“Best date ever.”
-Margie, my wife of nearly twelve years whom I’ve known for over half my life.
I have no idea of when I first heard of rage rooms, but the premise is simple: pay someone for access to a room and some tools. Beat the shit out of everything. End scene. Why would anyone do this? Oh man, SO MANY REASONS. And honestly, if you’re hesitant about the concept, I especially recommend it. For real.
I think the first time I ever found catharsis from breaking shit was when I worked at a winery. We would deal with drunk idiots all day and then end the night with a bunch of wine bottles to take out to the dumpster. I worked there with Margie, and one of us (probably her) had the idea to take the bottles and chuck them into the dumpster one at a time as hard as possible. The resulting smash and tinkle of the obliterated bottles helped let off some steam from what was usually a long and annoying night.
Now, I realize that this might sound unhealthy to some of you. You might think that there are healthier ways to deal with anger and emotion. Okay, fine. But if you’ve ever lost someone really close to you and dealt with the entire ordeal with yoga and positive thoughts, then good for you. Also, I don’t think I’d be your friend, but that’s beside the point. The truth is that you shouldn’t judge. Anger is natural, and if you don’t let it out, it just gets pent up inside. I’ve dealt with great losses and huge stressors, as so many of us have. Me, I need to cry sometimes. I need to scream and yell occasionally. And, as I found out, I need to break shit in a controlled environment more often.
Can I get some backup on this, Fred Rogers?
That’s a direct quote from our “quote a day” Mr. Rogers calendar from last year, and we’ve saved it on our fridge. Yes, we are a family that both praises the word of Fred and smashes shit occasionally. We might be outliers, but we happen.
Sometime after Margie’s rake smash was when we first heard of Rage Rooms. This is a thing that is gaining momentum around the country. I won’t explain it too in depth, as I’m sure you all get it by now. Someone owns a company that sets up crap other people have chosen to discard and sets this otherwise useless trash in a room, provides safety equipment and smashing tools, and lets you just destroy a bunch of stuff. If that doesn’t sound cool to you, or if you equate being attracted to such a thing with deviancy, then I have no idea why you’ve read this far.
For the rest of us still in attendance, DOESN’T THAT SOUND AWESOME?!?
Margie and I liked the idea so much, we even spent a couple of nights talking about the possibility of opening one ourselves. Like so many things, these plans fell apart as soon as we realized how much it would take to make it happen. So we just decided to wait to see if someone else would open one near Cleveland, as the closest one at the time was somewhere in Michigan, I think.
Well, in January, SOMEONE OPENED A RAGE ROOM NEAR CLEVELAND. And as soon as I found out, I told Margie. We booked our room for the very next night. They had a couples deal that would put us in a room together, and 10 minutes was within our budget. That might not seem like a long time, but taking a baseball bat and/or crowbar and/or shovel and/or sledgehammer to things is actually quite the workout.
When we got there, it was apparent that my wife was in her element. I mean, she had literally just gone axe throwing for the first time ever about a week earlier and BEAT THE ENTIRE ROOM. If I was apprehensive, it was that I was about to enter the ring with a champion. But you could tell by her smile that she was ready, and I was ready to feed off her excitement.
The place is called Enraged, and the dude running it is awesome. He understands the need for what he is selling, obviously. His business is already making runs on local news stations with subsequent warnings from psychologists that this kind of behavior could lead to more behavior like it, and yadda, yadda, yadda…but the reality is that some of us DO need a release, and sometimes that release is best served in a physical way. And if someone is offering that release in a controlled, safe space, then goddamnit sign me up. I work in a stressful field, my hobbies are constantly critiqued and criticized, I have lost family members and friends, and life is just hard sometimes. Can’t I break something every once in a while without judgement? The fellow who owns the place compared breaking things in one of his rooms to “letting a little air out of the balloon,” which is a nice little analogy. It doesn’t get rid of the stress, but it helps free up some room to take the inevitable additional stress to come.
But enough of all this talk. Let’s get to actually breaking shit.
The setup was decent. Simple rules:
We were the only ones there at the time, and there were three open rooms going down the hall. Ours was the last on the right. I called them “patient rooms.”
When we arrived at our room, we were able to link a phone to a bluetooth speaker. Naturally, we put on some Rage Against the Machine. After picking out some gloves and goggles, we were able to choose a variety of tools to do the smashing with:
Much to my delight, the guy set up the room with “ten minutes worth of stuff to smash,” and didn’t actually impose a time limit. He just said that if we rounded past 25 minutes he’d probably have to come check on us. He set up everything to smash, but there was also a bunch of items in the corner that hadn’t been cleared out yet from previous sessions, and all of it was fair game.
Honestly, when the guy left and we were ready to go, I was nervous. I thought about all the injuries I’ve seen in the ER, I thought about how this isn’t safe, I thought about how maybe this wasn’t a good idea, I thought about nothing at all…it was just odd, standing there with all of this stuff to smash, having permission to do so, and not really knowing where to start. I was oddly anxious.
Luckily, I had a date with no apprehensions whatsoever:
And like that, she was off to the races, showing me how to let loose:
…and it was all downhill from there.
That particular strike was SO SATISFYING. I remember blinking as I brought the crowbar down and then finding that everything I was swinging at had disappeared. I was so glad Margie had taken the slo-mo video.
All of it went down. Except for that damned wreath. The slow cooker was when I finally really let loose. I hit it with the bat on the side and some of the insulation popped out. Next thing I knew, I was slamming on the thing until I literally beat the stuffing out of it. I felt amazing afterward.
When we surveyed the damage and decided we were done, my wife and I were all hugs and smiles, and that elation carried through the rest of the night.
I had to get a little footage of the other rooms. In one, you’ll notice a mangled hunk of metal leaning against a wall beyond an office chair. That was once a filing cabinet.
And from all of that, the owner is disposing of things responsibly. He recycles what he can and the rest was heading to a dump anyhow. His customers just help with the compaction part.
All in all, you either get it or you don’t. If you don’t get it, then move on. If you worry that this is harmful somehow, then you fall into the “don’t get it” category and should move on.
For the rest of you, I want to say that this was an amazing experience. I’d highly recommend it. I’d definitely recommend doing it in a controlled atmosphere like a rage room, and obviously not under other circumstances. But the end result was all happiness and relaxation.
Margie and I drove home chatting about how we felt, what we experienced, the tension that had now disappeared, and how we would definitely do it again.
I can see why these things are catching on.
Best. Date. Ever.