As proof of the American author and social commentator Fran Lebowitz’s dictum that “you’re only as good as your last haircut”, authentic-looking barbershops have sprung up all over Kyiv in recent years emerging from the conformism of post-Soviet buzz-cuts to offer a point of difference for men. Complete with traditional barber poles, vintage lighting fixtures, antique-looking barber chairs, and, a complimentary drink or two
Barbershops in Kyiv offer good solid haircuts and shaves for urbane men to tame their unruly locks and look neater and sharper from the neck up. What’s On takes the full treatment and learns the art of barbering has evolved away from a barbaric history to focus only on follicles.
Taking a Seat
So, there came the day, when I said to myself “enough” and went to my friend’s barbershop to get some professional tuning of my beard and hair rather than haphazard home attempts. I don’t know about you, but I have always suspected that the role of a barber is underrated. We already know of the significant role of bartenders as the best listeners for both men and women, but what about the barber? In a bar, the best seats – bar stands – are commonly occupied. Why? Too many people have no one to talk to about their issues. Perhaps women visit manicurists to talk, what about men? Cue the barber.
You are a captive audience for a minimum of an hour with nothing else to do. You can’t use your phone to Facebook or make calls. You simply sit and that’s it. My curiosity piqued, I sat in the chair, we started talking, and I asked about the differences and/or similarity between bartenders and barbers. The answer was clear and decisive: “People go to bartenders when engrossed in a problem, whereas, they come to talk with barbers when they are done with a problem! We all know a fresh haircut is often a symbol of a new or fresh start!”
My barber tells me he sees himself as a mediator, as he has become acquainted with many people while they were sitting in the barber’s chair. “One time,” he continues, “two gentlemen were seated in barber chairs next to each other and they were talking about what they do. Turns out, one was a car salesman and the other a car supplier. The next time one of them came for a haircut, he relayed how they now successfully work together.” Our conversation is quietly interrupted by the administrator, who brings a latte, which I had ordered upon entry.
Barber versus Barbaric
My barber lets me take a few sips before continuing with the business of trimming my beard and educating me on the history of his craft. Did you know that the word “barber” comes from the Latin word “barba”, meaning beard? It may surprise you to know that the earliest records of barbers show they were the foremost men of their tribe. They were the medicine men and the priests. He went on to say that starting from the Middle Ages, barbers often served as surgeons and dentists. In addition to haircuts, hairdressing, and shaving, barbers performed surgery, bloodletting and leeching, fire cupping, enemas, and the extraction of teeth; earning them the name “barber surgeons”. This was the moment I gained a greater appreciation for the time I live in. Though having all these services in a one-stop-shop might not be a bad idea, adding dentistry and surgery to the mix makes me squeamish.
That aside, I think your barber could make a good confidante. After one-and-a-half hours of well spent time and getting to a point where I was loving what I saw in the mirror, I went on my way, watching first my barber help another client into his chair.
What I call a good barbershop is what I see in the biggest chain in Kyiv – Lumberjack Barberhouse. It has all a man needs: free coffee, good ol’ Jack (on the house), as well as well selected music and a “confidante” who is always happy to see you and takes pride in making you look your best – the barber.