I’ve been telling foreigners that the real thing to purchase during a visit, the ultimate souvenir, is the Icelandic haircut, the North Atlantic hipster do. The fact is that Icelanders take their hair very seriously. A large percentage of the population insists on regular fashionable haircuts. Among the more than thirty premiere studios in 101 Reykjavík, none have a better reputation than Rauðhetta og Úlfurinn, the independent studio that serves most of the rock n rollers and good selling artists.
I made the four block trip to Rauðhetta recently to find out what goes into the perfect haircut. The answer, there doesn’t seem to be much a rule. My stylist, a part owner of the studio who goes by the nickname Grjóni, shrugged his shoulders when I asked if there was a hard and fast rule.
“Just look at the person and at their head and style.”
And here we had a slight problem. I walked into the hippest studio in a hip city wearing standard-issue Brooklyn-commuter English teacher duds. Deep down, did I have the style that might make for a good haircut?
Lord knows. But I know this, after five minutes looking my hair over and talking to me, and after a shampoo and rinse, Grjóni had a plan. He explained it. Then he got the scissors ready. Then he stopped. “It’s okay to cut? Just want to double check.”
One thought occurred to me as he began chopping away: Most artists and musicians I know are neurotic nut-jobs.
So this is how a studio serves neurotic nut-jobs. They do things like talk about what they’re going to do. They ask a lot of questions. And they don’t do anything that will make you nervous.
Overall, a haircut at the incredibly hip studio took about an hour. During this time, I could have learned about all the gossip of friends, neighbours and famous people. (I wouldn’t rate this too highly, I was told that the staff of Grapevine, which I think includes me, hang out at a bar that I’d never heard of before.)
While getting my pompadour, I might have also simply stared at the excessively attractive young women filling the room for haircuts. Instead, I asked Grjóni about his career path, about fishing summers to put away the money for the hair studio.
By the end of it all, I had a head of hair that looked better than it had any right to, and I had a firm understanding that Grjóndi and his fellow stylists at Rauðhetta could probably handle any clientele that walked through their door.
On my way out the door, I suggested that the Icelandic haircut might be the strongest local folk art. It got me a 600 ISK discount.
Rauðhetta og Úlfurinn, Tryggvagata 4-6, 101 Reykjavík, Tel. 511-4004
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