Regular readers will be aware that hair is of the utmost importance to me, and my Boulevardier persona. So it goes without saying that getting it cut and styled requires military precision, and intensive care.
Crouch End has an abundance of establishments to select from, but does that mean all of them are good. These luscious locks are not for the butchering tendencies of certain scissors, even if the salon they are contained within resembles an 18th century Parisian brothel!
What makes a good hairdressers? Can you tell from the appearance?
There are three traditional barber type affairs, only one of which has received my patronage, but more of that later.
Then there are lots of samey establishments (upwards of 10) offering slightly different deals to entice new and existing customers back. They all appear akin and have the funky dressed receptionists with multi coloured spiky hair, which presumably advertises the wonders to be created within the salon!
Then there are a couple which break the mould. One I have not been to called Pulp on Crouch End Hill. The interior is adorned with bold colour blocks, mixed with golden coloured ornate chandeliers and spread with velvet (not sure if there is any actual velvet, but it gives that impression, and if there isn’t, then there should be!) I would conclude and describe it as decadent goth!
Finally, and my mane tamer of choice is The Engine Room. A cool industrial styled relaxed salon pumping out the latest trip hop on Middle Lane. Additional attraction is that it’s only a skip from home.
Before moving to Crouch End in 2004 I scanned coiffeurs for suitability, sustainability and perfect match for a Boulevardier. For some odd and unremembered reason I went to Middle Lane Barbers. It must have been proximity rule, as closest to my new home to be. I remember asking for a trim as I was growing my hair longer at the time. They seemed only capable of one styling which was tantamount to shearing! I came out with MUCH shorter hair. Suffice to say I was so upset! These people wield too much power and can mess significantly with your emotion. I didn’t say anything at the time but have never spoken to them since. I walk passed almost every day, and on at least 50% of occasions they are hanging around outside and I look the other way! It’s rather difficult when they are talking to the tattooist next door as I often greet him. I have to be adept to greet him whilst ignoring the butchers. They are rather fortunate in my opinion to not be behind bars! Giving bad hair should be receive capital punishment sentencing!
Trust in Crouch End coiffurists was low and I nervously booked an appointment at The Engine Room. My first cut there was a little rocky, perhaps OK but not exactly what I wanted. However, I loved the place. The decor is industrialist 50s, with flashes of neon and colour. It’s overstatedly understated. The team were really friendly and cool, and I was drawn to an assistant called Jodie who exuded warmth and wit. She was clearly the life, soul and unofficial manager of The Engine Room. For this reason I went back in and explained the cut was not to my taste and explained ‘I didn’t want these short bits at the front! They don’t quiff up properly! I don’t know why the stylist cut them like that’. They were very supportive but started to glaze over as I explained how every single hair on my head should be styled! They carried on listening regardless, and I knew this was the place for me.
The next cut was fantastic and by an aging, cool guy called Greg! He had spent years working in all the top West End salons and now in his later years was spreading his cheer to the outer zones. I was sold when he told me that he was responsible for creating Betty Boos bob in the late 80s! Anyone mention a celeb and I am sold!
Greg and I had a beautiful hair relationship for a number of years, and went through stages of quiff, higher punk, and a beautiful mane which extended down the back of my head and was really quite long! I was a fearless lion with fabulous hair! Colours varied from blonde highlights to reddish lowlights, and spectacular white blonde in 2009 with dark brown scattered throughout and for the shorter sides and sides of the back. I knew the platinum blonde was a onetime affair however, as the condition was hideous! There were 3 bleachings to get the shade of white I wanted! I was SO worried it would fall out! It moved as one as soon as it was wet! Conditioner and treatments were needed daily!
Greg left to move further from urban life, and headed to Suffolk. Mark took over, and is still my current stylist. We have maintained a fantastic mane, moved through punk (was this a mid life crisis, i.e. back to punk!), and back to the trusty quiff. I often get shouts of ‘Elvis!’ on random occasion!
I went back to blue black for 3 years, and then decided to temper to dark brown. I am currently going ‘natural’, which is more grey than anything else! Apparently it looks distinguished and softer than the black.
Anyway, enough of my hair, you’ve heard it all before, and back to the Engine Room. The entire team work as a well oiled machine held together by Jodie, who despite departing to have a baby still echoes at the basins. Simon is the official owner and a pretty decent gent. He is less ostentatious than his team but parades an effortless mod chic around the salon. He is a real Crouch Ender and engages with the community.
Jodie and Greg may be gone but the heart of the Engine Room keeps beating and I am grateful to have found a gem amongst the many on offer. A sanctuary where I don’t need a sherry or valium before succumbing to their scissors!
I won a blow dry at a celebrity hairdressers in Chelsea which I will write about once its occurred! I rarely win anything and whilst a slightly odd prize I am grabbing it by both hands, but celebrity or not they are not getting their scissor happy selves near my award winning locks!