What's in a name? RUB: Massage, Yoga, Wellness.
March 21, 2014 6:25 PM   Subscribe

What do you think of the name "Rub" for a health spa? Is it cute or dirty and why?
posted by lolo341 to Society & Culture (34 answers total)
I would absolutely think it was a sex work massage shop.
posted by Jairus at 6:26 PM on March 21, 2014 [58 favorites]

I think it's right on the cusp and could go either way depending on the rest of the branding.
posted by ottereroticist at 6:28 PM on March 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Kind of rubs me the wrong way.
posted by NoraCharles at 6:29 PM on March 21, 2014 [8 favorites]

See "rub and tug"
posted by cozenedindigo at 6:29 PM on March 21, 2014 [5 favorites]

yeah, too far towards dirty.
posted by the twistinside at 6:33 PM on March 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

Makes me think of "rub one out". That could be an Australianism, I'm not sure, but it's not great.
posted by deadwax at 6:36 PM on March 21, 2014 [6 favorites]

That's a name you should definitely avoid. Also, 'Happy Endings'.
posted by Pudhoho at 6:36 PM on March 21, 2014 [8 favorites]

To be honest it's the kind of name that strikes me as trying to be clever but is just annoying and stupid sounding. But I think many businesses name themselves in a similar way these days. So you would have that "trendy" sound people seem to be going for.
posted by Blitz at 6:37 PM on March 21, 2014 [6 favorites]

I don't know about dirty, but in New York there's a barbecue restaurant with that name. So I would probably not associate it primarily with spa type services.
posted by Sara C. at 6:37 PM on March 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Picture your client telling their coworker, "yeah, my masseuse is great- she work out of Rub." Who do you think would feel comfortable with this?
posted by samthemander at 6:38 PM on March 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Nthing would peg it as a brothel.
posted by smoke at 6:40 PM on March 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Apparently my brain leaps straight to "ay, there's the rub", so... neither cute nor dirty but weirdly literary?

You might want to specify a location; connotations may vary with dialect.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 6:46 PM on March 21, 2014

It feels a little like both or in between; borderline. Like something you might see at a W hotel (I think their spa might be called Wet), but slightly more risqué.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:46 PM on March 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

The Rub was the name of the massage spa in the short-lived Lifetime series The Client List. They were known for giving "happy endings" to clients...
posted by cecic at 6:52 PM on March 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'd immediately think of "rub and tug." I'd never make a connection to anything yoga or wellness related. Massage maybe, but not the kind the spa would offer. Nothing borderline about it at all, to me; straight up sex shop connotations.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 6:53 PM on March 21, 2014 [6 favorites]

Ditto "rub one out." Not dirty for a BBQ place but definitely dirty for a spa.
posted by TrixieRamble at 7:07 PM on March 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

I thought "ay, there's the rub" also, and then thought it could have been a place with good brisket. Yoga doesn't have much rubbing, except a bit of a temple massage at the meditative bit in the end, does it?
posted by batter_my_heart at 7:09 PM on March 21, 2014

Sexual associations aside, it's just not a very pretty word: "r" is aggressive, the short "u" before "b" is vulgar-sounding and gross and kinda froggy. In The Screwtape Letters, two of the six devils named are Slubgob and Glubose-- you get the idea.

When I think of relaxation and spa services, I hear liquid vowels, maybe some "l"s and "s" or the occasional warm "m". Maybe sit down with your Roget's and work on a synonym that sounds a little more like the "feel" you're going for?
posted by Bardolph at 7:20 PM on March 21, 2014 [9 favorites]

I would be impressed at how you had managed to discreetly signal that you offer happy endings by a careful choice of name. Assuming this is not your intention, don't do it.
posted by lollusc at 7:39 PM on March 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

Folks looking for a rub & tug frequent a site called rubmaps.com - you don't want "rub" anywhere near your name.
posted by porn in the woods at 7:42 PM on March 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I thought it was pretty cute, but how other people will take it will totally depend on the marketing. If it looks above-board, people will treat it like it's above-board.

I would go to Rub because I wanted a nice massage, and because I would want to tell people I went to Rub and got a massage, and then get to make jokes about happy endings, although everyone would understand from context that I didn't actually get a sex-massage. It's just naughty enough that it's funny. It's a conversation starter, and word-of-mouth is great advertising.

