If you’re female, don’t even try… Manchester welcomes men-only barber shop on Deansgate

By Ana Hine

Women will not be allowed to even cross the threshold of a new barber shop opening on Deansgate on Tuesday.

Barber Barber will provide cut-throat shaving and aims to be a place for Manchester’s ‘men to be men’, where a man can leave his troubles (and his wife) at the door.

In fact, owner Johnny the BaBa is so determined to uphold the men-only rule that he has been known to throw women out who have entered his other establishments.

Johnny, who is expanding his traditional Irish business into Barton Arcade, doesn’t believe the ban on women should cause any offence however.

 “Why would a woman want to come to a barbershop?” he asked.

The decision to only cut male hair is one of craftsmanship, according to Johnny.

“Women’s short hair and men’s short hair is very different because of the cheek bones and general bone structure of ladies,” he explained.

“We’re just not trained to cut hair that way.”

IT’S A MAN’S WORLD: Johnny the BaBa at work while staff watch in background

Over the past decade or so his trade has been ‘bastardised beyond belief’, Johnny claims. He wants to return to what he sees as the golden age of men’s haircutting.

According to Johnny, whose legal name is Johnny Shanahan, in 1930s’ America barbershops became places for men to socialise, as during prohibition alcohol and bars were banned.

He hopes that Barber Barber will become a place for men to hang out in the same way and intends to hold poker nights once the shop has established itself, though the card games would be for regulars.

Barring women is a necessity in Johnny’s eyes.

“If you put 20 guys in a room and then put a woman in there… we’re not trying to offend, but it would change the atmosphere,” he said.

Styled as a gentleman’s salon, a small bar will provide the men with whiskey and other alcohols.

For Johnny there’s no real hierarchy and, unlike other shops, the cost of a haircut will be the same whichever man is doing the job.

He explained: “They’re trained the same way. You’re a barber of you’re an apprentice, but the apprentice doesn’t cut until he’s ready.

Two of his staff members, Ben Kenobi and Inky Steve, are from Manchester. Johnny describes the city as a ‘really cool town’.

He said: “It’s a big, bustling city but it’s got a town vibe. Everyone says ‘hello’.”

And Johnny is not afraid to defend his craft and his discriminating stance.

“Being a barber is nothing to be ashamed of. There’s no shame in being a master barber – someone who really knows about men’s hair,” he said.

In preparation for the opening Johnny and his team appeared at the opening of Sweeney Todd at the Royal Exchange last week.

Tuesday will be just like any other working day, promises Johnny – with the shop opening at 9am.

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