We talk to Lucjan Szajbel, aka Lucek, about searching for freedom inside
On the one hand a place where he was born, grew up, fell in love for the first time (read: father-miner, pits, Silesia). On the other hand –a philosophy which grew out of this love (read: his uncle’s barber shop named after the town). In hindsight the choice seems simple, even obvious. But not for somebody who defies his destiny in his search for internal freedom.
A coach who has created a dozen or soWorld Champions. Well aware of what he is worth, but shunning splendour.
A man who loves his town. Hethinks he does. A man who does a load of different things, but will always be kind to his nearest and dearest. That’s his take on the world. The man, whose confidence in who he is and what he says is interlaced with humbleness, is Lucjan Szajbel, aka Lucek, in some circles also known as the maker of World Champions, a two-time runner-up in Poland’s barber championships and a coach of the national team of the CMC Federation.
What would you expect to see entering the Avantgarde Hair Salon in Ruda Śląska? Abandon all … Well, there is nothing really to abandon because the concept itself is so absurd that it brings to mind the Czech Theatre of the Absurd, where a scissor legend is spinning around high under the ceiling only to fall down on the beards of blissfully unaware clients, with Schubert playing in the background. This is where I take my first fall: stereotyping. Something that Lucjan hates. In the salon you can hear loud and heavy sounds and I do not mean the sound of a working lathe, but the sound ofmetal from the very bottom of bootleg pits. Lucjan gets straight to the point. He is a perfect embodiment of the casual atmosphere which creates the essence of the place.
I am a coach of the national barber team. I do such things that sometimes I can give a headache even to myself. There is so much of it. Last week I went to Italy. Now I’m in the middle of training. Everything is happening so fast, and I want to be –and will be –a normal guy.
His father was a miner and this was the path he was supposed to follow. But his search for internal freedom led to him to the barber world. He spent his childhood days at the salon run by his uncle, who left for Germany and became a true inspiration for Lucjan. The question about being normal keeps coming back, because where do you look for simple answers where all you can see are question marks? New cut lines. First waves for men. Uncle’s path becomes clearer and clearer and this is the path that will finally lead him to breaking the mold.
Being a barber is not something I have to do. I have fun doing what I do. I am in my element. Being a barber is my thing, my way to live and have fun. This is the thing where I can simply be myself.
And this is where my stereotyping fools me again –because Lucjan cannot be stereotyped. The background music seems to smell of sulphur. The air around us is suddenly filled with electrifying memories of pogo at the famous Katowice Spodek Arena, of being an alternative to where you come from. In Lucjan’s story you can hear the first sharp cuts tested on his punk buddies. The sound of revolution in young, hot, ideas-heavy heads, the revolution which could not be stopped and could not be tamed.
I miss the punk rock culture. Punk rock. Black metal. Chaos. This is where I find my peace. In everything that people find useless, sometimes even inappropriate. Tattoos. Texts which others would not bother to mention. This is where I get my strength. I would like to cross the line, to go against the flow.
A barber can be a bit out of line A barber with a history which will not go away. Sometimes an artisan and sometimes a freak, artist and visionary, collector of beauty and shapes, master of ceremony, and a slave in the temple of daily rituals. A man whose soul is fully loaded, unlocked, aimed at the next challenge. Lucjan believes that the Barber Shop is not a place for pansies, but for people with a vision. Barbers are a subculture of men and women with strong personalities.
Punk is not dead. As long as I live punk will live as well. But I was also hugely impressed when Vanilla Ice appeared with his new style in a Barbie-doll town filled with Barbie-like people, with Barbie-like hairstyles. Because he brings something new, his unique style, to this imaginary world.
Each of us lives in such a world, says Lucjan. And it is entirely up to us to add some character, some spice, an unexpected twist. A good barber is created through work, work and more polish. There is no place for hubris and defiance in this work. A barber needs to go with the flow.
There have been more tears than splendor on Lucjan’s path to internal freedom. But in spite of more difficulties coming his way –almost complete loss of sight in one eye due to a brain tumour, speech impediments –he still has the will to rebel. He wants to show us how to change the world by making impact on people and things that are close to you. He lives in the moment. He says that every time he leaves home he is like a miner going down the pit –not being sure ifhe’ll come back. Why can’t he imagine a life when he’s not a barber?
I am here and I feel good about it. I love Ruda Śląska. I think I do. This is my life. I love my people here –friends, family. I love concerts and events. I am not a machine. I live with these people. Talking. A lot of talking. All of this gives me joy, not happiness. Happiness lasts five minutes, or even just a few seconds. I’m just having fun. The barber’s job is the same everywhere. The only difference is whether it’s cold or hot outside. I am glad to be here. My 13-year-old son wants to be a hair stylist. I give him training heads to practice his cuts. He has already earned his first badges of honor –Band-aids on cut fingers.
For Lucjan life is like the town he grew up in. It’s mainly about people you need to love and respect, in the same way you love and respect districts of Ruda Śląska. None of them is better or worse than others. Each is different and each is a student who can make a total mess of something today and then ace it next week. He is a barber –a wild one, an artists. And he loves barbers who are wild and artists at heart. He loves artists and visionaries who dare to reach for more in this profession. And he will help them get there. Is there anything he would change?
I am happy with what I have. My wife, son, brother, all my life is cool. If I could change something, maybe I would change how I speak and get rid of my cross-eye
talk: Habib Moskin
foto: Marta Błażejowska