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LOS BARBEROS DE LA HABANA

No es el sueño Americano, es el sueño de ser un barbero cubano.

It’s not the “American Dream,” it’s the dream of being a Cuban barber.

Michell Batista, 39, es un habanero que ha vivido siempre en La Habana Vieja, estudió para ser albañil pero debido a una hernia discal, le toco retirarse y al ver que el dinero no le alcanzaba, se dedicó a ver a los barberos del barrio y se montó su propio local, en el portal de su casa. Batista hace 6 años es barbero por necesidad, es todo un oficio, y lo que mas le gusta es conocer gente y enseñarles a los jóvenes del barrio para que hagan algo productivo en su tiempo libre, dice.

Michell Batista, 39, is a habanero — a Havana resident that has always lived in La Habana Vieja, Old Havana. He studied and practiced stonemasonry, but due to a herniated disk injury, was forced to retire early. Once it became apparent that he couldn’t make ends meet, he devoted his time to learn about the barbershop artistry by watching los barberos del barrio, the neighborhood barbers, and opened up his own shop in the front porch of his humble home. Batista has now been a barber for 6 years and considers it his full time job. He loves to meet new people and to teach the youth of the barrio how to cut and style hair so they have something productive to do in their free time.

Es así donde Saúl Cruz, Harold Pérez, y Brian Ortega, se dedican a ver a Michell para aprender y así montar su barbería. La cosa esta mala, toca trabajar para ayudar en la casa, y así lo hacen. Entre los tres han montado una barbería para pelar a sus amigos y cobrarles, medio centavo de dólar. Pero no les importa, quieren sacar su negocio adelante y poder tener uno propio, como, ¨Donde Dorian¨ lugar donde los artistas cubanos, llegan hacer el pelao o el peinado al estilo de, El Caribeño, Doble tono, Machin Bronw o simplemente el Yonky. Nombres que sacan de los mismos artistas reguetoneros del momento.

It’s exactly what Saúl Cruz, Harold Pérez, and Brian Ortega did; they devoted their time to watch Michell and learn the art of barber shop. Things are bad economically in the country and they are in need to work to help out around the home. Eventually, the three of them opened up their own barber shop. While they mostly cut and style their friends hair, they only charge fifty cents. They are quite aware the pricing is cheap but they don’t care because they see the bigger picture. They want to learn, get ahead, and open up their own shop like the one named “Donde Dorian,” where the local hip Cuban artists go get their hair cut and get El Caribeño, Doble Tono, Machin Brown, or simply El Yonky hair styles; names given by the Reggaeton artist styles of the moment.

“Donde Dorian”, es una empresa que empezó como un sueño, nunca imaginaron llegar a donde están. Dorian Carbonell, 31, afirma que la constancia y la creatividad, es la clave de su éxito. Carbonell, estudio en La provincial de Barbería, como hobby pero al cabo del tiempo se dio cuenta que podría vivir de cortar pelo, dejo sus estudios de comunicación social y monto su propio negocio, era el solo y sus tijeras. Después de 10 años, ya tiene una empresa familiar donde su hermano, Damian, 36, abogado, lo administra, es su manager y gerente. Yo me dedico a gerenciar, mi hermano es el artista, el crea y diseña, afirma. De ahí es donde salen los mejores diseños de La Habana.

“Donde Dorian,” “Where Dorian is” as it translates, is an establishment that started out as a dream and the founders never imagined they would be where they are now. Dorian Carbonell, 31, assures that perseverance and consistency is the key to its success. Carbonell studied in “La Provincial de Barberia” as a hobby. With time, he realized he could make a living out of cutting hair and left his studies in social communications and opened up his own shop with only a pair of scissors in hand. After 10 years, he has a successful business where his brother, Damian, 36, lawyer, administers and manages the business. “I dedicate myself to manage the business, my brother is the artist…he creates and designs,” Damian says. It’s well known in La Habana that the best designs come out of his shop.

¨Donde Dorian¨, hay pocos lugares, hasta ahora el hombre cubano se está donde cuenta, la importancia de verse bien, vestirse a la moda y sobre todo verse bien peinado. Muchos viene dos veces por semana, si el presupuesto se los permite. Cada pelado, con peinado cuesta, 5 dólares. Cobramos caro pero es de calidad, dice Dorian.

“Donde Dorian” is unique and there are only a few places like it. It hasn’t been until recently that Cubans started noticing the importance of looking good, dressing fashionably, and above all, being well groomed by having good hair cut and style. Many of Dorian’s customers come twice a week, if the budget permits. Each hair cut and styling costs five dollars. “It is expensive but it is quality work”, admits Dorian.

Pero no todo es moda, también están los tradicionales, Gerardo Aquila, 78, empezó hace 65 años, aprendió viendo y ser barbero es su vida, se siente feliz cuando hace un buen corte o como Antonio Menéndez, 48, lo gusta su oficio, se siente el sicólogo del barrio, La Habana Vieja, me entretiene hablar con la gente y que me cuenten sus problemas, por lo menos les escucho y así gano dinero para vivir.

Not everything is about the latest fashion and styles; there are also many traditional barbers. Gerardo Aquila, 78, started cutting hair 65 years ago. Like the other guys, he learned by watching. He feels very happy when he does a good hair cut and like Antonio Menendes, 48, likes his job because he feels like the psychologist of the barrio de La Habana Vieja. “It’s entertaining talking to people and listening to their problems while cutting their hair…if anything, I at least get paid to listen to them,” says Menendes.

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