MAKING A SPLASH

Dive into Houston's highly anticipated pool bar, now open near downtown

A look at El Segundo's pool and cabanas. Courtesy of gin design group

The artlicle originally appeared on CultureMap.

When Houston's weather turns from regular "hot" to full on "blast furnace," finding a pool to cool off can be about the only way anyone can maintain their sanity. While they're easy to find in the suburbs, apartment dwellers in the city's urban core start contemplating extreme measures in the quest for relief — for example, booking an expensive spa treatment at the Marriott Marquis just to float the Texas-shaped lazy river.

A newly opened bar wants to change that. The El Segundo Swim Club is the pool bar that's ready to offer Houstonians a place to relax and cool off. Located in the Second Ward near the corner of Navigation and Lockwood, the property features a 1,300-square foot swimming pool as well as cabanas and lounge chairs — everything a person needs for a little fun in the sun. A high fence around the bar ensures that patrons aren't subject to prying eyes from passersby. 

Owner Matthew Healey originally built the pool as a place for him and his friends to hang out, but he saw the potential for others to enjoy it. To realize his vision, he turned to local designer Gin Braverman of gin design group, the acclaimed local design firm behind a number of bars and restaurants including Axelrad, Public Services Wine & Whisky, and Goode Company Kitchen & Cantina. Braverman's design takes its inspiration from the work of Roberto Burle Marx, a Brazilian landscape artist known for his innovative public spaces; the project seeks to channel a little of a Rio in the '70s vibe.

“We want to create something fun and unpretentious,” Healey said when he announced the project in February. “We’re creating a little oasis just off the beaten path. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

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Photo by Jacob Power

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

My dog, Sally, is never going to a public dog park again. I've always had my concerns about dog parks, like aggressive dogs, potential bacteria and disease, and unsupervised activity.

But, I thought, I've heard good things about Officer Lucy Dog Park in Bellaire. Let's see if Sally has fun there. I adopted Sally last New Year's Eve. She's grown into the sweetest, gentlest, most adorable dog I've ever owned.

She's also grown into one of the biggest dogs I've ever owned. It didn't say that on the card on her cage at the shelter.
Here's what happened: I brought Sally to the dog park around 8 am last Thursday. There was a guy in there with three dogs. I asked him, "Are your dogs safe?" He said, "Yeah."As we walked along the fence toward the entrance, I noticed one of his dogs defecating. The guy made no effort to pick it up. I told him, "Hey…"

He said, "I got it, worry about your own dog." He looked annoyed that I called him out about his dog pooping.

Attack at the park

That was a bad sign and I should have turned around right there. The moment we entered the gate, his three dogs attacked Sally. It happened in an instant and it was a frightening, horrible scene. They had Sally pinned down. They were snarling and one was going after her neck. Sally was screaming, a sound I had never heard her make.

This was for real. It wasn't playing, dogs sniffing each other out. These dogs were hurting my amazing dog. I'll never forget the awful sound of growling and barking and crying.

Ken to the rescue

I jumped in the middle and kicked the dog going for Sally's neck as hard as I could. I yelled "Get off!" and "Do something" to the other dog's owner. He just stood there.

I grabbed Sally and slammed the gate behind. The other dogs were hurling themselves at the fence, still trying to get at Sally. The moment we were safe, here's my admission, I went into a rage hollering at the other dogs' owner. He never said sorry, just that, "...two of my dogs are in heat."

That took a terrible situation to 11. I unleashed a torrent of profanity. The guy didn't back off. He told me to F-off, and how about this, "I was here first. If you don't like it, don't bring your dog in here."

That made me 1,000 times angrier. There is a list of rules on the gate at Officer Lucy Dog Park. No vicious dogs, no dogs in heat, on and on. The problem — and this was my original concern about public dog parks — you can have all the rules you want, but if you don't enforce the rules, you have no rules.

I was furious. You never know how you're going to react in a situation, but if his dogs had killed Sally, I would have spent last Thursday night in jail. People dump on me all day long — get in line — but it you can't hurt my dog.

Continue on CultureMap to read what happened when Ken Hoffman called the police.


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