Taming the Beast: John Allan’s Grooming Club

By  | 

I think I’m like most men. Were it not for societal standards of behavior, I would be a complete savage. My masculine instincts lend themselves to more to the caveman with a club who spends his day hunting for food and seeking to mate than to the well-adjusted sophisticate sipping afternoon tea. Personal grooming for me is minimalist at best and only generally part of my routine because I have to leave the house from time to time.

With that said, my visit to John Allan’s Downtown was significantly transformative. When I checked in on Facebook, the place was identified as a “barbershop,” but John Allan’s is anything but a barbershop. Upon entering the venue, I was given a robe-like drape to wear and offered tea, cappuccino, espresso or regular coffee. Barbarian that I am, I chose regular coffee.

As I was enjoying my coffee, my stylist, Dawson, introduced herself informing me that she would be taking care of me today. Before doing anything, she told me she wanted to find out a few things. Right off the bat, this was something new to me. At a barbershop, I just sit down in the chair, no words are exchanged, and the barber takes over. Dawson asked me a series of questions about how I took care of my hair and beard, most of which, I couldn’t answer with certainty. I know I have hair, I wash it, I comb it, and when it gets too long, I get it cut. She made a few well-received suggestions and sent me over to get my hair shampooed and conditioned.

Once my hair was appropriately cleaned, I returned to Dawson’s chair. As she worked her magic on my overgrown mane, she kept me informed about what she was doing, making suggestions about what I should do at home when it’s just me and my hair. At the same time, another woman, Mariana came over to inform me that she would be taking care of my nails, and proceeded to soak my hands in some mystical formula while she cut, filed and essentially transformed my hands into something I wouldn’t ultimately recognize.

Dawson asked me additional questions about whether I blow dry my hair or use any product. Of course, my answers were lacking in substance, which may as well have been a simple grunt of growl. She suggested using light product, evenly distributed, and blow drying. She also trimmed my beard with an actual beard trimmer, in contrast with the scissors I generally use. This was followed by hot towel treatment, which they say is good for my pores. If they say so; I trust them.

In the end, my inner Neanderthal had transformed into a respectable gentleman with smartly styled hair, a closely trimmed beard and the hands of an Adonis. If I had been wearing dress shoes, they would have given me a shine as well. Of course, I’ll be sure to don appropriate footwear the next time I go. And, yes; there will be a next time.

John Allan’s Downtown is the flagship location, but there are two other locations in Manhattan as well. Beverly Hills and Toronto also boast locations and there is a JA’s Razor Club in San Francisco. For more information, visit



Jack Raplee is a Queens native with over 20 years of journalistic experience covering industries as varied as entertainment, manufacturing, engineering and consumer electronics as well as hard news. Apart from writing, he has enjoyed additional exposure in radio work, standup comedy and modeling. While his career trajectory has brought him far and wide, living in places like Nassau, Bahamas; Sungnam, Korea; and Jackson, Mississippi he always seems to end up in his native NYC. Jack is currently working on a yet-to-be-titled book providing his unique perspective on his native Queens as seen from the table of a local diner.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply