Pines power

Wanna dip your toe into the Fire Island scene? Then learn the drill, newbie.

CROWD SURFING Dive into the fun

CROWD SURFING Dive into the fun

The Fire Island Pines are not for the faint of heart. The sun is strong, the cruising competition fierce and the daily schedule relentless. Miss a beat, and you may as well catch the next ferry back to Sayville.

But don't be discouraged. Getting a hang of the strict routine is a cinch. Plus, this weekend offers a new party event—Ascension, benefiting the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force—that makes now the perfect time to get in on the action before Labor Day. Just pocket our handy primer to be the belle of the balls.

Saturday

10:30am--noon

Grab a towel, sunblock and a housemate (anyone will do; what's important is access to their house): Saturdays start poolside, period. 

Noon--3pm

Prime tanning hours bring big decisions: Stay by the pool, or move to the sand? Follow your posse, or bake alone? Whatever you choose, prepare for your actions to be judged. "People lay out together, which bugs me," says Pines regular and solo sun worshiper Matt Vigio. "They travel in packs. It's like Heathers."

3--5pm

While at the beach, whore it up and get yourself invited to a private house soiree, stat, because "cocktails start at three," according to sharehouse dweller Dante Mastri. And being in the right place at the right time is key. "This is basically gay boot camp," says Mastri. Or high school.

5--6pm

Prep for teas—which, for the uninitiated, are late-afternoon dance parties. Daytrippers (poor souls), take note: To clean up and change, either cozy up to a homeowner, or slip discreetly into the powder room of the Blue Whale eatery. Owner Eric Von Kuersteiner will likely turn a blind eye, provided you're not conspicuous—or messy. "Love daytrippers," he says.

6--8pm

Expose your pecs and hit Low Tea at the Blue Whale. But don't settle in...

8--10pm

"High Tea is the new Low Tea," says DJ Lina. Translation: This later version—still early in these parts—rules. So hit Lina's Lounge at the Pavilion. It all ends at 10pm sharp.

10pm

Time to dash home for a dinner party. Daytrippers, you have two choices: Latch onto someone with extra space in his bed—er, house—or wait for the final ferry, which leaves in an hour.

11:30pm

Finish off your shrimp kebabs and head to the packed pop-tune party Sip & Twirl—a.k.a. "Trip & Fall." Added midnight bonus: Ascension's Rise Up! dance event.

Sunday

Noon

Wash up, rinse, repeat. Ascension's main-event Beach Party sweetens the deal. Don't forget to call in sick.

Ascension starts Fri 18. Also seee ascensionparty.com.