With midterms approaching, our reporter relives the rapture of expressing anger—and she didn’t have to clean up her mess
In the words of the great philosopher Frederick Durst from the band Limp Bizkit, “It’s just one of those days, where you don’t want to wake up, everything is fucked, everybody sucks. It’s all about the he-says, she-says bullshit. I think you better quit, talking that shit. And if my day keeps going this way, I just might, break something tonight. Just give me something to break.”
Every day, it seems another story pops up in the media that makes me say, “We are on the dumbest timeline.” Everyone is angry. But this isn’t a pissing match. We’re all entitled to that visceral rage. So, we found it fitting for this issue of Luckbox, which is filled with political hot takes, to also offer a bit of lighter fare on the rapturous experience of rage rooms. If we can’t all get along, can we at least agree that smashing stuff from plates to printers to the patriarchy is a damn good time?
Rage rooms, anger rooms or break rooms—where you pay a small fee to destroy everything in a room without having to clean it up—are a quickly growing institution dedicated to that lesser known sin, wrath. Think of it as your own private frat house. All of the destruction—none of the criminal charges. In the U.S., an estimated 60 of these venues are operating, according to CNN.
I visited Kanya Lounge, Chicago’s only rage room, to see if hulking out could bring me peace. Kanya features three custom rage rooms that patrons can rent for 30-minute increments. Your $98 fee gets you one premium item, like a computer monitor, printer or TV; one small item, like a VCR, keyboard or DVD player; and a mix of seven standard items, like plates and glasses.
Your rage concierge (OK, I just invented that but it’s a good description) escorts you to your private rage room and outfits you with an apron, gloves, and a helmet with sound-reducing ear muffs and a fold-down face shield. My RC, Chris, told me to “choose my weapon,” and like a scene from The Warriors, I selected a metal pipe from a five-gallon bucket. Can you dig it?
Then, it’s just you, your personal demons and a printer from the early ’80s. I did my best Carrie Underwood Before He Cheats bat twirl and went at it. My first few smashes were tentative. Like, is this OK? I feel bad. But that solid steel pipe feels cold and hefty in your hand. You get into a rhythm. As you arc that pipe into motion, your rage becomes corporeal, vivid and almost a living, breathing thing. Everything else just falls away.
Plates are the most satisfying to smash. There’s a wild explosion as the tiny shards fly toward your face. As a writer on deadline, I took delighted girlish glee in smashing a multitude of computer keyboards. Who’s QWERTY now, bitch? And the flatscreen monitors had a most satisfying crack that started in the center, then spread outwards like a thousand tiny spider webs. Sometimes, I screamed when I smashed things. Other times, my resolute determination just rendered satisfied grunts when my steel pipe made contact.
The 30-minute session flew by. When I was done, I was sweaty, and my heart rate was so elevated that my rage session measured as a full-fledged workout on my Apple Watch. Who knew? Rage burns calories! Afterward, I felt great. Lighter, freer, less heaviness in my chest. Kind of like I had simultaneously had some excellent Indica, took a Xanax and actually went to bed with a competent man.
As I exited the room, I ran into a young lady named Bethany whose eyes were bright and wild behind her glasses, her cheeks flushed with exertion. “Holy crap, I bent my pipe!” she exclaimed. I asked what brought her and her partner, Ethan, to Kanya Lounge. “She’s had a lot of pent-up anger,” Ethan tells me. “For the past 21 years!” Bethany pipes in. “It’s my birthday today.” Ethan says he googled “rage rooms,” and this was the only thing that popped up. So, the couple made the drive from Aurora, a suburb of Chicago.
I then went downstairs into the lounge to speak to the manager, Guss Castro, about why rage rooms are such an experience. Kanya opened in 2020 during the height of the pandemic. Guss, who started as a bartender, but now manages the lounge, said he truly believes in the efficacy of rage rooms. “The pandemic messed up a lot of people,” he said. “So many people are sad and a little angry. There’s so many stories told in the room. We’ve seen people crying, people really angry, stopping, then just crying. It really works, though. I think doctors should recommend this place.”
During the pandemic, business was hampered by occupancy restrictions, but now the lounge sees an average of 40-60 reservations a day.
Who’s showing up? Nearly “99% of the reservations are from women,” Castro said. He laughs and in a lilting accent recounts a common occurrence. “Women come in with this (angry) face, and I start to see they need something extra and I open the door and throw a couple extra plates in there.” He goes on to explain that when the rooms are booked by couples, men often just stand in the corner, mouths agape as their ladies seek revenge on a 40-pound printer. He also mentions that TikTok is bringing in a younger clientele who want more experiences, and that he’s seen the positive change the room can bring even in his own daughter.
“I have a daughter who is 14,” he said. “She comes in with a little attitude. I say bring a couple friends with you. I asked the owner (rooms are technically for 18+), and he says, take it. Maybe 25 minutes, the kids were sweating, breaking keyboards, printers and monitors—everything. Kids have a lot of things on their mind that they don’t want to share with their parents.”
Anecdotally, rage rooms are the best thing that ever happened to me. Scientifically, the jury is still out.
“We have this culture in which people are often really angry,” clinical psychologist Dr. Scott Bea said in an interview for the Cleveland Clinic. “Yet, we’ve not taught people how to express anger in healthy ways or what anger’s all about or how it’s sometimes useful.” According to Dr. Bea, anger rooms and other physical outlets for anger may temporarily expel the bad feelings. But they don’t address the underlying cause of anger or help people learn healthier ways to manage their emotions. “I think it’s fine if you want to go have fun with it, but I don’t think it’s particularly therapeutic,” he said.
For me, my first rage room foray was a catharsis—a reawakening, a rebirth of a kinder, less rage-y me. Nothing is more satisfying for a woman than making a mess that she doesn’t have to clean up.
Vonetta Logan, a writer and comedian, appears daily on the tastytrade network. @vonettalogan