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Parlour and Juke: Nashville’s anti-salon

From the moment the craftsman-style door swings open, it’s obvious Parlour and Juke is not your typical beauty salon.

“It’s kind of an oxymoron. If you think about a physical place that’s a parlour, it sounds very formal. And if you think about a place that’s a juke-joint, it sounds dirty and dusty,” owner Calli Devaney said.

Parlour and Juke strives to blend both of those aspects into one: Nashville’s anti-salon, a place where you can get hair done or just stop in for a drink or two.

Even the Eighth Avenue South location, that shares a parking lot with Mercy Lounge and The Cannery Ballroom, plays off this idea.

This mix of old and new, dusty and modern is seen in the decor.

Posters, artwork and scientific diagrams cover the white walls of the former photography studio. Exposed wood beams and air ducts give the Cannery Row space an open warehouse feel.

Large ornate mirrors mark each stylists’ station, old family quilts and strings of large-bulbed lights hang from the beams and a Roman Catholic prayer altar holds an array of bottles and garage sale knick-knacks under the space’s large back window.

Stylists offer customers drinks served in mason jars. The choices: Tab, Cheerwine, Crush, coffee and Yazoo beer, a patron favorite.

Mixed within the old-school advertisements and modern stage lights are a series of souvenirs from hunting expeditions. A stuffed fox here. The head of a jackalope there. And antlers.

But it’s what’s hanging off the antlers that causes the most talk: ponytails of human hair.

“A long time ago I just cut off someone’s hair and stuck it up there. No real reason. Everyone just kind of followed suit,” Devaney said. “I think I got it from some dive bar in Vegas. I don’t remember. If it was Vegas that might explain it.”

Unique trinkets aside, Parlour and Juke’s atmosphere and mission all go back to the “anti-salon salon” vein of thought.

“It doesn’t feel like any salon I’ve been at. Doesn’t feel stuffy, doesn’t feel frufru,” assistant manager Erin Belle said. “It’s just a cool place to hang out, even if you aren’t getting your hair done.”

Parlour and Juke’s doors opened on March 16, 2011 after Devaney took the opportunity to create a space of her own that was different from the average salon experience.

When the Alabama native got the chance to carry out her ideas, Devaney knew the exact feel she wanted.

“I knew I wanted to have a very uni-sex space, gender-neutral space, where a guy or a girl would feel really comfortable, a space where people knew everybody, that felt warm and inviting,” Devaney said.

Devaney even had the type of real estate she wanted pinned down.

“Whenever I was looking for a space, I was like ‘I really, really want to be close to a music venue if that can happen,’’’ she said. “It was just bonus that it happened to be Mercy and Cannery.”

Picking a name was more difficult.

Devaney knew she wanted her shop to be called “ something and something,” but wasn’t sure what those “somethings” should be. She settled on ‘Parlour’ because the definition, “a place for people to meet and share ideas,” embodied her vision for the salon and ‘Juke’ was added after a friend suggested it.

Her vision continued with the decor.

“I decorated the place myself, so I’m lucky other people liked it,” Devaney said.

“Most of the pieces that are in here are family pieces that I’ve had for years,” she said, like the skin of a rattlesnake that her grandfather shot when she was a little girl.

Devaney calls her shop’s style laid-back and inviting with a “Southern-Gothic, juke-joint vibe.”

“I think she just wanted someplace that didn’t feel like a salon,” manager Jenny Davis said. “To create a place that didn’t feel like anywhere else, where you can come drink a beer and bring your boyfriend.”

That vibe is what keeps customers coming back.

“I’ve been getting hair done at salons since I was 12 and have worked in them for 10 years,” said Brooke Baxter, a customer who found Parlour and Juke after an Internet search. “This is the most comfortable and cool salon I’ve been in. And the best buy by far.”

Costs for a women’s haircut is between $35 to $80, depending on the stylist.

Raves like Baxter’s have not only expanded Parlour and Juke’s clientele but also played a role in the shop receiving national press. The salon landed a mention in GQ’s July travel guide to Nashville.

While Parlour and Juke did see an uptick in new appointments, mostly men, following the photo shoot, Devaney is wary of too much press.

“It’s nice to me to have little pops of it every now and then. Little pops of it here and there I’m down for, but I never seek it out,” she said. “If it comes, great. If doesn’t, great. We are still here doing hair.”

Even with recognition from both national and local press, Parlour and Juke is focused on building relationships not only in the shop, but within the community.

Playing off its proximity to iconic music venues, the shop operates as a ticket vendor and promoter for shows at Mercy Lounge, The Cannery Ballroom and The High Watt.

“We have a great relationship with them, so it’s fun to be able to promote and go to their shows,” Devaney said.

On top of promoting other venues’ shows, Parlour and Juke periodically becomes a music venue itself in a series called Live Cuts.

“I am a huge music fan so the idea of being able to pick my band of the moment and have them come to me sounded real fun,” Devaney said.

With Parlour and Juke nearing its third year of operation, success has been a key to its growth. The shop added a new barber chair complete with a new barber last November. Devaney is also currently looking for ways to expand the space.

But this drive for expansion hasn’t changed Devaney’s focus on a cozy, comfortable and ordinary atmosphere. Or at least what she considers to be normal.

“You know normal … with ponytails on the wall.”

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