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A Steamy Summer in Toronto, and a Pool Party Anyone Could Crash

Who needs expensive getaways when there's an escape just down the block?


Shortly after outdoor public pools close for the evening, the real action begins. On almost any given summer night in outdoor pools across the city, pool-hoppers start arriving no more than a half hour past midnight to get in on a very illegal, yet very appealing, late night pool party. A constant flow of people, of all ages and cultures, come and go throughout the night—more often than not until 4 a.m. or later, provided that the cops don’t arrive to break up the festivities.

Last week, which saw some of the hottest daytime temperatures on record in the city, the influx of illegal swimmers coming to Toronto’s public pools was also likely pushing records—though it’s not as if anyone is keeping precise data on these kinds of things. Though Thursday night, when we tagged along with some pool hoppers at Christie Pits to see the party in action, we did overhear one police officer say that the number of departing swimmers was the largest he had ever seen at any Toronto pool, ever. (The photos that accompany this story were taken last week, from Thursday through Saturday night.) Luckily for the overwhelming number of trespassing swimmers, the collective discretion of the officers determined that so long as everyone left promptly, no fines would be issued and no arrests made. (This didn’t really prevent pandemonium from breaking out among the rookie pool hoppers when some guy yelled “Shit! The cops are here!”)

Hint to any people who might try pool hopping at some point: if the authorities show up, remember that you are in a giant cage with 10-foot walls. You are at the mercy of the officers, so your best bet is to get along with them in the most respectful and polite manner possible.

What might be the most compelling aspect of pool hopping, besides the unquestionable illicit fun, is the ad-hoc community which forms each night. Pool hopping isn’t a scene. You won’t get glaring looks for not wearing the right kind of clothes (or for not wearing any clothes at all), you’re not expected to like a certain kind of band, or have a specific favourite beer, or belong to some particular subculture. There are simply no social barriers to participating in this illegal activity—though there are plenty of, well, actual barriers to participating.

Those physical barriers, in the form of 10-foot–high fences, are merely the introduction to the collaborative adventure that is pool-hopping. Few people scale the fences without the support of their friends who have come along with them, or the new friends that they make upon arrival. Typically everyone wants everyone else to have a good time, and the first step is getting everyone in.

You can easily tell who are the seasoned pool hoppers—the ones who thought well enough ahead to wear some kind of swimming attire, and were considerate enough to bring their alcohol in non-breakable plastic bottles and wine boxes. The veterans will also be the ones to explain to the rookies that they need to keep their voices and music down unless they are hoping for someone living close by to call in a noise complaint to the police. This veteran cast of characters includes, but is not limited to: free spirited (naked) hippie types, drunken frat boys hoping to get a glimpse of a nipple or two, show-boaters who risk severe personal injury to impress their friends and other pool hoppers, lovers who sit off to the side in the kiddie pool and make out, and buddies who lounge about smoking and drinking. All of them are just looking for some good-spirited fun in friendly company.

And really, how could you not have a good time when all of a sudden you find the chance to do everything you weren’t allowed to do at the pool as a kid? Running on the deck, check. Multiple people going down the slide at once, check. Multiple people going up the slide at once? Swimming naked? Making out with your significant other? Checks on all accounts.

Comments

  • ybear

    Great idea for an article to mark the end of National Drowning Prevention Week, Torontoist!

  • http://www.realjohnson.com The Real Johnson

    Sigh. It's pool hopping, dude. I appreciate your effort to maintain a certain image of Torontoist-commenter cynicism by reacting negatively to everything, but if you've got a problem with drinking beer in a pool in your underwear on a hot day while women in their underwear do the same, there's something wrong with you. 
    Torontoist: Possibly one of my favourite photo spreads yet.

  • Yeould

    “A stereotypical drunken obnoxious fratboy type”??

    Judgmental much? Since when is anyone a stereotypical anything? I know i'm not a “type,” and i know you aren't either. Describing anyone as “stereotypical” is pretty sinister if you think about it, whether he's drunk and obnoxious or not.

    Interesting article beyond that, for what it's worth! I like the black & white. Sounds like the cops handled it in a sensible manner as well.

  • isyouhappy

    AND THEY'RE SMOKING TOO! AND DRINKING!

  • http://twitter.com/natekelly Nathan Kelly

    Ah, sexy hipsters pool-hopping – one of nature's most beautiful sights.

