I knew it was love when I saw the wigs in the windows. Wigs from the 1960s—short, long, blonde, brown, black—sat atop mannequin heads painted with thick, cat-like eyeliner and pale pink lips like Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton. Around them lay vintage hair products in faded, frayed Crayola-colored boxes, paying homage to the place’s former glory.
The place is Beauty Bar, located at 231 E. 14th Street, and I firmly believe it is what I would look like if I were a bar. Originally a hair salon, the black-and-white tiled floors are graced on the left with a long row of metal hair dryer chairs, a silvery space-age salute to the early 1960s and the beehives that likely once sat under them. The walls are painted white and seafoam green, lacquered over with layers upon layers of silver glitter. Pictures of early '60s girls with teased out helmets of hair and crazy updos smile, pageant-like, from the walls. Cutesy plastic chandeliers hang from the ceiling and profiles of ladies with updos line the mirror over the bar. Being here felt like the grown-up equivalent of playing dress-up and having a tea party, except with martinis (dirty, with three olives for Mr. Bear, and a Cosmo for Barbie, please).
I originally found Beauty Bar online at the end of May. During this time, I probably should have been looking for an apartment instead of looking at all the different bars in New York Magazine’s restaurant section, but as soon as I found Beauty Bar, I forgot what I was supposed to be doing. The place was a vintage-inspired girly fairyland that gave martinis free with a $10 manicure. Beauty Bar became a place I had to get to when I got to New York (Incidentally, if you’re not in New York, there are nine other Beauty Bars around the country, so find the one that works for you!).
Luckily, on my divine roommate’s birthday, she was in the mood for a manicure. The hours for Martinis and Manicures are Monday through Friday from 6pm to 11pm and Saturday & Sunday 7pm-11pm, so we hopped on the 6 train fairly early, arrived at the bar and purchased our manicure tickets (be sure not to lose it or you won’t get your nails done!), sipped our cocktails got our nails did. Oh heyyy.
Not everyone goes to get their nails done, of course. A mostly hipster clientele, ironic platinum blonde mullets, pinup girl tattoos and all, sit at the bar perhaps in deep discussion of Kafka’s most influential works. If they are doing that, I don’t know how it’s possible because the bar is practically the love child of Jayne Mansfield and Elton John. I prefer to just sit and laugh and slowly make my way through my martini, one olive at a time. Why would you want to take yourself so seriously when you’re sitting in a pile of glitter, anyway? All you can do is sparkle plenty.