Let me begin by stating that the Montclair Beach Club is neither a beach nor in Montclair. It's located in neighboring Clifton, NJ, and while there is no beach there are 3-4 swimming pools, depending on how you count the babies pools. There is also a playground, snack bar, tennis courts, ping pong/game room, and shuffle board.
So it's a country club right? I know all about those upper class, discriminatory bastions of Republicanism.... whoa, whoa, whoa... slow down there sparky... this is a beach club, not a country club (even though I already explained that there is no beach).
What's the difference? Well, if you'd relax I'd explain it to you... jeez.
A country club is like Augusta or Wakonda or Rolling Oaks or something like that with a golf course and dining rooms that serve brunch (I hate brunch. I mean seriously, what's the point? Just have lunch already and get over it). A beach club is 10 times better than a country club because it is none of that. (Full disclosure: I've pretty much either belonged to or frequented country clubs for my entire life so this part of the post was pretty much bullshit faux-populism from the start, but who's counting?)
The first reason that the Montclair Beach Club is awesome is that you can bring your own food. This may seem weird and counterintuitive since they have a snack bar, but it's a huge win. People bring freakin' gas grills and leave them at the beach club all summer and grill out every weekend. Families are ordering pizzas and going in on ginormous subs together. It's really game changing to the whole communal-pool concept.
Plus, it's BYOB! You heard that right. You can bring coolers full of the High Life, bottles of wine, the hard stuff, Four Loko alcoholic energy drinks, or whatever floats your boat. The first weekend I was there I saw a guy rolling in with a full bar, but I think that was for a cabana.
Wait, a cabana? What's that?
Oh, I didn't mention that? I should have. Along one side of the pool right next to the spot by the diving boards that my friend PW calls "Heaven's Waiting Room" is a row of cabana-like structures that are really just big wooden sheds or lockers. This is prime real estate at the beach club and spots are passed down from generation to generation. They are basically like your own personal family pool houses and I have to come to grips with the fact that I will never have enough juice to possess one.
The other primo spots are the umbrella tables on the far side of the pool from the cabanas. These are so coveted that people line up an hour before the doors open every Saturday and Sunday morning in order to stake their claim.
Here are a couple other reasons why the Montclair Beach Club is sweet:
There are a ton of kids and families -- this pretty much seals it. We go there and Harry just bolts for the diving boards and, while his swimming skills are something that I like to call "controlled drowning," I really don't have to worry because of all the other parents hanging around... although they might all be a little drunk.
They have a gigantic mushroom-shaped fountain -- again, this is huge win. Harry, when not jumping off the diving board and almost drowning, lives under this thing in the middle pool. I must warn you that they do shut the fountain down at 4:30 every day for some reason.
So that's about it... one more reason for you to just chuck everything and move to Montclair: a high-quality swim club experience.