POOL PROJECT: August 26, West Village

by elizabeth | August 27th, 2010

Where else can you swim under a Keith Haring mural? Apparently he painted the dang thing freehanded, too! Check out a really cool video about his two Manhattan murals, this one and the “Crack is Wack” one on 128th and FDR.

Lap swimming in really cold water on a really cold night was the name of the game, and I met up with my friend (and fabulous textile designer) Micaela Zahner to do it at Tony Dapolito pool in the West Village. We had to register with name, address, and medical conditions to get a card to swim! I hadn’t encountered this before, but apparently it’s standard lap swim practice. I wonder if this is for counting purposes? Our registration numbers were in the 600s, so people are definitely using the pool!

The pool is nice, and swimming under the mural is fantastic. However, I suspect that the attraction for many kids is the diving pool area! This is only the second pool I’ve seen with a diving board; it wasn’t open during lap swim time, but it looks like it’s most likely open during general swim time.

The Recreation Center was named for the unofficial “Mayor of Greenwich Village,” who, among other things, fought Robert Moses’s plan to extend Fifth Avenue through Washington Square Park. The building opened in 1908 as a public bath house, and the Center has been expanding ever since. There is a beautiful indoor pool here (dry for the summer), big lockers, and hot showers (yay!). The area abuts a nice playground, a handball court, and a lighted baseball field. Everyone around seems to be carrying a racket or wearing a terrycloth headband.

Here’s how Micaela described the evening:

When I got wind of Elizabeth’s mission, I knew I wanted in.

We chose a day and time and met up on the corner of Houston and Varick. Elizabeth was warming up in the evening sun, sitting on some sort of metal non-fire-hydrant thing. She needed some warming up, of course, because she had been to 2 pools already. Her hair was still wet.

We stood on the corner for a few minutes discussing the recent events of our lives. Lately I have been rocking out to the funky sounds of Cee Lo’s new song entitled “F You.” When Elizabeth said she hadn’t heard it, I brought it up on my phone (loving that data plan with internet) and we grooved. We grooved in our hearts and we grooved with our bodies, too. Yes, we danced on the street corner in the evening sun.

Skip a few minutes and we were in the glorious (glorious? It was a cold night) pool. It is so cool to swim in the city amid the tall buildings, mostly because my subconscious memories of swimming take place in the ponds and lakes of Vermont which are definitely not amid tall buildings. While in the water, I said “the water tastes funny… not that I’m TRYING to taste it.” Elizabeth laughed and informed me that what I had just said merits me a spot as a guest blogger. Yesssss. Agreed.

The next quoteable moment was when we were walking back to the locker rooms. I was acknowledging how cool it is that Elizabeth’s towel has a loop sewn into it for hanging on hooks. Mid-conversation Elizabeth goes, “I am TOTALLY in the wrong room. Sorry.” The person standing in that room was a man and we were in the men’s locker room. Oops.

We then went to Ali Baba’s on MacDougal for some good falafel. Cheap too! Two dolla fitty cent. We sat on the bench outside to watch the village madness. With a direct view of the Empire State Building’s red white and blue lights (lit in honor of Women’s Equality Day, 90th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment), I reflected on how awesome our night was and how much (a lot) Elizabeth is “the s*it.”

STATUS: 24 pools down, 13 to go

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elizabeth! is a vocalist, trombonist, and songwriter working in NYC and Los Angeles. Originally from Vermont, she studied neuroscience at Harvard before moving to NYC to play, tour, and record with jazz musicians, indie rockers, pop stars and more. Her new album of original jazzy pop tunes was just released on Canopy Jazz!

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