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Where Have all the Pools Gone?

My grandmother, a native San Franciscan, is fascinated by the New Orleans heat. “What do you when it’s hot outside?” she asks every time I see her.

I don’t know… I live, I work…

While it seemed like a frivolous inquiry the first 73 times she asked, I recently realized the question has some merit. As far as surviving the summer temperatures, New Orleanians have three options. Option A: Sweat like a pig – a pig on a treadmill, with a steep incline, at maximum speed. Option B: Quarantine yourself inside an air-conditioned building mid May; stay put until October rolls around. Option C: Find a pool.

As with all multiple choice questions, the superior answer here is C. (If you chose A or B, I do, however, applaud your tremendous resilience.)

Finding pools, at least for the twenty-something (read: property-less) crowd, is, strangely, no easy task in this city. This past Memorial Day, I was invited to a “pool” party. The pool would have been fantastic if I was under 3 feet tall and 5 years old. Yes, the pool I was promised was, in fact, a kiddie pool.

Last summer, I attended a Fourth of July pool party, and, while I couldn’t deflate the pool with my keys, I could have cultured the opaque water and grown all kinds of exotic microbes. I honestly would have consider diving into the Mississippi before dipping a toe into that cesspool.

Since I’m neither 4 years old, nor in the market to contract a staph infection, I’ve recently realized that public pools are my best bet. So, for the next few weeks, I’ll be reviewing the city’s public (non-inflatable and noninfectious) pools. It’s a rough job, but someone’s got to do it.

Where Have all the Pools Gone

Chapter 1: “We’re in New Orleans — not Hawaii, not the Bahamas, not even close to the South Pacific.”

This is key to note, people. If you’re looking for a pool that makes you think you’re on a tropical beach or resort, merge onto I-10 and keep driving until you hit the Louis Armstrong Airport exit. If that fails, throw on a little Bob Marley and focus on images from a summer issue of Travel and Leisure.

indulge pool

Indulge’s pool

Now that we’ve all accepted that we’re in New Orleans, let’s talk about Indulge Island Grill (845 Carondelet). While you’ll probably notice that the self-proclaimed “most unusual health and country club” bears no resemblance to either a country club or island resort, the unassuming and under-the-radar establishment is certainly worth a visit.

Here’s what you need to know:

Atmosphere/ Service: Indulge has a local quality to it. It’s the pool version of your favorite neighborhood bar, where the drinks are cheap and the bartender addresses you as honey instead of miss, ma’am, or sir. The grill’s mellow attitude (a.k.a. its New Orleanianness) runs deep. When I inquired about how late the pool stays open, I was told until the bar closed. When does the bar close? Well, of course, when patrons decide to leave.

The weekday crowd is sparse and unpretentious – a few people floating in the pool, a guy studying, a group of girls tanning. Definitely wouldn’t be weird to come here alone.

They feature daily pool activities such as karaoke, trivia, volleyball, and a DJ during the weekend. There’s a $10 cover to use the pool all day, except for Mondays and Tuesdays, both of which are cover-free, and Fridays, which feature a reduced $5 cover fee for ladies.

Pool: The pool is, well, a pool. It’s not on a roof-top. It doesn’t have slides, or waterfalls, or a swim-up bar. The most prominent bell and whistle is its reserve of foam noodles. But, again, it’s a pool. A pool that you can’t deflate or contract bacterial infections from. There’s plenty of lounge chairs, which you should have no trouble procuring on a weekday, as well as a cabana you can rent.

Food/ Bar: Indulge has a full service bar and cafe, both of which you can enjoy  indoors or poolside. In keeping with its unassuming atmosphere, this is not the pool you go to to buy a $16 glass of pink sugar water with a splash of mediocre vodka and a browning strawberry. I’m fine with this. I asked the bartender to see the cocktail menu, to which she responded, “No, no, baby, you should get one of our happy hour specials. $1 PBRs. That’s the best deal.”

In addition to its normal cafe and cocktail menus, Indulge runs happy hour food and drink specials. Monday through Thursday, from 3 – 7 PM, and Fridays from 3 – 9 PM, they offer $3 wells, $2 domestic bottles, $2 Jäger shots (always a good idea at 3 PM on a Tuesday afternoon), $1 PBRs, and $1-3 small bites.  On weekends they have $3 mimosas and $10 buckets of beer.

Check back next week, when we discuss the difference between the Country Club and a  country club.

Chelsea Lee is assistant editor of NolaVie. Email comments to her at


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