Joe Shablotnik

The Expert's Guide to Pool Party Etiquette

Lotion, latex, and loungers—here's everything you need to know to make sure your next poolside soiree goes off with a splash.

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23 June 2017, 9:48am

Joe Shablotnik

Swimming pools, like chip shops, pubs, and branches of Games Workshop are quiet sanctuaries in an otherwise chaotic and uncaring world. And like those other spaces, they let us conduct personal rituals in public places, letting us believe, for a minute or two, that who we are is right and just and true. Prefer Tyranids to Eldar Harlequins? Fine. Got a predilection for pickled onions bathed in curry sauce? You're the boss. No one's going to bat an eyelid if you want your Guinness topped up with dry roasted peanuts. And, honestly, if the method you've developed for getting your bollocks dry after an early morning splash involves talcum powder and a GHD, then good on you mate. Get them as dry as you can. Dry those pendulous, swinging bollocks, son.

Obviously, swimming pools aren't just a way of letting men dry their balls in public. You can swim in them! Dive in them! Piss in them! You, famously, can't heavy-pet in them but pretty much anything else goes. You can even, if you absolutely must, party in them.

The idea of a pool party is a seductive one, beaming, as it does, visions of toned and tanned Californians whooping with delight straight into the mind's eye. There's pastel skies and the click of cracking Budweisers, Camel-branded trunks and cocktail jugs, a golden-hued picture of the purest kind of paradise.

That, of course, is the imagined version of the pool party. The reality is a little different, a little less glamorous, a little less Beverley Hills 901210. Rather than being surrounded by Tommy Hilfiger models called Chad atop the roof of a shabbily-chic hotel, you're dodging discarded doner kebab debris in a Croatian paddling pool next to what might be the bloke who played Tony's brother in Hollyoaks.

Still, with more and more festivals factoring bodies of water into the hedonistic equation, you'll probably want to know how to handle them properly. After all, does life get better than listening to dance music whilst stood knee deep in a swimming pool, clutching onto an over-priced assemblage of ice, vodka, and more ice? No. Surely, it can't? Surely not!

All photos by Joe Shablotnik, via Flickr.

1. Don't Get Too Pissed

Let's start with a genuinely serious and important safety message: swimming pools can be exceptionally dangerous places when combined with copious amounts of booze. Sure, I get it, the temperature's risen to 37 degrees and Craig David's only minutes away from doing his singing-DJ routine and you've not been properly sober since you landed here six days ago now, and yes I can see that the blokes from People Just Do Nothing appear to be drinking Ibiza's entire vodka supply dry, but I also know that you can't swim and that you're likely to forget that quite vital fact if you buy and drink three shots of sambuca, six bottles of tequila-infused lager, and a big foaming jug of mead in seven minutes.

Drowning isn't the only thing that might occur as a result of over-excited imbibing. You might, for example, suck down one ice-cold cruiser too many and lose your footing, creating a wet, bodily variation on the intricate sequences of dominos that shut-ins spend hours crafting. You could, if things go really wrong, throw your plastic cup full of sugared-ethanol in the air through pure excitement, not realising that the cup's trajectory will in fact mean that you've accidentally cut the power supply for Craig David's microphone, inadvertently rendering the goateed garage legend musically impotent!

2. Don't Piss in the Pool

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a working urinary system will, when confronted with any body of water, likely piss in it. Do not trust anyone who says they don't piss in the shower, because pissing in the shower is both totally natural and actually a good way of doing your bit for the environment. Similarly, be wary of anyone who claims to never piss in the swimming pool, because, again, everyone pissess in the swimming pool. Swimming is a sadly really boring form of exercise, and anything one can do to liven it up is welcomed, and yes, that does include taking a piss during another desultory set of front crawls.

Still, there's a huge gulf between letting a few drips slide out at the deep end of the local baths, and intentionally pissing at a pool party. The former is a guilt-free exercise in time saving, the latter is literally pissing yourself in public like a child. Children have the excuse of, well, being children. You, a 27 year old recruitment officer on a stag do in Ayia Napa, have none. You've just pissed yourself mate, and now we've all got to stand in it. We've got to go for dinner later that evening covered in your piss. Cheers.

3. Have Some Sense of Spatial Awareness

Pool parties are usually very busy affairs because most of us have rightly or wrongly decided that being stood in a pool is instantly more fun than not being stood in a pool, so if there's any chance of having even half a little toe in the water, we'll jostle, shove, and barge to make it happen. Like getting on the tube during rush hour, pool parties bring out the inherent selfishness most of us possess but have the good sense to try and disguise. Our elbows sharpen, our resolve gets steelier, and if you dare try and stop us from taking up our rightful position in the pool, you better prepare for some of the most passive-aggressive "CHEERS MATE, NO HONESTLY, CHEERS, NO, YOU STAY THERE, NOT A PROBLEM MATE"s you've ever heard.

If you are lucky enough to get a spot in the water, prepare to spend the entire duration of the party playing a kind of human Jenga, your body working on pure instinct, immediately twisting and turning to accommodate the endless waves of flesh that are gradually turning the entire audience into one solid, sunburnt lump of nylon-clad flesh, jumping up and down in unison to a Bastille DJ set.

4. Use Suncream Properly

Oh, you think, I'm going to be in the pool all day. It's cool in the pool, so I don't need to lather myself up in factor 50 to the point where I look like a ghost of Topman past. Wrong. You do. Unlike a day spent under a parasol at the beach, or lying face-first in a darkened room after a night so heavy you feel disquieted and disorientated for months, the pool party offers you pretty much zero in the way of protection. Slide yourself in the fleshy wall without prior preparation and prepare to peel into perpetuity.

Think about it—as much fun as one of Clean Bandit playing "Jump Around" to a pool full of second year business students on a Greek island is, would you enjoy it half as much if every time you looked down you noticed more and more loose flaps of burnt skin flopping around the place? Would you still try and rap along to "99 Problems" while sucking alcohol out of an inflatable watermelon slice, or would you feel revulsion rise in your throat, followed by an insatiable desire to rip your own flesh clean from your skeleton? Your call.

5. Resist the Urge to Canonball

While it totally would make you a total fucking legend, please, please, please fight any urge you may have to lob your flabby, pasty, beer-swollen body into the shallow end while quoting Anchorman.