Blades of Glory: Berlin
Shave Your Style takes you street-side for a quick blitz on how to achieve the perfect beard in Berlin.
In Berlin, there’s only one area to head to where you can trust a stranger to hold a blade to your neck: Kreuzberg, or ‘Little Istanbul’ as the locals call it thanks to the mass immigration of Turkish workers in the 1950s.
Old-school black and white Photoautomats litter the sidewalk along with cigarette butts, parked fixies and the guy urinating outside the highly serviced electronic public toilet.
The bearded male can learn a lot from Turkish diaspora here; facial hair will be treated with care and consideration. But when it comes to an über haircut to boot, the clean and clinical Turkish approach may not be your bag.
Enter through the kebab joint, bypass the Turkish bakehouse on your left, and continue to the tiny glass fronted booth with enough room for two chairs, two barbers, and a smoking ashtray. Out front there’s a pile of chairs straight from a Neighbours office set and a peach leather massage chair, 2 € a pop – not one of them is empty. The men are queuing for their Saturday morning shave.
Inside, one of the barbers is sporting a long ponytail with a cigarette stuck to his bottom lip as he works quietly behind the ‘No Smoking’ sign. The aesthetic is casual, but these men mean business. They’re palming their patron’s face like a basketball. Play along, and always say yes to coffee. The clientele is your older, more conservative gent (one sporting tie-dye jeans), but word on the street is this is the best place to get shave this side of the Spree.
Before you can sip your coffee a lavender hand towel is thrust in your collar and the first lather begins. They go at you speedy flicks of a straight ‘cut-throat’ razor with restrained precision. This process is repeated to ensure maximum smoothness. Next, the barber applies the new fandangle apparatus that has replaced the ancient technique of threading to remove any stragglers.
A brief inspection reveals an ear flaming is in order, the nose hairs are deemed acceptable for now. The barber’s thick, nicotine-infused hands are not unwelcome for the final cold-cream rubdown. There’s safety in those hands and you quietly hope for an approving pinch on the cheek. But with a slap on the back and a collection of 6€, you’re out the door with cheeks so smooth your nose might slide off.
Take your dapper self over to Galerie Open for a slice of Germany’s contemporary art scene and enjoy your dinner at Cafe Obermaier (Erkelenzdamm 17) for a simple, delicate and unbeatable take on traditional German cuisine.
If you want to keep with the Turkish theme, but don’t want to queue, head to Keskin Makas. We’re talking no frills, cheap cuts and shaves, and we’re not talking English or German, but Turkish.
Anlıyor musun? No fear! The barbers are friendly and hand gestures can take you a long way. There’s also a giant image board out front if you’d care to make your style selection based on a cartoon. Or just mutter “barthaare zupfen”. It translates directly to ‘whisker plucking’ but I promise it won’t be that painful.
Their attempts to lift the place from a simple barber to salon are obvious and perhaps misguided, but this place has a casual, friendly family feel to it, the kind of place your mum would take you for your very first haircut. The couple of kids lingering in Adidas sweats eyeballing your treatment only add to its charm.
Tunnel Hair is cutting-edge, literally. Clean lines and modernist design, a hall of mirrors with jagged panels of reflections inviting the leafy green of neighbouring Lausitzer Platz into this tunnel of concrete. A little bit Eastern Bloc, a little bit Snoop Dog, the grey and the cool mingle nicely and become straight-up sleek.
Like champagne with your chop? Yes please. Now take a load off and prepare to become a piece of art. Super friendly stylist Dom explains, “In our salon we give really edgy cuts. We don’t sell products. It’s about cuts.”
Hand-picked by owner Viktor Leske, Tunnel’s stylists are gifted at sculpting the perfect style to match whatever kind of beard you’re working. Immaculately presented, these are the chaps (and lady) that you want cutting out the New You. I asked Dom how your average punter could keep his locks looking good. “Just keep it sharp. Get it trimmed every three to four weeks.”
There’s no questioning this is where this hip kids come for cuts, but there’s an innocence and accessibility about Tunnel that is completely endearing. A friend was three sips into his bubbly when he overheard one of the hipster stylists asking his hipster customer what he would like:
Hipster: “I don’t want to look too much like a hipster.”
Stylist: “What’s a hipster?”
Hipster: “Oh you know, those guys around Kreuzberg.”
Barber: “Oh yeah, them, I totally know what you mean.”
Cut. It. Out.
Cycle your new quiff over to Burgermeister to admire other like-minded hairstyles and beards and chow down on Berlin’s best burger and chilli fries before legging it over the Oberbaumbrücke Bridge to stroll the East Side Gallery.
Coiffeur Yavuz: Kottbusser Str 3, 10999 Berlin / Tel 030 614 99 82 / www.berber-yavuz.de
http://www.berber-yavuz.deKeskin Makas: Eisenbahnstraße 8, Berlin, Germany / 030 537 97 343
Tunnel Hair: Lausitzer Platz 1, 10997 Berlin / 030 60031562 / www.tunnel-berlin.com