To get the new Havana look, young men visit special barbershops around the city. The undisputed mecca of these salons is Donde Dorian.
Camouflaged on a residential street opposite a wall with obedient graffiti extolling the local Committee for the Defense of the Revolution, the salon’s drab facade gives way to a bright front room selling Hollywood cigarettes, Cristal beer and espresso from a vintage machine. Above the polished bar is an LG flat-screen TV playing the ubiquitous reggaeton videos of poolside bacchanals.
Around 11 p.m. on a recent evening, a line of young men waited in the back room for their turn in the seat of Dorian Carbonell Fernandéz, 31, who was dressed in jeans and a T-shirt and sculpting the eyebrows of Robert Richard Esteves with a straight edge razor. Mr. Fernandéz looked in a mirror, lined with boxes of Bulgari and Fendi colognes, and reached over the fence of Mr. Esteves’s hair to pluck up wilted locks within. He then blew out the hair up with a blow-dryer. Mr. Fernandéz’s hair blower always points up.
“They all come to the salon before going out,” Mr. Fernandéz said of his nearly 20 clients a night. His own balding hair closely cropped, Mr. Fernandéz said he started in a state-run barbershop but had creative differences with his partners. “Back then there was no styling and they wouldn’t even wash hair,” he remembered. “I wanted to be different.” His dream is to start a chain and help bring Cuban men’s style back to the glory days.
“It’s like the ’50s in Havana,” Pavel Premdes, 26, said as he had his hair touched upward in a “Grease”-like wave. “Dorian is bringing it back.”
As another client showed off a cellphone picture of his girlfriend in librarian glasses straddling a pool table, an assistant to Mr. Fernandéz stood under an elevated glass chamber that looks like the cockpit of a helicopter that had crashed into the salon. It is used for hair straightening.
She flipped through her phone’s pictures of the hairstyles worn by the salon’s most famous clients. There was Yonki’s red, green and black dollop, like a Christmas-season Hershey’s Kiss, and Chacal’s rooster Mohawk. In the corner of the room, Eduardito Borges, an aspiring reggaeton star known as El Mascara, closed his eyes as the hair washer massaged his hair in the sink.