Traditionally, the neighborhood barbershop serves as a place for a haircut, shave, and some gossip. With the recent opening of the East Village’s Blind Barber, you can get a beer and some dancing in while you’re at it.
Located at the corner of 10th Street and Avenue B, this speakeasy-styled bar’s entrance is marked by a red rope and a scattering of smokers. Good thing, too — there’s no sign or windows into the bar. Inside, you walk past a snarky door girl and through a dimly lit, sparsely furnished barber shop — functional during the day, of course. A $40 haircut and $30 hot shave both come with a beverage of your choice (do not fear — your barbers aren’t drinking with you); after 9 p.m, however, the storefront is just part of the gimmick. Swing aside an old, rusty door and you’re suddenly in the middle of a swamped bar.
About a year ago, the space was home to Plan B, and the layout hasn’t changed much since, though the atmosphere certainly has. The beaten-down black-and-white checkered floors remain, as does the line of weathered leather-upholstered booths. Now, though, the space is almost entirely lit by a flickering glow from candles that reflect off large, framed vintage photos. Fancy Victorian parlor couches clump around the exit in the “Living Room” area, next to a bar that serves up appropriately fancy cocktails. It seems that the bar is equal parts alcohol and flavor-infused syrups: Glass jars filled with syrupy liquids and cloves of garlic and cayenne peppers line the top shelves, while stone vats marked “chilis” and “espresso” (among others) sit above the liquor bottles. Delicious concoctions are all part of the lounge’s vibe — fresh fruit is on rotation behind the bar, and asking that the bartender “surprise you” will never fail. (Though it will set you back about $15.) Through the packed dance floor and past a slightly lofted DJ booth, you’ll find a secret back room called “Grandpa’s Den.” Smoking is not allowed.
Don’t let the lounge’s excess of seating options fool you, though: The Blind Barber strives for a dance floor almost every night of the week. Tonight’s event was Shape Up Wednesdays, a monthly fete courtesy of resident DJs Skinny Friedman and Dash Speaks. along with their guest, Gordon Voidwell. By the time we got in around 11:30 p.m., Skinny was on the decks, and the dance floor was swarmed with a mix of young and fancy patrons very carefully bopping about to De La Soul’s “Me, Myself, and I.” It’s quite a balancing act teetering around on three-inch heels while gingerly toting a martini, we suppose. A gaggle of almost identical black-clad party-girl clones sat down in a booth and jumped up again at every song. One stabbed at colorful clumps in her drink (mangoes? oranges?) with the help of a straw. When Prince’s “1999” kicked in, she gingerly set down the drink and straw, carefully stood up, then jumped and squealed. Pretty endearing, actually.
If last night was any indication of what to expect, the weeknights cater to just about anyone, while carefully avoiding becoming yet another radio-pop-infested cornfest. “I have a directive to not play Gaga and Ke$ha and shit,” jokes Skinny after his set. “I actively decided DJ Khaled would be pushing it.” Barber shtick, unusual drinks, cute boys, and some DJ discretion . . . just the sort of thing that will bring us back.