A friend of mine recently agreed to entertain her boss’s grade-school-aged children on a Saturday afternoon.
“I’m taking the kids swimming at The Country Club,” she told me. “So I’ll need my conservative swimsuit back from you.”
I wasn’t sure which was odder — that she was taking children to The Country Club, or that she felt obliged to dress modestly at a nude pool.
“A country club or The Country Club?” I asked.
“The Country Club.”
“The Country Club? The Country Club in the Bywater?”
“Yes, yes. The Country Club. I’m in a hurry, so – -”
“I certainly wouldn’t want to hold up your plans to take kids who can’t get into a PG-13 movie to a nude pool.”
“It’s clothing op-tion-al. Their parents take them there all of the time.”
Two Hours Later:
(Via text): “Apparently there are two country clubs…”
Where have all the pools gone?
Chapter 2: The Country Club is not a country club.
It’s also not an arcade, a zoo, an amusement park, or any other place one might take a child (or, for that matter, anyone under 21).
Fortunately, due to The Country Club’s stringent age policy (and adamant carding procedure), my friend narrowly evaded an impromptu course in human anatomy with the kids, salvaged her job, and saved the family a call from Child Protective Services.
Now, if both you and your company are over 21, here’s the rest of what you need to know:
Atmosphere/ Service: If you’re the person who sprints from the locker room door into a private changing room, with your eyes either shut or firmly planted on the ceiling, dodging everything with a heartbeat like detonating land mines, The Country Club is not your scene.
While my friend was right when she pointed out that The Country Club is, in fact, clothing optional, (and only about 50 percent of the crowd elects to forgo swimwear), everyone appears unmoved by the nudity factor (i.e. neither nude persons nor clothed persons form an isolated colony along the margins of the grounds). The eccentric crowd — male, female, nude, adorned in a one-piece, 20 years, 50 years — everyone blends. And that’s exactly what makes it comfortable, unique, New Orleans.
Make no mistake though, The Country Club does not embody spatio-social anarchy. For example, the crowd abides to the every-other rule that applies to parking lots: we’re not livestock, so if there’s no shortage of spots/chairs, you don’t need park on top of other patrons; skip a space.
Service is, well, fine; it’s not as quaint as its aesthetic counterpart. Servers, bartenders, hosts — none were rude, but none were exceptionally friendly. All will be polite, but don’t expect to be old buddies.
There’s a $10 cover fee Monday – Friday and $15 on Saturday and Sunday. You can rent towels and lockers for $2 each.
Pool: The pool is both moderately sized and equipped (think bigger and better than your typical home pool but an inferior relative of what you’d find at a four- or five-star hotel). A couple of nice features include its built-in seating, pool toys, saltwater, and generously sized outdoor showers, which they insist you use before entering the pool — a comfort when people swim nude.
The grounds — landscaping and architecture — are functional and attractive. The lush foliage ensures privacy from customers at neighboring establishments, while simultaneously channeling a charming colonial-Jamaican aesthetic when juxtaposed with a poolside tiki bar and the modest, canary yellow plantation-style building with a wrapping porch.
Food/ Bar: There is a bar each indoors and poolside. The cocktail list is tropically-oriented, refreshing, and reasonably priced ($5-$10 for most drinks). They run a daily happy hour from 5 – 8 PM: $3 domestic beers and wells. Any time it’s raining, it’s also happy hour.
The sit-down restaurant also offers the full menu poolside. The food is so-so, with prices that have inflated egos. If you’re starving and/or too lazy to go anywhere else, it’s convenient; otherwise, I’d head over to Booty’s Street Food, which is across the street.
Check back next week for the third installment of Where have all the pools gone?, when I venture over to the W pool and examine its resemblance to the Jersey Shore.
Chelsea Lee is assistant editor of NolaVie. Email comments to her at email@example.com.