Barbershop by day, dance club by night: Astor Place Hairstylists

Astor Place Hairstylists, a New York City institution, recently broke into the party scene with help from NYU sophomore Quincy Davis.

From+left+to+right%3A+a+man+wearing+a+green+hoodie%2C+a+woman+wearing+a+black+puffer+jacket%2C+a+man+wearing+a+black+leather+jacket+and+a+woman+wearing+a+red+puffer+jacket+dancing+in+a+room.+There+is+a+tripod+with+a+camera+in+front+of+them.

Shirene Anand

(Shirene Anand for WSN)

Julia Diorio, Staff Writer

I walk past Astor Place Hairstylists on my way to class every week, and I have always admired their sign: “We speak Italian, Russian, Greek, Spanish, French, Polish, Uzbek, Farsi, Moroccan, Portuguese, Bengali, Romanian, and a little English.” It was, to me, a beautiful representation of the conglomerate that New York City is. Celebrities ranging from Channing Tatum to Donald Glover to Andy Warhol have visited Astor to get a quick cut for decades since the barbershop first opened in 1947. 

After Astor Place was nearly forced to close its doors due to the pandemic, a group of deep-pocketed investors led by Jonathan Trichter stepped in to purchase it in 2020. As the current chief executive officer, Trichter is proud of keeping Astor Place alive and well for its loyal customers.

“The history of Astor Place is through significant cultural movements that started downtown and circulated uptown and beyond, so things like punk and hip hop, both driven by youth and youth culture,” Trichter said. “Astor was always plugged into the landscape that was downtown New York, that expressed itself through style — specifically, hair.”

With the onset of the pandemic, Astor Place saw fewer and fewer customers come in. After Trichter bought it in 2020, he wanted to bring in younger customers, and saw venturing into the party scene as a way to do it.

“I wanted to plug Astor Place back into youth culture where those movements historically have started, and hopefully will start in the future,” he said. “I started allowing young college students to throw parties after hours and we’ve done a few of them.”

Trichter started working with NYU sophomore Quincy Davis, who has done two shows at Astor Place so far. Davis, who had been struggling to find a venue for his growing audience as a DJ, hit the ground running with Trichter, with the most recent party on Friday, Dec. 9. 

“[My show] started off as a dorm party, it was one last year. That’s how I started realizing we could probably take it to a venue,” Davis said. “A barbershop is a completely different place from a bar, and a different vibe from a club. Those two places have a lot of negative stereotypes that are true.”

From left to right: a woman wearing a green hoodie, a woman wearing a black puffer jacket, a man wearing a black leather jacket and a woman wearing a red puffer jacket dancing in a room. There is artwork on the wall behind them.
(Shirene Anand for WSN) 

From his past experiences with nightclubs, Davis found that security was often lacking, and he knew that many of his friends regularly encountered uncomfortable situations. With Astor Place, he was able to find a space where he could create a stress-free environment for fun, he said.

“Bars and clubs were more about the social aspect instead of the music aspect, and less about the fun,” Davis said. “I felt like I could communicate that I didn’t want that to happen at my shows. I wanted to create an environment where it was about the music and people could just dance and have fun without the worry of a normal bar and a normal club.”

The venue was nothing short of intriguing. Most workstations had been cleared off and pushed to the side to create a large dance floor in the middle. Local artist and manager Michael Saviello has art pieces around the shop, which glow in the dark under blue light. The walls were plastered with photos of different hairstyles and celebrities throughout the years, with even a festive Christmas tree up.

Before guests arrived, Quincy was setting up string lights and discos with precision to ensure the performance was top-notch. There was security at the entrance checking tickets and making sure that no one was too rowdy. Both attendees and staff were very nice, with employees going out of their way to make sure everyone was comfortable. The night was memorable for sure because of the location, but also the music.

As promised, the music was fantastic. Contrary to normal clubbing music, which I would personally describe as heavy on the electronic dance genre, these were songs that anyone would recognize, ranging from rap to 2000s throwbacks and remixes that had everyone bobbing their heads.

Things began to pick up around 11 p.m., with Joshua Block live streaming on his TikTok account with 2.4 million followers. Davis thanked nearly everyone who stopped by and was constantly hyping up his fellow DJs.

By the end of the night, Davis’ goal of creating a better environment for friends to go out and have fun together, with good music to listen to, was realized. Another thing was for sure: Astor Place is back, and it’s here to stay.

Contact Julia Diorio at [email protected]