It was time – you know that time, when you have gone past a haircut being a good idea to being a necessity...i took a walk across town to see if the hairdresser that I used last year was still in residence.
Yes, they were and overwhelmingly ecstatic to see me!!!! Not much passing traffic I am assuming or they all sniff the colour solutions after dark. They could fit me in as last appointment of the day at 830pm.
Danny is Italian and comes from Turin in the mountains in the North of Italy and has fetched up on the shores of Ibiza and seems to fit in quite well. For an Italian he is always dressed very casually in large t-shirts that hang on his tiny frame and gape around the neck so he needs to adjust it every now and then. The owner of the establishment is a Spanish lass who has a 20cm halo of dark frizzy hair that sits perfectly, framing her extra slim face. As I walk into the shop they all call out – reminding me of the sushi place up on the highway at home – where as you come through the door it seems a race to see who can say hello the fastest and loudest. All the chairs are full of clients and the basin recliners as well, people occupying the two chaise lounges and the overstuffed school chairs and others just hanging around in the space behind the crew cutting hair. The ever present music at a notch just under too loud, an eclectic mix of Bob Marlyesque tunes, R&B jazz and B side rock. If someone is not feeling the vibe – the music stops in mid thought and the place is overwhelmed by silence until the next track starts.
The shop isn’t large – it sits on the corner of the street looking out onto a derelict looking but busy carpark backed by 2-3m high dry grass. The entry door is tucked into the point of the square of space which appears to have been cut off only to allow room for the doors and nothing more. At a good amble, you have started and finished in two paces the entire shopfront on either side of the doors. Those two-amble steps of glass frontage are filled with sun bleached head shot photos of designer haircuts that come straight out of hairdressing magazines or perfect renditions of most of the male haircuts you see here in Ibiza and most of Spain at present. Not a clean shaven head shot among them, all are sporting styled and combed facial hair and hairstyles of clean and straight parts and shiny dark and sleek fringes and comb overs reminiscent of 60’s styles. Two of the guys getting their hair done looked like they had stayed too long but apparently a #2 cut still takes time to comb, part and cut properly... As they paid up and left, they were showing admiration by running their hands over their heads and slapping shoulders, hugging all and sundry and thanking with effusive gusto.
Danny was still ten minutes from finishing his current client so after walking through the door and accepting and reciprocating the hugging and kissing of all staff (and half the clientele as well me thinks) and refusing 6 separate offers of tea, water or juice; the manager said that she would wash my hair for me; while I waited for him to finish up.
As I had been walking to my appointment, the skies had been grumbling and threatening and finally opened and the great flood in rain had started to beat down, scattering tourists and the students smoking out the front of the school in town. I managed to make the next two blocks by skirting the overhangs and finding awnings that semi protected me from the tom bowler sized rain drops crashing into me from above. I made the two-pace amble past the glass frontage alot faster and made an entrance worthy of the commotion that followed, so when I got led to the basins for my wash, the manager found me a satin robe to dry me off and make sure I was comfortable for my hair experience.
My hair was washed and whispered to over the course of about 20 minutes – I had my skull and all the tiny stressed muscles around my eye sockets massaged, down the bridge of my nose to the side of my nostrils, back up across the eye brow ridge to behind my ears. My ear lobes where treated to much fondling and squeezing, back across my cheek bones and it all started again and down the back of my neck to my shoulders – I nearly forgot what I was there for when I had the towel wrapped and tucked and wrapped and tucked so I ended up looking like an advert for a hairdressing chair from the 60’s! Another refusal of 3 different offers of tea or water and I watched the show of the two fellows with the number two and the people sitting in the lounges attempt to leave.
While all this was happening, the rain had continued to fall and fall and fall. The water in the street had continued to rise and rise and rise. At one stage the manager had headed out behind the sinks to come back with a piece of plywood the exact side of the lower door sill.... a few of the people inside had opened the door a few times to look at the water rushing down the street creeping higher up the curbs and wheel arches of the parked cars. A couple of semaphore arm gesticulations to the bar across on the adjacent corner accompanied by a few choice yells before they resorted to calling on their mobiles.
The piece of plywood wasn’t used too quickly as everyone but myself took turns in getting up and having a look at the water rushing past on the pavement and discussing (I assume as it was in Spanish) that it was a lot of water and yes, a lot of rain and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere fast. Eventually, after the 7th or so car to come out of the car park and send a small shore break wave curling up the footpath towards the opening, they gave in and shut the doors and put the timber across, leaving two of the crew outside. (Every now and these two would crowd up against the door away from a breaking wave and talk through the crack in the door frame.)
A flurry of people inside the shop were gathering up towels and discussing the best way to fold them and tuck them into the door frame and another two cars passed by sending cascading waves before all was set up, government department called again (gods rain department??) to complain about the rain and the street waves. By then another lot of customers were ready to depart, so the whole thing was dismantled and the discussions begun as to the best egress around the corner to higher ground.
Danny was now ready to commence the cutting of my hair and discuss what he had been doing since I saw him in September last year. He was just back from Iran – Danny is Vegetarian (almost) and he said that food was a little difficult for him over there but the people were lovely and gentle etc. He had also had to do a hair show in Milan, so he had taken his flatmate home to Turin to show her the area. While all this is going on – he has managed to comb and re-comb my hair to within 2 spits of its life, sprayed me with his water can to get the helmet look really going and I swear that no self respecting piece of hair would have moved out of its comb tooth row even in a stiff breeze! This comb technique was so specific, I could have cut a block of waffle batter into ice-cream wafers without moving a muscle.
It is a real pleasure (intriguing may be a better word) to watch his precision comb technique – because it takes possibly a third of the whole haircut time to do his patchwork comb divisions. As each section is comb cut into sections, stray hairs are brought back to the fold again and again until they stay in their allotted patch and not one filament wavers across the line.
The base layer cut is commenced and the buzz of concentration is like an aura around him. I settle back to watch the waters recede outside the doors and the people across the street manage to bring over a few plates of cheese, which means that this was what the commotion of yelling during the rain was – that the order had to be put on hold; or that we had just survived the flooding and it was time to celebrate....
After much cutting, snipping, shaping, pulling, parting, re-combing, more snipping and combing and cutting; and Danny was ready to shake it all out and dry it off. This technique manages to get all the bits off your shoulders and tucks them nicely into the cracks between your toes if you aren’t fast enough to tuck them under the foot plate of the old style barber chairs you are sitting in.
Then the real hair cut begins.... his strategy he told me before he started, was for a 2cm trim... I was holding my comments until the end but I must say, this was the first time in 20 years that I truly only got a trim when I asked for it. It took up a truly entertaining hour of my day and only cost 40 bucks.
As I got up to leave, they all crowded around for the 17 kisses and hugs all round, with calls of see you next summer ringing in my ears I walked out into a cleansed street and sky...Ibiza the White Isle is truly a special place.