‘Rage rooms’ gain popularity among women, owners say

DENVER, Aug. 29 (UPI) — “Rage rooms” have sprung up across the world, and owners in the United States say women make up most of the customers who pay for the cathartic entertainment of bludgeoning inanimate objects with a baseball bat.

“Most of my clients are women,” said Jeffrey Yip, co-owner with his wife, Elizabeth, of The Rage Cage, situated in a Brooklyn, N.Y., strip mall.

Visitors to The Rage Cage pay $ 44.99 for a half-hour session to don full-body coveralls, helmets with eye protection and gloves. They then use bats, crowbars and shovels to smash plates, glasses and old computer equipment, often to blaring heavy metal music. There’s even a rig on the wall to record everything on your cell phone.

“For women it seems especially stress relieving,” Yip said. “There are not a lot of stress relief outlets for women that they can do and enjoy their privacy.”

The Brooklyn rage room, which calls itself a “destruction services provider,” accommodates parties up to 12 in two rooms, and has been used for work retreats, bachelorette parties and de-stressing sessions.

“We have no judgement and we maintain our clients’ privacy,” Yip said. “Some people come in with pictures of their ex or their boss.”

The rage room trend appears to have been documented first in Tokyo in 2008 during the depths of the Great Recession. Since then, the concept, also called break rooms, smash rooms and venting places, has spread around the world and to many U.S. cities.

“My brother tried it in Australia, and we decided to open one here in Denver,” said Dustin Gagne, co-owner of Smash*It, whose home is an old meat-packing warehouse.

The brothers grew up in small towns in New Hampshire where “we went out to the back yard and hit stuff with baseball bats and sledge hammers,” Gagne said. It’s not meant to be official therapy, Gagne insists, but rather a way to blow off steam and have a fun experience.

What better day for a woman to rage in a rage room than Valentine’s Day?

Los Angeles comedienne and author Amber Hubert decided to try a rage room with her husband this year.

“This feels like it should be illegal,” her husband told her as they used lead pipes to obliterate crockery, vases and computer terminals.

The catharsis made Huber realize that for women, “we’re not supposed to be angry. Guys have permission,” she said.

As the couple hammered inanimate objects to loud music for 25 minutes until a timer buzzed, Hubert said she mulled thoughts about a family feud, a recent job layoff and the difficulty of her life in Los Angeles.

But afterward, she said, she was surprised by the feelings the smash room evoked.

“Even though it’s fun to smash things, usually for me, anger is a mask for sadness,” she said. “I felt a little relief and all the endorphins, and I also felt open and vulnerable like I could have just cried.”

At Smash the Rage in Miami, the female owners cater to their female frequent customers. The company also provides paint-gun sessions for children.

“We think more women come to the rage room because women have to live up to the expectations of a perfect housewife and have to take care of themselves plus their kids and their spouse, but no one takes care of them,” co-owner Kathy Barrios said in an email.

“Women hold it all in, [while] men are more expressive physically. … They already have the gun range and the walls to punch, but women appreciate breaking glassware and home items because it’s a physical form of expression they can relate to.”

But do these experiences really work to reduce anger? Howard Kassinove, professor emeritus of psychology at Hofstra University in New York says the science says no. The author of Anger Management for Everyone points out that strong anger is associated with heart attacks and actually reinforces itself and causes more anger.

Other studies show that anger causes increased inflammation in the elderly, which is linked with conditions such as heart disease, cancer and arthritis.

“Is it ‘fun’ to break objects? Sure, in the very short run,” Kassinove wrote in an email. But he worries that practicing rage behaviors will likely make the person “more proficient at acting ragefully.”

“If our goal is to develop a fair and just society, we have to learn how to deal with frustration and adversity with pro-social reactions such as discussion, assertiveness, problem solving, relaxation, forgiveness and so forth,” he wrote.

He said no official therapeutic anger management program would send a client to a rage room to reinforce raging behavior.

“Those who send angry and aggressive friends and family members to rage rooms would be wise to know that ‘the next object broken could be your head,'” he wrote.

Still, for entertainment, businesses are capitalizing on the experience of destruction.

“[It’s] is not just breaking things up with a sledgehammer,” Smash the Rage says on the company’s website. “It’s an opportunity to experience new feelings of freedom and allow yourself to rage from the heart without being scolded for the broken things in the house.”

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