Rage rooms smash onto the scene

Kevin Tiongson and Miranda Manier

By Kaci Watt

Destroying an old TV with a baseball bat is usually frowned upon, but in rage rooms, it is fair game and even celebrated.

“A rage room is a place where you can go to break stuff, smash things [and] get your stress out [to] be able to let out your aggressions,” said Roosevelt McMullan, manager of Escapades Rage Room, 153 W. Ohio St.

Escapades books individuals in the rage room for one and half hour increments starting at $15.

Rage rooms are not just popping up in Chicago but all over the country. With their rise in popularity, there is also concern that the rooms can cause users  to have violent reactions to anger in the real world, according to John Schinnerer, executive coach at Guide to Self, an organization that aids individuals in overcoming emotional hurdles like anger or stress.

Schinnerer said he could see rage rooms attracting a clientele who tend to be aggressive in situations where anger  comes into play.

“Many people like to go and break things as a way to tap into their anger or let go of their anger. [But] it’s not a great way to deal with anger on a long-term basis,” Schinnerer said.

Schinnerer said a healthier management skill is the ability to identify early signs of frustration and then call them out. This allows one to get rid of the anger and not let it build up over time.

Rage room attendee and Tinley Park resident Meg Dignan said she thinks the rooms are a positive outlet for anger or stress. Dignan said she and her friends used this unique experience— along with listening to music— to let go of stressors from work or personal relations.

“[After], we were all able to talk about it and say it felt good to think about things that have been bothering us or have been weighing down on us and [to be] able to let it out,” Dignan said.

Courtesy of Escapades

Dignan said she would like to see rage rooms stick around because they are beneficial. However, she recognizes the concerns some may have when it comes to people who are predisposed to violent reactions attending rage rooms.

“Everybody is different, and if it is something that can be beneficial, I say more power to you,” Dignan said. “But if someone is going to abuse that and take it outside of a controlled, safe space, then it’s obviously not the greatest [outlet] for them.”

Jason Heidel, founder of Make Grandma Smile, an organization that fundraises to support the elderly, said he used a rage room as a positive charity tool. His organization hosted a pop-up at Replay Lincoln Park, 2833 N. Sheffield Ave., where individuals pledged money to smash items.

“If you go in under the idea that it is therapy, it actually is really relieving,” Heidel said. “I’m sure there are people with their opinions against it, but if more people took a crack at it, they probably would not have so many anger issues.”

Dignan said users should go with people they are comfortable with so if it becomes an emotional space, you have a support system to help you. However, she added going alone is also OK.

“It’s a little different and unique,” Dignan said. “If you choose to go alone, enjoy it and really take it in. Have fun with it.”