Barber Boutique: Therapy for men

The Barbershop is the place men go for therapy. When I say therapy I don’t mean the traditional notion of therapy, its something much more subtle.

My barbershop called Barbers Boutique understand this very well. They aim to provide a place where men can be pampered in a way which is acceptable to the most alpha of males. Before I went to the crazy year of making love event on Saturday morning, I had my hair cut, a nail manicure and a neck & shoulder massage. Why? Because it was great to be treated like a king for a little while.

I actually added a review to Qype too.

The barbershop is a great place which is often overlooked in modern times.

It’s a great place to chew the fat with other men. When I went to hair stylists, I hardly ever talked to the woman who cut my hair. I’d chat about my family and theirs and that’s about it. The woman who cut my hair usually ended up chatting it with the other women in the salon, while I sat there awkwardly.

Barbers, on the other hand, are interesting guys with interesting stories to tell. On my visits to the barber shop, I’ve met a retried Army Ranger colonel, a musician who spent 13 years on the road in a jazz band, and a man who is the third generation in his family to take up the profession. Each of them had fascinating stories to share. And I in turn feel at ease to say what’s on my mind. There is conversation about politics, cars, sports, and family. Guys read the newspaper and comment on current events. In between the banter, jokes are told and laughs are had. And everyone is involved: the barbers, the customers getting their haircut, and the customers waiting to get their haircut. Adding to the enjoyment is that a variety of men take part in the conversation; young, old, and middle-aged join in the mix.

I think there’s a good argument that barbershops are among America’s last civic forums Where do people go today just to talk with others in the community? Coffee shops? Every time I go to a coffee shop, people are at their own tables minding their own business. The only other place that I can think of is a bar, but bars are now co-ed instead of being bastions of manliness. Graduate student, Melissa Harris-Lacewell, wrote an article about how discussions in traditionally black barbershops shape political ideas in the African-American community. She noted how political debate in barbershops can be vigorous and engages young and old alike. Unfortunately, white Americans are missing out on this experience. So, if you’re wanting to get your thumb on the pulse of civic life in your community, head over to the barbershop.

This very true for barbershops in the UK too. Theres no doubt about the conversations I’ve over heard in the barbershop are just great. I remember the first time I got involved in a discussion in Kellys of Bristol.

I was young and the discussion turned to computers. This is way back in the early 90’s when computers were still somewhat rare in most peoples lives. I had a PocketPC device and although I can’t remember the exact line of questioning or viewpoints I remember it was quite a lively debate.

Everyone my generation must remember Channel4’s Desmonds a classic barbershop and although it played up to stereotypes a bit, showed how vibrant the Barbershop can be. 10 years later, Barbershop once again tried to put across the unique nature of a barbershop for the world to see. Different characters rubbing shoulders, doing deals and push/urge/troll each other on. There is not doubt this is a man’s place for therapy… No matter how dysfunctional you may think this sounds… It might have something to do with Social proof, or the eyes of peers  but I always feel better about myself after a good haircut.

Its also worth noting the people who setup the barbershops tend to be very entrepreneurial in nature, hence why its great to hear the future plans for Barbers Boutique.

I look forward to the new Barbers Boutique… Although goodness knows how hard its going to be to get an appointment in the future…! Will it be the return of getting up at 8:30am in the morning to get first in the chair ahead of the rest? (Haven’t done this since I was a child being taken to the Beedo’s Barbershop in St Pauls, Bristol)

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.