Cultivating spaces for extraordinary artists

In Memory of David Toole by a friend

In Memory of David Toole
by an old friend

Yesterday I was tidying up and listening to radio 4, a man was explaining how a friend he hadn’t seen for years was still touching his life because of what he had learnt from him. The presenter got the two old friends together on the phone and enabled a beautiful reunion moment.

The programme made me think of Dave Toole, and all the people his life has touched. He was my friend, ex postman, dancer, performer, disabled activist, and he was so much more. I hate saying ‘was’, partly because it’s painful and I and many others would like it not be be true, and partly because it isn’t true.

What Dave was... he still is.

He is still dancing, you can watch him in the films that were made featuring his work, well known is the Channel 4 film ‘The Cost of Living’ (DV8 2004).

He is still telling his story, through recorded interviews, and through his semi biographical work ‘The Enormous Room’ (2017-19) with Stopgap Dance Company.

He is still flying, you can watch him soar over the Olympic stadium, arms outstretched ‘like a condor’ as one newspaper put it.

And more than any of this, Dave has made an imprint on the world that can only remain and grow. His humble, focused commitment to equality and diversity, combined with his empowering encouragement of the next generation of disabled people to do their thing, to dance, to take up space, his embodiment of our right as disabled people to pursue our passions, this is a lasting invaluable legacy. It IS… not was.

It is important now and will ripple out like the beat of a butterfly (or condor) wing for generations to come.

So I honour all that Dave was and is. I embrace memories of his love and laughter, his extraordinary talent, his droll comments and grumpy smile (Dave is the only person I know who could do that), his tenacity, his sass and his beautiful strong and tender hands.

And I celebrate his ongoing presence in the world and all that it can lead to.

I find myself having a glass of fizz, Dave’s tipple of choice, and wishing the radio 4 presenter could arrange a beautiful reunion for us too, as he did for the two old friends. It sadly can’t be, but I know he is still among us.

David Toole, RIP, fly forever my friend.

1964 -2020