From tree houses to caves, I found myself partying at a lot of interesting places while I was in Central America. However, the ridonculous Saturday night rave at an abandoned swimming pool just outside Antigua was the one where actual fun accompanied the sense of novelty and wonder.
I arrived in Antigua on a Saturday, hearing quite a bit about this pool party. Exhausted from traveling from Costa Rica all the way to Guatemala over the course of two days, I instead told myself that a pool party couldn’t be all that special and decided to isolate myself for like two days and recover. I went to Guatemala to trek, anyway, and wanted to make sure I got my three volcanoes out of the way before going all out. Ha, optimistic at best.
Anyway, when I heard pool party, I thought it was like an actual pool party. Like the kind you’d have at your rich friend’s house back in high school, floaties and dunkball and everything. Having put myself through a belligerent Sunday Funday not even two weeks before, I decided that this pool party was worth missing. My homie @TheBroAbroad even told me that on Saturdays in Antigua, La Piscina was the place to be. Again, I just assumed it was some overrated party taking place in a pool. Literally, if I had just asked anyone about it, I would have found out what it actually was and probably would have forced myself to go on that first Saturday.
So what exactly is the pool party in Antigua? In short, it is a crazy rave that takes place in an abandoned swimming pool and the surrounding area just outside of Antigua. The pool itself is basically the entire dance floor. It is about a twenty minute cab ride from Antigua, specifically from the Lucky Rabbit bar that you probably will be starting the night off at. The Lucky Rabbit closes at 1 AM, as do most of the bars in Antigua, so give yourself a pep talk around this time and convince yourself that you are going to survive the next six or seven hours.
So yeah, an outdoor Guatemalan rave in an empty swimming pool. Sound sketchy? It’s not. I was surprised at how legitimate the entire event was. You have bouncers, a legitimate DJ bumping electronic music until well past sunrise, and a fully-stocked bar that actually accepts credit cards. The set up is completely legit, with lights, booming speakers, and a roof covering the pool and bar area. There are even local Guatemalans that have set up food carts to serve you tortas and tacos all night long.
Make sure you bring enough money to get there, to get in (40 quetzales was cover when I went), get enough drinks, buy drunk food, and get home. I was down to 40 quetzals after cover and a torta, but thankfully there was a sketchy middle-aged drug dealer who let me exchange some American dollars for quetzals. Shoutout to you, sketchy middle-aged drug dealer.
There were quite a few of them, actually. Despite it being a pretty legitimate party, the whole setting is pretty lax. Being out of the city with no police presence basically means that a lot of people are going to be on drugs, whether it’s ecstasy, cocaine, or some other shit. It is a rave, after all.
It lasts well into the morning, and I think the crowd started thinning out at around 5-6 AM. A lot of stragglers stay well past that, and my friends I stuck around until around 7:30. The sun had risen, and I had to hike the brutal Acatenango Volcano starting at 9 AM.
Despite literally everyone telling me that I was stupid for going to the pool party and doing Acatenango on no sleep, I survived the trek and that’s all that matters. I don’t recommend doing it, but if your back is against the ropes and you are forced to choose between an epic party and a one of a kind trek filled with volcanic eruptions, do both.
Sunday was the last possible day I could do the two day Acatenango trek before flying out of Guatemala, and the pool party only happens on Saturdays. Plan accordingly.
I had an incredible time in Antigua, and think that out of all of the cities I had been to in Central America, it had one of the best mixes of fun and adventure. It was one of the few places that I felt that I could stay for months in without getting bored.