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Photo courtesy Aaron C

Pool parties in Palm Springs: The desert’s best poolside bashes

Make a splash at one of Time Out’s picks for the best pool parties in Palm Springs

By Erika Stalder

It doesn’t get hotter than Palm Springs in the summer. Here, area pool parties are an essential luxury for weekenders and locals looking to cut loose and cool down while lounging (or dancing) by the pool, music in ear and cocktail in hand. Take your pick from communal confabs where you provide the music yourself to classic ragers where partiers literally go diving for beer. Whatever your preferred poolside vibe, there's a soiree for you in our list of the best summer pool parties in Palm Springs.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Palm Springs

Stronghold presents Reggae Sol

Things to do

LA’s Crown Mission Sound crew returns to the Ace for the fourth year with Reggae Sol, bringing its trademark afternoon of old school hip hop, neo soul and—of course—relaxing reggae to this patio-dotted property perfectly designed for outdoor lounging. Laid-back crowds carry easy-does-it attitude along with pitchers of white sangria and hit the healing waters of the Ace’s saltwater pools for an extra hit of positive ions. Those who want to get baked the old fashioned way make good use of all-day access to the hot tub, gym, sauna and steam room included in the event’s cover charge. This year, the party series will include a bonus fete—July 9th, guest DJs Jester (of Tribe of Kings Sound System, from San Diego) and Meessinja (of Culture 45, from San Fran) help celebrate one love for the crew’s four year anniversary at the property’s Amigo Room.


Things to do

Kids from Orange County, Riverside, San Bernadino and beyond flock to this raging pool party of 1,500 to test their fate with blackjack, beer pong, the midnight cannonball and a bikini contest while resident DJ Aaron C plays pop and hip hop-based dance tracks from his booth bathed in colorful club lights. But before you write off this Casino scene as a Jersey Shore-type meat market, know this: One of the winners in last year’s bikini contest took a prize by working the stage in board shorts and a tank top. In other words, at this party, (which is in its fourth consecutive year) it’s more about having fun and how you shake it, and less about leading with a hot bod. (Which isn’t to say that some partygoers dress down to nearly nothing—last year, a memorable group of guys were spotted donning tuxedo speedos.) An onsite photo booth documents the debauchery with insta-updates on Facebook.


Dive-in Movies

Things to do

The ‘30s and ‘40s may be Hollywood’s golden era, but mid-century belongs to Palm Springs. Lean back on a chaise lounge and take in camp classics from the ‘50s and ‘60s such as Pillow Talk, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Viva Las Vegas at Dive-in Movies. The parties kick off with a screening of Palm Springs Weekend, wherein a group of LA co-eds on spring break storm the desert to party in a hotel that looks an awful lot like The Saguaro. What better way to see this oft forgotten film than at dusk in the warm desert air, with a margarita in hand and the San Jacinto mountains as a backdrop?

World Famous

Things to do

Technically, World Famous is a pool party. But it happens to feel an awful lot like the summer camp you wish you could go to—the one where Amy Sedaris and Rick Ruben are camp counselors and you earn badges and props for busting a move or handing out custom party favors. Coachella native DJ Alf Alpha selects multi-lingual tracks from all over the world (including cumbia, booty bass, soul and moombahton) for his loyal following of booty shakers. Meanwhile, poolside, Coachella Valley Art Scene founder Sarah Schiedman helps guests contend with pipe cleaners and pincushions, glue guns and glitter (and dozens of other supplies) at a free craft table. Whip up a pocket square from vintage fabric at Schiedman’s table for your dapper friend on the dancefloor or wander across the property’s five acres of grounds with a new crush for a secret fireside make out session. No matter what your scene, this summer party will make you feel like a kid again.


Hot as Hell

Things to do

The Riviera shakes up the pool party scene by ditching the DJs for live bands instead. Musicians kick out rock, blues and R&B at this new party for locals looking for a little after-work relaxation. Expect an intimate crowd of 150, decked out in resortwear, looking to rub shoulders and sink into a gentle groove. While bottle service ($150 and up) and cabana space can be purchased, charitable cocktailers should look to the menu of weekly-changing specialty drinks, for which a portion of the sales benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Palm Springs.

Full Moon Party

Things to do

From Ko Pha Ngan to Santa Cruz, full moon parties have become a global institution among nightlife revelers. For its third year running, the Ace moves the concept from the beach to the pool and amplifies the drum circle component by scrapping DJ sets altogether. For three hours, partygoers are encouraged to beat drums, which, along with flutes and didgeridoos, provide a soundtrack for belly dancers to do their thing. Outside the circle, tarot card readers and fortune tellers give donation-based readings, while massage therapists provide $12 mini treatments, including chair and watsu massage, reflexology and cranial work. Estheticians are also on hand to dole out free face masks to this all ages crowd, who often roam the party with their mugs slathered in the detoxifying concoction.



Theater Drama

For those who can’t wait for summer’s official start (or won't accept when it's over), there’s Plunge at La Quinta, a year-round party that runs throughout the weekend and is free to hotel guests. But you've got to grab a room to get in on the action—this party is open (and free) to hotel guests only. Resident DJs Xile and Patrock serve a steady flow of top 40, ‘80s, Latin and reggae for a crowd of 400 bikini'ed and bronzed sunseekers. Though the crowd dresses with sexy intent, it isn’t afraid to get down and dirty with games like beer pong, flip cup, corn-hole—or the party’s signature event, beer plunge, in which the crowd simultaneously dives for 100 or more PBRs thrown into the pool. Those looking for a less competitive way to imbibe can opt for bottle service, a new offering in the party’s third year.

Swim Social

Things to do

If the bright desert sun doesn’t get you in the mood to play poolside, booking a room at the Saguaro, with its glowing fourteen-color exterior, certainly will. From the yellow, hot pink and orange patio furniture to the brightly colored rooms that hug the pool area, everything about this hotel party’s environs signal lighthearted fun. Warm up your own hue by sunning on a chaise lounge, daybed or poolside cushion, or cozy up to the sound system for electronic jams both current and classic, spun by a rotating roster of local DJs. Just don’t come fully-clothed ready to pose—among this crowd, you can’t rock a swimsuit too small or a smile too big.

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Photograph: Courtesy Avalon Palm Springs

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