Text and photographs by Angharad Bailey
It was the summer of 2015 when I discovered my pool club. The pool club is an annual tradition for me, and I look forward to it like a child looks forward to Christmas. While the majority of other New Yorkers go upstate to escape, I flee to my hidden pool in NYC.
The pool feels like another little world to me, it’s my happy place. It’s the bright colors, the water, the mix of young and old people, and the rare view of the city I see while lounging by the pool that attracts me. But what I love most of all is playing cards—rummy—by the pool.
My friend Linda and I have been vacationing together for years, always going somewhere warm and staying at hotels by the ocean that have amazing swimming pools. Sun, ocean and pool are the important factors for us when deciding where we should vacation next. On these vacations we would play rummy for hours. When we got too hot we would take it in turns to jump into the pool to cool off while the other figured out their next meld to play. Working out a play or meld could take a good twenty minutes sometimes.
After going to numerous hotel pools in the city, in July 2015 I discovered a pool painted in a rainbow of color by the artist Hot Tea—he named his work, ‘Asylum”. Packing two decks of cards, sun lotion, pool floats, a Polaroid camera and my Olympus MJU ii was the norm. Since then, Linda and I have spent every summer weekend and weekday we could there and when Linda was unable to come I would invite others to come with me and teach them how to play rummy. We play cards until the sun starts to set and hide behind the skyline of the city, casting a magical light over us while we near the end of our game. Dozy from the sun, I’m always a little sad to leave this little world of mine. Even though I’ve only been there for the day I feel like I’ve been away from my regular life for days. Straight away I’m looking at my schedule, working out what day I can return and escape again into this little world of mine.
Since 2015 when the pool had a make over, each year a different artist paints an eight-thousand-square-foot mural around the pool. 2015 was Hot Tea, 2016 was Andrew Faris, 2017 was Gregg Emery, 2018 was Takun Williams and this year New York based artist Elizabeth Sutton.