I would eat at the Sausage Factory in the Castro, a nice Italian place, and I have totally heard that Hand Job, a nail salon also in the Castro, does a great job, and they always have people in there so they must be fine. The silly name-- and both the Sausage Factory and Hand Job Nail Salon are even sillier than Rub by like a factor of ten-- gets people in the door, and your quality of service gets them coming back.
posted by blnkfrnk at 7:43 PM on March 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

How about "Knead"?
posted by jshort at 8:02 PM on March 21, 2014 [6 favorites]

I'd never be able to take the place seriously and wouldn't consider going.
posted by Space Kitty at 8:08 PM on March 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

(Hit post too soon)

TBH, I'd probably also side-eye anybody I saw using the place. Don't massage therapists have enough of an image problem without deliberately marketing their services like this?
posted by Space Kitty at 8:11 PM on March 21, 2014 [6 favorites]

The sexual connotation is pretty hard to avoid, and it's not the sort of word that makes me think of relaxation or wellness or indulgence. In fact, if you asked me to describe a professional massage, I'm not sure I'd even use the word "rub."

And I agree with Blitz that this category of name has a trendy tryhard ring to it; I've seen a lot of newer restaurants, bars, and other businesses named after short, descriptive verbs, like "Savor" or "Sip" or "Taste" and so on. Sometimes these names work, but often they don't.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:26 PM on March 21, 2014

yeah, i think in the context of a food place or nail bar (like in the examples above), the difference is that it has nothing to do with sex, haha! whereas there are already a lot of massage parlours that are happy ending type places. i get it, it's an ironic name, but it's going to be misleading for anyone who isn't in the 'ironic' target market, which is a LOT of people. i would also be really concerned for the workers there who happen upon a client who misunderstood and wanted something "extra". that could feel unsafe in a second.

i LOVE "Knead" though. still great double entendre without so much sex. amazing suggestion!
posted by andreapandrea at 8:27 PM on March 21, 2014 [5 favorites]

Combined with the right branding, it sounds clever, cool and a bit hipster. Winking, ironic, sassy.

I don't know if that's the market you're going for though.
posted by dontjumplarry at 8:45 PM on March 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

I too love "Knead." It has the added benefit of suggesting that massage is not a luxury. FWIW I am a professional yoga teacher.
posted by TrixieRamble at 8:54 PM on March 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

If I saw a "massage / yoga / wellness" center named RUB I would assume it was going for a quirky upscale "not your mother-in-law's salon" vibe. The kind of place where you can get a wheatgrass mango cappuccino after your acroyoga class, you know? I kind of like it.

It would depend on the neighborhood and the general decor, I guess, but there would have to be a whole lot of red neon and sleaze around the entrance to make me think there was any chance the mild innuendo in the name was meant unironically.
posted by ook at 1:24 AM on March 22, 2014

Ha, look: RUB Ann Arbor for example. Maybe I'm just slow to pick up on the signals, but I'm not getting a handjobby vibe there.

And my mental image was so close! The espresso bar is downstairs
posted by ook at 1:35 AM on March 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Hahaha RUB Ann Arbor is what spawned this question! I agree with those who said that the branding "massage/yoga/wellness" might alleviate some of the questioning, but I have a coworker who mentioned getting a massage at Rub, in Ann Arbor, MI. As @ook mentioned, if you go to the website, it's clearly just a trendy, cutesy name. But you can imagine that if someone said they were going relax at a place called Rub, it might raise a few eyebrows and prompt some laughs. This led to a water cooler poll in which most people said it sounds kinky, but there are two holdouts (including the person who frequents Rub) who were appalled that it would automatically conjure any kind of sexual connotation in one's mind. Thanks for the responses!
posted by lolo341 at 6:04 AM on March 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

There are really two problems I see with naming a Massage / Yoga / Wellness business RUB.

The first is the amply covered "ewww, no" angle.

The second is that RUB only relates to one of those three areas of practice, so it's poor branding.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:54 AM on March 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's going to be a huge pain in the ass for people to Google you if you call your massage joint "rub."
posted by Countess Sandwich at 3:53 PM on March 22, 2014

I have a few friends who frequent so-called "rub-and-tugs" and would suggest anything with "rub" in the name will attract a similar clientele (just as "tug" would). There is nothing wrong with that and the clients are usually gentle and sweet, but you should be aware of the expectations and behaviors your customer base will have towards the staff.
posted by partly squamous and partly rugose at 5:35 PM on March 22, 2014

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