Many things come at a steep price in New York City, but just like any other city, it has some hidden gems. While one of them is definitely not the flashy real estate, a more covert operation is taking place in Tui-Na centers all over lower Manhattan. It’s probably one of the few instances in the history of all 8 million New Yorkers where $40 will get you farther than $220. Yes, it possible. Let me explain.
I’ve started carrying a lot of tension in my neck over the years from various forms of stress, bad sleeping and bad posture. I doubt I’m the only ‘New Yorker’ alone in this hunched, anxious way of life and so have been told by a few friends for years to hit up a Chinese massage joint to rub it all out. Naturally, I was a skeptic, even for a low maintenance gal. I could never imagine that all of my health concerns would be solved at a cheap,nondescript and definitely no frills basement spot. However, I put that all aside this afternoon when I finally braved my way to Soho for my first Chinese massage.
The place was recommended by a near and dear friend who uses it as a go-to after a lot of traveling. With so much neck pain that the stress was causing me more stress, I decided to bite the bullet and head to the corner of Spring and Mott. I found the staircase below.
I hesitated at the top, afraid of what I would find below me. Once I crawled my way down, though, I embarked on one of the most interesting experiences I’ve had in New York thus far. A lovely sign on the worn countertop notified me that a full 60 minute deep tissue massage would cost a whopping $43. One check. The faded pink paint was at least trying to brighten the dim basement studio and eerie light from a glowing fish tank helped. Three women stood in a little room off the hallway and said nothing. I helped myself to water from a tank with a mouthwash sized cup. Finally the women motioned me back. While everything seemed old and inexpensive, there was a definite sense of cleanliness. Neck-high cinderblock divided each ‘room’ from the next, but luckily the place was empty.
I was nervous stripping down, but once I stuffed my face into the paper towel-lined hole and layed on my belly, I was in some kind of heaven- a painful one, at least. Never in my life have I had such a fantastic massage. These Chinese ladies are not fucking around- excuse my French. Her motions were swift, deep, and studied, working into my stubborn neck with the utmost efficiency. Things got weird again when the tiny woman proceeded to climb onto my back and step around. Right as I was about to tell her, “You’ve got the wrong girl”, she dug in her toes and my back cracked, then loosened. It was a damn miracle how much more open I felt.
After that brief excitement, things calmed down and though it was similar in the style of massages I have had at lovely spas in the Bahamas, Vegas, and uptown in New York, nothing, and I mean nothing, compared to the way my body was handled here. The 60 minutes was worth every penny.
At the end, the ladies exited and I dressed. I threw 3 $20’s on the counter and said, “See you next week,” not even looking back. That was 6 hours ago and I’m still going strong. Tomorrow is going to hurt, but it will be so worth it.
Next time you are in Soho or Chinatown, check this place out. I haven’t been able to find a website, but that’s unsurprising and frankly, no matter. Spring and Mott is all you need to know.