Don’t make waves: Know the 5 unspoken rules of apartment pool etiquette

6/15/95 10K THE WATER'S FINE: A hot, humid day draws a crowd to the McInnis Aquatic Center in Concord. It's operated by the City of Concord and is open 1-6 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays and 2-6 p.m. Sundays. (UNPUBLISHED NOTES:) (6/11/95 G.SMITH) A hot, humid day draws a crowd to at the McInnis Aquatic Center in Concord. Christopher A. Record/staff

I’m from Syracuse, N.Y., where it sometimes snows until the end of April and often starts up again as early as October.

The notion of having a pool in your apartment complex there is laughable. If you do have one, it’s filled with leaves, dead beetles and sadness, so you never venture into it unless you’re forced to for some reason.

Upon moving to Charlotte, my first peek at my apartment complex’s pool had me convinced I had traveled back to a 2005 live taping of MTV’s “Spring Break: Cancun.” 

I was fascinated.

As I entered the pool area, I saw guys grilling pounds and pounds of meat. I saw a girl leaning over her balcony, pouring champagne two stories down into someone’s mouth. (Most ended up in his eyes). People were playing dizzy bat and blasting music.

My friend and I turned to each other, feeling foolish with our Kindles and water bottles. I quickly decided that I would need to become an anthropologist of sorts, studying Charlotte pool culture carefully. Two years later, I’ve realized that there are unspoken rules that come with an apartment’s pool. 

(1) First one to the pool gets to DJ.

Poolside music is great. But when you’ve got three different song choices going, my brain wants to explode. This is why the first group to fire up the speaker wins. If you absolutely must hear your choice of music, play it quietly.

(2) Know that the pool is a great place to make friends.

It’s not weird to strike up a conversation with the people hanging out next to you, promise! Share some snacks. Be friendly.

(3) Be generous with the bathroom code.

Many apartment pools require you to know some sort of a code in order to access the bathroom. These codes are almost always confusing and make you question how you got a degree. Be nice and help people out if you see them jiggling the door and doing the potty dance.

(4) Realize that not everyone wants to play your game.

The other weekend I watched a group of guys playing Wiffle Ball in the pool. They kept taking monster swings each time they were at bat.

Tensions rose after they hit a girl with the ball at least four times while she was trying to simply relax and sip a Raz-ber-rita.

Remember: you may think your game is really fun, but not everyone wants to play it. Let the girl enjoy her poor choice of drink in peace.

(5) Be polite with the chair saving situation.

Save away if your friend is truly coming in five minutes. But if it’s been three hours and people are selling their souls and first-born children for space, be a doll and surrender the chair.

Unless your pal shows up with an amazing array of snacks and enough beer for us all, guarding it for hours is in poor taste and karma will deal with you accordingly.

Key themes to take away: be nice, be polite, have a good time. It’s the Southern way.

Photo: Charlotte Observer file


  1. You can kiss my ass on the first person gets to choose music. Everyone should playit quietly.

    I don’t want to hear music about bitches and Niggers.

    I go to the pool to relax.

    email address provided it’s not really mine just wanted to get my point across .


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