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hat would you like? I am headed to the Black Diamond Royal Library, but when I see a lighted booth in the middle of the usually grey and empty Nytorv plaza, I feel the irresistible, gravitational pull of curiosity. The booth looks more like a fancy trailer home—a strange, anachronistic structure among the cobblestones, complete with lights and a billboard that reads “Få en gratis hårstyling.” I know one word and can deduce the other: gratis, which is free, and hårstyling, which I assume has to do something with the styling of hair. This, I think, must be too good to be true, even for Denmark. Free education, free healthcare, and free hairstyling during Copenhagen Fashion Week? I walk up to the queue outside, which consists of a few people whose faces are buried in their scarves, seeking protection against the late January weather; it has just begun to hail. “Free?” I wonder aloud. “Anything?” “Anything you’d like,” says a worker who has just emerged from inside—a volunteer, perhaps. She has thick eyelashes and wears a black Fashion Week t-shirt. “Just no cuts or dyes.” Who’s paying for this? I want to ask, but the question dies at the back of my throat as she hands me a paper bag with a full size hair spray inside. Perhaps I’ve already paid enough taxes during my first two weeks here (mainly through Danish pastries) to fund the entirety of this hair styling. My interest in seeing the Royal Library is replaced by anticipation as I run through all possible hairstyle combinations in my head. The queue moves up; Eyelashes ushers me inside and tells me I’m number twenty. Inside is a warm refuge, and it doesn’t

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MO• MEN• TAR• ILY

counterpoint / october 2015

BY WENBO BAI

seem at all like a booth set up in the middle of a plaza. The whole place is the size of a comfortable apartment, and is designed like a typical beauty salon. Eight stylists stand behind eight heads of hair with brushes, hairspray, and bobby pins in their hands, fingers flying, intensely concentrating. They all wear black, each with immaculate hairstyles of their own, and are surrounded by ambient lighting from the mirrors and the ceiling. Near the wall, runway scenes from Copenhagen Fashion Week play on a television and a cool, hip beat radiates from two DJs at a sound mixer, blending nicely with the hum of the blow dryers. Hair products leave a sweet, almost cloying smell hanging in the air, and plastic chaise chairs draped with fake furs litter the waiting area. Fashionably hygge, a Danish word that describes a feeling of warmth on a cold day. This is by far the nicest and most organized salon I’ve ever been to, I think as I sit down. The only thing that’s out of place is an abandoned paper cup of tea on the floor next to my chair, remnants of a previous client. Eyelashes is at my service again. “What would you like? Water? Tea? Coffee?” I am both flattered and bewildered. Do I deserve a free beverage? But I think of the cold cup of tea on the floor, discarded and forgotten, and I shake my head. She retreats to usher in more people from outside, where the wind has picked up considerably. My initial giddiness fades as I realize free doesn’t come cheap—I wait for over an hour in the chaise chair. To pass the time, I watch the other people getting their hair done. Styles range from braided twists to bunches of tight ringlets. One man emerges from a chair in just ten minutes; his hair looks exactly the same

Image: Elle Friedberg ’17 (efriedbe@wellesley.edu)

ARTS & CULTURE

Profile for Counterpoint Magazine

October 2015  

October 2015  

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