The Water's Fine at Longboard's, Galveston's Beachside Oasis
Photo by Angelica Leicht
"Oh no, you guys! I totally forgot my shoes!"
A pretty blond woman has just jumped straight into the pool, forgetting her shoes in the process. She's signaling and screeching, but her many friends are too busy doubling over with laughter to assist.
"Seriously! Come on! Someone grab these!"
We're watching with amusement, but aren't sure whether to help her or let the situation play out. We opt for the latter.
"Ugh. You guys are jerks," she laughs as she hurls her expensive heels at the deck. "Forget it. Get your own drinks."
We're only about five minutes into our excursion to Galveston's Longboard Pool Bar (1702 Seawall Blvd.), but are already stoked about the place. But we haven't quite taken the plunge.
"So, we just jump in then, right...?"
We look over at our very dry friend and pause, waiting for her go-ahead before jumping in. Learning a lesson about solidarity from the shoe-flailer, we're wary of jumping in solo.
"I mean, I guess. It appears to be the only way to get to the beer. So if you want beer...," our friend replies logically. And we do want beer.
"3, 2, 1...go!"
Determined to jump in together, we've made a pact, lest one of us end up like the last woman with the shoes.
If you want a drink at the Longboard, you'd better jump, or perhaps beg someone who's already in the water. After all, while swimsuits would make sense, the majority of patrons here are just fine with whatever they've got on.
When the Longboard launched in late May, the only social-media advertisement was an Instagram photo showing the bar, sheltered from the sun by some sweet tiki palapas, and one guy in a full-on suit chilling out in the middle of the pool. It's puzzling, and a bit amusing, to see grown folks swimming around while wearing street clothes, but that's what this newest addition to the Island Famous brand is all about.
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Island Famous, spearheaded by president Dennis Byrd, is already well-steeped in Galveston's bar culture. The group operates some of the island's most popular beachfront bars, including the five-in-one funplex at 3204 Seawall Blvd. that houses '50s-style burger joint The Spot alongside Tiki Bar, SideYard (where hammocks abound), Squeeze Ritas & Tequilas, and the notoriously rowdy RumShack.
About a mile down the road, the Longboard was just a swim-up bar at the Galveston Beach Hotel until just recently. But Island Famous has given it a shiny new facelift, including 9'6" double-longboard doors at the entrance. It's every bit as beachy and laid-back as a beachfront bar should be, but new amenities like poolside day beds and in-pool lounge chairs take things to another level.
And though the Longboard hasn't even been open a month, word seems to have already gotten around. Some of our new neighbors around the pool can hardly contain their excitement.
"Hey! Let's jump in! Seriously, guys. Come on. That's the point."
In about nine more months, a little elbow grease will transform the aging hotel around the Longboard into a 97-room DoubleTree by Hilton. What was once a modest local hotel will become a spiffy new resort, as the old beach-bar life picks up speed.
Tonight, folks are flocking through the Longboard's surfboard doors at a torrid pace. But even with the odd shoe mishap here and there, this crowd seems content with the Longboard's changes. Except perhaps for one man.
Treading water next to us, Adam is ordering a fruity drink complete with umbrella. He seems uncomfortable with our chosen pool attire.
"Aren't you worried about your clothes?", he asks.
We are not, although we are equally uncomfortable with his Speedo. However, we choose to laugh rather than shudder. The Longboard is an inclusive place, you see, and it seems wrong to judge his semi-nakedness considering we are happily swimming in shorts and sandals.
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