Crystal Lake Beach Club in Oakland, NJ is most known for their after-hours concerts that perform on the beach. Reflections, a Grateful Dead cover band, hit the “stage” on June 24 with strobe lights constantly blinking on “Deadheads” dancing in the sand with arms raised and heads looking down. The sand squished between barefooted toes as bottle after bottle hit each other in the recycling bins.
The smell hits your nose before you even enter the gated area surrounding the lake. The only reason you know you’ve reached the right place is the fact that you can’t breathe in fresh air, it’s caked with the smell of alcohol and weed. The scent reached farther than you’d expect, down blocks and around corners to my friend and coworker, Nikki’s house up the street. The three of us – Joe, Nikki, and I who are all lifeguards at this lake – began to walk along the side of the street towards that fated smell we couldn’t escape.
There is no other way to describe the music except as psychedelic. It’s an experience to watch Reflections rock out at a beach. There are those dedicated fans that come and know all the lyrics and then people like me who go to be social. Inside the guard house, a man set up studio, hoping to sell some of his painted and most definitely funky records. Guests didn’t leave until the last song finally stopped and then we, guards, didn’t even leave until well past 1am.
We knew what would happen the next day: guards would clean up the beach, picking up used rolled joints, stepping on bottle caps carelessly thrown and buried into the sand, and taking out every single recycling can filled to the brim. Though we knew the consequences of the following, we still had a blast sticking our toes into the cold lake water though we’ve already closed, laying in the sand, attempting to take a decent picture, and watching all the drunken lake-goers we see every day partying like it’s their night to have fun without the kids. It’s a night you’d never want to forget and I certainly won’t; these memories will stay with me of the crazy friends I’ve gained from Crystal Lake Beach Club.