leaving him severely mortified.
The embarrassing encounter had perhaps left bestselling author and YouTube sensation Josh Sundquist emotionally scarred after he was left immobile on a dancing platform in full view of the patrons at the night club in Jalan Tun Razak.
The 31-year-old, who was in the country to give motivational talk to young people, posted a poignant video to YouTube on Wednesday describing the ordeal, breaking into tears as he recounted how he was ill-treated by the security staff at Zouk Club KL.
“So I stood on the platform in the middle of the club … For me that’s a big deal, like a really scary thing to step on to a platform in the middle of a dance club with one leg, you know, on crutches, because I used to be pretty insecure about that.
“So I stepped on to the platform and pulled Ashley (his wife) up and we’re dancing and did some spins and people in the club were like ‘yeah’ and they were excited to see an amputee who’s out and about and not afraid to just look a little different but still have a great time in a club,” he said on the video posted two days ago, which has gained over 40,000 views at the time of publishing.
He said the two were dancing for several minutes on the two-feet high platform when one of the security guards approached him to pull away one of his crutches. Another security guard then pulled away his other crutch.
“I’m standing there in the middle of the dance club without my crutches, and as a person with one leg, that means I’m immobile and I can’t move, I can’t walk,” he said in tears.
Sundquist, who wrote the bestselling book Just Don’t Fall: How I Grew Up, Conquered Illness, and Made it Down the Mountain, was in the country to give a talk at the 1Malaysia For Youth (iM4U) Reach Out programme on Saturday.
The former paralympic ski racer pointed out the irony of giving a motivational speech that was ostensibly to tell the attendees that he had gotten used to having only one leg, “only to find out 12 hours later in the night club that the pain still runs deep.”
He added he did not know why the crutches were pulled from him, although some clubs do have a policy which only allows female patrons to use dancing platforms.
“Or even worse, (for) people with disabilities we (the clubs) don’t let people see (other) people with disabilities at a night club, only beautiful people can be on our platform, god forbid someone who looks different is in the center of our club,” he said.
He said the club’s security staff did not offer any explanation for confiscating his mobility aids, adding that he and his wife Ashley Nolan left the premises immediately after the incident.
Calling them bullies, a netizen named Beth Ringlieb Bannon said the night club would close down soon if it persisted with its ‘pack mentality’.
“How dare you insult someone for the way they are physically built … It’s not going to be too soon before we forget how he was treated and he has a LOT of followers. A HUGE apology is in order and the reprimand or firing of those ‘security’ personnel is in order,” Bannon said on the club’s Facebook page.
The club’s management said it was currently investigating the incident, adding: “We are sorry for any inconvenience the incident may have caused to any of our patrons. We will provide an update on our findings soon. The Management takes the safety of its patrons seriously.”
In a statement released this afternoon, Zouk KL clarified that it did not discriminate against persons with disabilities, a policy it has held since its inception in 2004.
Reviewing close-circuit camera television (CCTV) footage, the management said Sundquist and his female companion ascended the female-only 2-ft high dance podium at Zouk’s main room.
“Within a minute, a member of the security staff approached Mr Sundquist to ask him to come down from the podium, explaining to him that the podium was for women,” said Zouk KL in the statement.
It added that the security member placed his hand on Sundquist’s back to guide him down, but the customer resisted and raised his right hand, crutch hanging at his elbow.
“The security member held the flailing crutch and managed to get a firm grip on Mr. Sundquist’s right arm and pulled him to safety, while the other security member supported his left forearm,” the club’s management said, adding: “At that point, Mr. Sundquist was dancing close to the corner of the podium and he appeared to be increasingly unsteady, as shown on the CCTV footage.”
Zouk KL explained that Sundquist was aided to keep his balance and the security staff guided him off the podium.
“During this time, Mr Sundquist’s female companion had remained on the dance floor next to the podium.
“The two security staff members promptly returned the crutches to Mr. Sundquist once they were on the dance floor, and left him in the company of his friends. The title of Mr. Sundquist’s video, ‘Security’ gang stole my crutches, is thus inaccurate,” it said.