As a small boy I remember my dad taking me to the barber’s shop on Station Road in Prestatyn. I’ve not been to a gentleman’s barbers for years, In fact I’ve been having my haircut at Mojos in Blackburn then Wheelton since about 1997.
Today I changed that habit and entered Schorem on Niewe Binnenweg, Oude Westen, Rotterdam. I’d read about this place. I needed to see if it lived up to expectations. As I write my hair feels solid and I can still smell the manly pomade.
This is a men only establishment. As you enter you are taken back in time – two rows of vintage barber’s chairs, elaborate mirrors atop counters covered in potions and lotions. Rockabilly and bluegrass music provide the soundtrack to haircuts hear. This is a place of bottled beer for the customers, elaborate beards and moustaches, hair is shaped, quiffed, clipped and pomaded so that it wouldn’t move in a hurricane.
You don’t make an appointment. You turn up and wait your turn which gives you a chance to watch the white coated men at work. Everyone has tattooed arms, most a moustache and some beards that Darwin would have been proud of. They are precision engineers. It is not a quick process. I watched a young Italian student have his thick Latin hair clipped away leaving a solid wave of black on his crown. An older man have at least six inches cut off making him look smart, stylish and considerably younger. The barbers whealded clippers, razors, brushes, combs and scissors like musical instraments. They checked each detail, each sideburn, each hair like an artist finishing an important commission. This was theatre, the coats and tattoos costumes; the shop the set.
It was also about audience participation. My turn came. I was led to a chair and my barber shook my hand. He asked me what I wanted and told me not to worry – he knew what I needed. I sat facing the shop, not the mirror. I just had to sit back and let him do his thing. There was no chit chat – no questions about holidays or films I’d seen recently. I continued as a spectator watching the other barbers at their work. I’ve always found haircuts relaxing. A chance to sit and be done to. You hand over control. It doesn’t hurt. I’ve no idea how long my hair cut took. I heard the swish-swish-swish of the scissors, the buzz of the clippers the shhh of the manly scented spray he used to dampen things down. Then he pushed a pedal and swung be round for the reveal in the mirror. It all looked fine if a bit fluffy. He then applied what felt like half a jar of water based pomade, massaged it into my hair making a child’s bath time pineapples and horns. It was then all swept back as far as it would go. He put talc onto a brush and swept me up. He then put stinging aftershave on my neck, sideburns and ears. I was done.
There are no options here, no extras for colour, curling, washing, blow drying. It’s a fixed price. €33 for a haircut, (about £25) €33 for a shave or €61 for both. The bottle of beer is included. I paid and left.
The verdict. My hair looks a bit severe and I’m not convinced I’ll wear it like this very often. The pomade will wash out and I’ll no doubt go back to a softer look with less exposed forehead.It was an experience. I’d happily go again. I might save up my stubble for a cut throat shave next time.