In Which We Visit the Emporium for Foot Massages in the Gables
You have probably seen it a hundred, if not a thousand, times — the one-story red brick Golden Foot Massage & Spa building on the corner of 37th Avenue and Andalusia. It’s been there since 2010, its windows shuttered or blacked out. For those who have not visited, it’s a mystery. At night (and it is open until 11 pm) the appearance is even more cryptic, with little more than the sign lit up and the word OPEN glowing in red neon.
My wife and I called ahead to make sure we could schedule a foot rub at 8:30 pm. When we arrived, the desk clerk asked if we would prefer a full-body massage. The room was bright and white, decorated with a chandelier and Chinese artifacts, like wood carvings of the Buddha and vases in recessed shelves. We said that a foot rub was sufficient. We didn’t want to commit to a full hour just yet. She pointed to a door and said, “Go down hallway.” But what about payment? “Go down hallway!”
Partway down the hall were two signs: Full Massage to the right, Foot Massage to the left. We went left and entered a large, dark room which held a half-dozen beds on each side. The beds were arranged in pairs, separated by curtains of lace. Two people were already in the room, each with a masseuse working their feet. We sat down on two of the beds, unsure of what to do next. So, we took off our shoes and socks
Moments later, two men emerged from a corner door and gestured for us to lie down. A peaceful, slow piano melody played from hidden speakers, very relaxing. My masseuse covered my eyes with a small cloth and then wiped my feet down with a warm, damp washcloth. And then the foot rub began.
In China, foot rubs are a big deal. Go to any major city and foot rub establishments pop up on every other street. Some are family affairs, where you sit in overstuffed armchairs and watch TV while they wash and then rub your feet. Very cozy.
Some are more like medical facilities, with rows of beds in brightly lit rooms and masseuses dressed in white lab coats. They will be merciless with your feet, driven by reflexology — the concept that specific pressure points on your foot relate to different organs of the body. If the point that relates to a specific organ is sore, the idea is that something could be wrong with that organ.
I have no idea whether our masseuses were trained reflexologists. But when my guy dug deep, I assumed the pain meant I had some organ in peril. At the very least, I accepted that any discomfort was due to some deep stress or tension in my muscles, and just let myself go. And tried not to whimper.
The foot rubs lasted half an hour. Total cost for the two of us: $78. And well worth it. We gave heartfelt thanks (and an extra tip) to our masseuses. My wife said that she now felt a special bond with hers, since he understood her feet so well. And talk about walking on air! Our feet felt amazingly relaxed and revived for the next couple of hours. Now you know what to do after dinner in downtown Coral Gables.
2500 Douglas Rd.