Cha Chiki Cha, Chiki Cha, I clap and I dance, Cha Chiki Cha. Cowbells, drums, guitars and…freedom. I learnt to dance Salsa in Cuba, where else? My soul was enriched by the rhythm, I’ve been addicted ever since. I’ve always been one of those guys that is not in the slightest bit flamboyant, I have no interest in standing out from the crowd but give me a salsa beat and I’m transformed or perhaps, unleashed. I like socialising with my friends and I like being seen. I like being out and about – when that was the ‘normal’ thing to do that is. At the same time, forget conformity and don’t try and blend me in with a crowd. I stick my finger up at those guys with their one colour shirts, those cookie cutter dudes, those conformists. I’m an individual, what I wear is personal. When you see me, I’ll most likely be wearing a print of some sort. Life is for living and I live in my clothes, it’s not that complicated! I’m one of those guys that you can’t see until you see me and then it’s too late, you can’t unsee me. I’m special like that. I’m like that secret they never told you about, hiding in plain sight, the only thing i’m camouflaged against is beauty – we are one. There’s a pride I take in the clothes that I wear, a personality and an identity that is unique to me. My wardrobe is not a thing, a piece of furniture, it is actually, truly, me. If I see musicians on the street I will always stop and two-step with them, show them that I hold them in the highest esteem, music, whatever style should never be dismissed and I always ensure I leave a token of my appreciation for them before I go.
Just like Salsa is a passion, so too is my beard, no longer the sole property of the lumberjack, beards are for everyman, myself included. Like Salsa, the first time I had a professional cut my beard was in Cuba, where else? Now, one of my favourite places is the barber shop. There is something meaningful about the freedom in getting my haircut and my beard trimmed, something obvious yet immensely enjoyable, something habitual yet a different experience each time. It’s more progression than transformation and it’s a moment of meditation, not all mediation has to be silent and singular, it doesn’t have to be lonely, it can be convivial. It’s experiential, like my love of salsa dance, the beat in time with the thump of my heart. The beautiful shapes, the silhouettes of bodies entwined, beards reimagined, the romance and intimacy. If music is a personality, I am salsa. If my beard was a beat it would be salsa-fied.
I can’t wait to get back there, to the barber shop. I don’t crave having a lot of things, just a few fine things. For me, it is personal hygiene, looking after yourself, some people call it maintenance but I call it a ritual and the truth is, I enjoy it. The truth is, it is important for me to smell good, to look good and to feel amazing. Yes, I could buy myself twenty disposable razors in a month, or, I could buy myself that one amazing razor that I keep for life. Its pleasure renewed, frequently. Value isn’t always in the end result but in the process. Shaving is a craft that I have spent years honing. Whether i do it myself or partake in the enjoyment of someone doing it for me, every time, I feel that the next shave can be better than the last, why can’t it be? Last month was a verdi, this month long stubble, next month a box…maybe. I’m not one of those people that are touchy about their hair, what’s the danger? Hair grows back, at least on my face and it’s just an extension of my wardrobe after-all, an important one but it forms one part of the whole. Don’t confuse my passion for fashion with being shallow. Don’t confuse my love of my beard with vanity. I’m liberated from fashion, I’m free to be me. To anyone looking in, I am a mystery, but really I am not that hard to work out. I feel lucky to have the confidence to pull off this style or the next, it is not for everyone, I get that, variety is the spice of life. I am free and I feel it. Salsa with me?