Best Barbershop: Soothing soul and an earthly vibe
948 Clay St., Oakland, CA 510-836-5825
Tapers. Fades. Edge-ups. Razor cuts. If you don't recognize any of these terms, then you don't belong in a barbershop. Not that any of the hairsmiths at Lucky's would keep you away. The most ethnic of start-ups, barbershops can be as parochial as local watering holes, and that's just what they are in the 'hood, minus the liquor sort of. The tall window panes of Lucky's six-year-old storefront are bracketed with deep purple curtains and there's a Princely theme that runs through the joint, courtesy of a Crown Royal promotion campaign a couple of years back. A panoramic wide-screen TV centers the one-room shop, along with funked-out paintings, IKEA furniture, and a high-end stereo, usually blasting real jazz or off-rotation KBLX soul. Warriors, Athletics, Raiders, and Goapele have been known to get a Mohawk here. With notable clientele and basic cuts starting at $20, one might expect an air of sididdy (pretension). But the shop, owned by community activist Tyranny Allen, a former Digital Underground crew member, keeps it down to earth. Judge Mathis and Cheaters get regular viewings on the tube, with talkback and affirmations from master barbers who serve as spiritual counselors at times. Friday through Sunday visits are by appointment only, but Lucky's is an open shop: 20 percent of its clients are women. If you're looking for braids or a perm, then La, the shop's female barber, can take care of you. Al Ibarra, originally from Los Angeles, trots out from San Leandro every two weeks to get his buzzcut shaped up. "Brothas are the only ones who know how to cut a fade," he says.