What were you up to while in college? Partying, of course, but perhaps not while also kicking off a pretty awesome business plan that takes advantage of both the city we call home and students' propensity to blow off some steam while dancing.
Current New York University (NYU) sophomore recording music major Quincy Davis, who is 19 years old, spent last year hosting parties for his friends in his dorm room. “The parties started getting bigger and bigger because people wanted to stay local,” Davis explains, noting he’d DJ at the events as well. “We got to the point where we were having pretty consistent parties of 50 people and I decided to take it to an actual venue. Eventually, I landed on Astor Place Hairstylists barbershop in Greenwich Village.”
Whether accidentally or not, Davis stumbled upon an iconic downtown venue filled with the sort of historical energy that most NYU students apply to the school to actually experience: Astor Place Hairstylists in downtown Manhattan, right by the university's campus.
"We lent our space to host art shows and comedy nights in the past but these NYU parties are particularly interesting to me because Astor Place has this history of helping disseminate and percolate downtown culture to the rest of Manhattan and the world," says owner and financier Jonathan Trichter. "But during the pandemic, the neighborhood didn't have a chance to refresh. It got sedentary. So I was really looking for young, talented creators to have some fun with the space and I thought that would help us re-engage with youth culture in New York."
The bet was a successful one: nearly 300 students paid to attend Davis’ latest barbershop party and he’s got a bunch more planned across other venues as well. Although mostly frequented by his fellow undergraduates, Davis’ parties are open to the public.
For his part, Trichter acknowledges that the events have helped reinvigorate his business following the pandemic while introducing younger folks to the sort of culture that has defined downtown New York for decades now.
“We always kept a core clientele of everyday working-class New Yorkers looking for a great haircut at a reasonable price at a place that was authentically New York—and that is what the shop has become, mostly,” he explains. “But we get lots of folks nostalgic for a piece of what New York was after the pandemic. We’ve also been embraced by LGBTQ culture because we would cater to them without looking twice—we were a gay-friendly business before other people even knew what that meant.”
Speaking of hair culture: what styles rocked our streets this past year? "We saw a lot of crazy colors through last spring and summer," says the guru. "People were going outside again for the first time and wanted to be expressive, wanted to show more skin and style."
Check out Davis’s Instagram account to learn about upcoming parties.