  • isyouhappy

    I also realize I don't own the copyright to that image!

  • http://www.scotchblog.ca canuck1975

    ” There are simply no social barriers to participating in this illegal activity”

    Except that in your pictures everyone is pretty much thin & white… 

    *cough*

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5QE6EGHDRGWO2RVB6VSCJGPEKM Kevin

    I used to do this back in the day when I was in University in Vancouver. Except we did it naked. Off the 10 metre board. In January.

    Take that!

  • http://www.corbinsmith.ca Corbin Smith

    More likely than not a product of the neighbourhood which the pool is in.

  • http://www.corbinsmith.ca Corbin Smith

    I agree with the idea that no one is a “type.” People are much more complex that that. However, I do think that people can act and be interpreted as fitting a preconceived stereotype for moments in time.

  • http://piorkowski.ca qviri

    Vancouver in January… so it was 15 degrees and raining?

  • http://www.corbinsmith.ca Corbin Smith

    Also, for what it's worth, people with dark skin are not very visible in photographs taken at night against a dark background.
    While there was indeed a higher number of white toned people than other skin-toned people while I was photographing, any images of people with darker skin simply didn't turn out very well. 
    (For example, take a look at how the police officers' uniforms completely blend into the background of the third-to-last image.)

  • drybrain

    Oh my god, shut up. Should the photog have gone and recruited some ethnic minorities to balance things out? EVERYTHING is about race, eh? Lord.

  • http://www.corbinsmith.ca Corbin Smith

    canuck1975 Is entitled to be concerned, and question anything in the story. Undoubtedly, if there is one person with this concern, there will be other people that have the same concern and won'y voice it. I hope that in responding  to what canuck1975's comment I've confirmed that there are no social racial prejudices in the selection of images or among the people in the images. Any racial representation inequality here is due to the prejudices of camera optics and physics!

  • http://www.corbinsmith.ca Corbin Smith

    canuck1975 Is entitled to be concerned, and question anything in the story. Undoubtedly, if there is one person with this concern, there will be other people that have the same concern and won'y voice it. I hope that in responding  to what canuck1975's comment I've confirmed that there are no social racial prejudices in the selection of images or among the people in the images. Any racial representation inequality here is due to the prejudices of camera optics and physics!

  • torontothegreat

    Have you been to that neighbourhood? I would say it's more of a product of middle class wasps with nothing better to do.

  • torontothegreat

    Excuse me? WTF? Funny never happened to me before. Quick! Tell them to smile, show their teeth already. “Us house negroes won't give you no problems massa”.
    I'll just keep shucking and jiving, and showing my teeth.

  • http://www.corbinsmith.ca Corbin Smith

    I really dont think there are many white anglo-saxon protestants in the Christie Pits neighbourhood. I mean, I can think of a (what I think is) a Ukrainian Orthodox church, a churs of the Latter-Day Saints, and a Chinese Baptist church. None of these really correspond to what your suggesting.

  • http://www.corbinsmith.ca Corbin Smith

    I'm not apologizing for alluding to the fact that the physics of light dictate that a white pigment reflects all light, while a black pigment absorbs all light.
    http://www.physicsclassroom.co

  • torontothegreat

    Wow yea now that I think of it, the reason “why” it's only white people in all the photos is cause we ain't show'n up in any o' dem fancy camera gadgets, due to ow skincola'

    Eat it.

  • http://www.corbinsmith.ca Corbin Smith

    Yup. You got me. My camera is a racist.

  • torontothegreat

    Basing a community's diversity by religion: Priceless.

    Asia repruhzent!!! Oh wait… Oops!

  • http://www.scotchblog.ca canuck1975

    Actually, what I was pointing out is that the copy states “There are simply no social barriers to participating in this illegal activity” yet the pictures don't reflect that. I wasn't making a statement on race in any way shape or form. I was pointing out that the visuals accompanying the article did not reflect the supposed inclusiveness of the participants. 
    If you consider that turning this into race than maybe you need to look in the mirror and see who's actually pulling the race card seeing as you completely ignored the second part of my statement which is that everyone that was there was thin. I'm shocked you didn't jump on that statement and make the assumption I was saying that overweight people couldn't jump the fence and make it over and was being weightist too. 

    Corbin has provided an explanation of why there are no people of colour in the pictures which is satisfactory enough for me. I don't think he has any reason to say he discarded pictures because, through the processing he chose to use, they wouldn't have rendered well on the site. 

