Beijing, “Hairdresser”


In an area that is being demolished, remaining houses and makeshift buildings ensure business is continuing for as long as there are customers around. In this case the customers are construction workers looking for massage and other services. Small shops and restaurants, a pool game club and “hairdressers” are the business. The streets are dirty and the smell of garbage and public toilets is overwhelming.


We talked with one woman who, as a “hairdresser”, provides relaxation services to her clients, mainly in the evening. She starts work at eight o’clock in the morning and continues until ten o’clock at night. After work she returns to her flat nearby. She is from Anhui province and came to Beijing a few years ago. Her husband makes a living with decorating houses. She used to have a much bigger workplace, but that building has already been demolished. Now she has a temporary place, just a few square meters, made from corrugated roof panels and material found on the demolition site. Before the demolition began, her business was much better.


She smiles when she starts talking about her son. Her son has a wide range of interests. He likes painting and dancing. He currently lives in the south of China and studies Information Engineering at a college in Kunming.

Then her smile disappears and she looks sad. “He never calls me mother anymore”.





Beijing, Mr. Fan Qiang


Mr. Fan Qiang is a hairdresser and works 7 days a week, 14 hours a day from 9 am to 11 pm. If he wants to take a few days off, he can ask for it.

First he learned how to cut hair from an “old hand”. Later he entered a school for hairdressers and became a professional. The business is good. He makes around 10 haircuts a day. The shop is located in a compound where many young families live. Most of his customers are 30 – 40 years old or young kids. Not many customers ask for a fashionable haircut. The basic salary depends on the work experiences, skills and the season. He gets commissions based on the number of haircuts.




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