African/black salons remain one of my favourite places to be. Some of the funniest and heartbreaking conversations happen on the shop floor. Women - sometimes but not always - from different parts of Africa or the Caribbean, bound by the perks and distresses and variations of what it means to be feminine. This one, from Nigeria. This one, Ghana. This one, Cameroon. Another, Jamaica, St Lucia, and more. All, bound by stories of (useless) men or stories of a better life back home. Of the friend who only last week was hunted by immigration, or the one who’s leaving her husband or fallen pregnant. Of the one who’s had a day off “thank God because she is useless at doing hair” and lazy as. Of losing babies at 22 weeks, of losing family.
Hair salons are a place of gossip, but also of trust and openness. Here, the women come to forget that they are weary. They come here to forget the times they have felt alone. And always, they leave looking flyy which is a plus. I love that this is a place of advice, from sex to food to money. That this is a place of debate and acceptance…One of my songs, Butterflies Are Free, has a clip at the end of an actual conversation I had in a salon a few months ago. It was somewhere in Peckham.
Does anyone love salons as much as I do? I think it’s also because hair is such a big part of my culture, and I’ve been in salons since I was super young…even if only to be with my mum while she got her hair done. Salons fill me with nostalgia, I guess (?!)