    Looking back I could have chosen my words more carefully to point out the egregious disconnect between copy and visual but what's said is said and what's done is done. That's all my comment was meant to point out but, you know being a double minority myself, I guess I should be more considerate of other people's sensitivities and refrain from making an offhand comment that was somehow manipulated into a comment about race.

  • http://www.corbinsmith.ca Corbin Smith

    100 points to you from writing a thoughtful response. Thank you. 
    You're absolutely correct on your comment regarding weight as a barrier to participate. I'd further extend that argument to include any person who is not athletic enough, or able-bodied enough to scale the fence. However, I would still classify this as a physical barrier, not a social barrier. I suggest that if people who were physically unable to scale the fence were able to gain access another way (I've heard of the gates being broken open) these people would be able to participate in swimming and goofing around with everyone else.
    Socially and physically, once your within the walls, we're all in this together. (Though it is admittedly more difficult for others to gain physical access.)
    Thanks again for your thoughtful and reasonable feedback.

  • torontothegreat

    You really think brown/black people don't show up in your pics, is because dark skin doesn't show up in photos, or that the supposed minorities in question are present, yet not ” there” due to skincolour?

    Cause, you're sorta claiming that above. ???

  • http://www.corbinsmith.ca Corbin Smith

    If you have serious concerns about any content in this story, please contact Torontoist's editors.
    If you are interested in my personal opinions on responsible ethics of representation, please feel free to contact me directly.

  • http://www.scotchblog.ca canuck1975

    Corbin,

    What was the state of the pool area when you'd left? Were all cigarette butts, bottles, cups and other refuse cleared out and removed or was that left for the lifeguards to take care of in the morning?

    Just curious.

  • http://www.corbinsmith.ca Corbin Smith

    I've been told that there is frequently some kind of mess for lifeguards to clean in the morning. I reckon that the Thursday night had more mess left behind dur to the police showing up and people hurriedly leaving.
    However, I feel that the large majority of people clean up their own mess, and there are frequently awesome people to take it upon themselves to pick up any stray cans. I'd say that most people leave with what they bring, save for cigarette butts.
    Asking a lifeguard there would get you a better answer though. I'm only guessing here.

  • college_dove

    Aw.. the sweet delight of entitlement. How cute. If this pool party were open to everybody the pool would have been… open.

  • college_dove

    @TheRealJohnson:disqus  - Wow.. I didn't think you could fit that much condescension in one paragraph, but I guess you can. 
    There's something wrong with you if you think a public pool is a great place for some leaky drunk to rub their sh*t-stained underwear up and down the slide.

  • torontothegreat

    What a very Ford-esque answer.

  • http://twitter.com/cyberdsignclan CDC

    YUCK.

  • http://twitter.com/TheReal_Hipster The Real Hipster

    how do you know they don't wipe properly? and why would they go up the slide?

  • http://piorkowski.ca qviri

    Beer makes people do funny things.

  • http://twitter.com/di0nysys Andrew Smith

    I agree, it is displeasing to know that other cultures have decided to thumb their noses at their white skinny friends.

  • http://openid.anonymity.com/5ysEHU3e Jacob

    “There is no flowing water to lubricate the water slide after hours. On this particular night, a couple of people solved this problem with a cup or two of dish soap and a bucket of water. Pro tip: the less clothing in contact with the slide, the faster you'll go.”

    Do you know that this breaks the health regulations for the pool? This article is pure ignorance in encouraging this image of harmless fun. 

    OH god, i just realized something: they turn off the pumps after they shutdown the pool for the night. what does this mean? when you are lounging in the lounge pool, the water isn't circulating, and hence not getting filtered. it's, after the first hour or so, like bathing in dirty bath water. nasty.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tgitf Thursday Friday

    Thanks a lot, douch-bags!! (Looking at you, Torontoist)

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com​/news/national/toronto/police-​on-alert-over-wave-of-pool-hop​ping/article2115068/

  • http://www.facebook.com/tgitf Thursday Friday

    This is so fucking gay

  • linnyqat
  • Anomynous

    I had some friends break into a public pool while I was in university.
    During one of these adventures, a friend had a diving accident and ended up paraplegic.
    Wheel chair for life.

  • Anomynous

    I had some friends break into a public pool while I was in university.
    During one of these adventures, a friend had a diving accident and ended up paraplegic.
    Wheel chair for life.