Photos by Steve Penhollow
January 27, 2021
If you walked into my basement office right now, you would naturally assume that someone had ransacked the place.
You might even peg me as the sort of person who gets so angry that he flips tables.
But I have never flipped a table in my life. I have bumped into plenty, but never flipped one. I’m just a slob; a passive destructive force.
Rage is something I have never been able to accumulate much of. So I wondered what sort of emotions I might experience at All The Rage, a series of “rage rooms” that opened in Fort Wayne in August 2019.
Take a page from Japan
The rage room phenomenon started in Japan about a dozen years ago, according to Wikipedia.
For a fee, you don protective accoutrements and enter a fortified room where you are given license to break things such as printers and pitchers to relieve stress and tension.
Also, rage, presumably.
I would go so far as to say that rage rooms are safe spaces for rage instead of from rage, even though that’s the sort of seeming contradiction that caused computers to self-destruct on Star Trek.
As a clumsy person, my dream is to pay a fee to enter a room where I am prevented from breaking anything accidentally for at least an hour.
Nevertheless, I decided to visit All the Rage and determine if I could tap a hidden well of intentional destructiveness.
I brought my friend Jaclyn, who seems even less capable of accumulating rage than me. So incapable is she of accumulating rage that it really makes me quite angry.
I am grateful to Abby Greutman, co-owner of All The Rage, for reassuring me that the dictionary definition of rage is not the same as the “rage room” definition.
“You don’t have to be angry to rage,” she said. “I am not an angry person either. I am probably the last person in a room who will get angry. But I find it to be a really fun letting go of responsibility.”
A Letting-Go-Of-Responsibility Room? Now you’re talking!
Step into the cage
Jaclyn and I chose the Let’s Rage package, which provided us with 26 random items to break and one large item that we could choose.
In homage to a certain scene in the movie “Office Space,” we chose a printer.
“We hear ‘Office Space’ referenced often,” Greutman said.
Even I can admit that I have gotten angry in the past at errant printers and copiers.
If you have old stuff at home that you are angry at, All the Rage allows you to bring it in and exact revenge on it.
But you should exercise good judgment.
For example, you might prefer to give up your grudge against those old bottles of Nitroglycerine in the shed.
All the Rage gets its items from area thrift stores with which it has forged agreements, Greutman said.
Some rage rooms across the country allow patrons to tape a photo or drawing of someone they are angry at onto an object slated for destruction, but All the Rage doesn’t want to get into that.
“A lot of rage rooms do allow patrons to do that,” Greutman said. “But we have a strict non-violence-against-others policy.”
Before you enter a rage room, you have to dress up in what Greutman calls “marshmallow suits.”
In our marshmallow suits, cut-resistant rubber gloves and protective headgear, we looked like we were “about to go make some meth,” according to Jaclyn.
Let me assure you that we have no first-hand knowledge of that activity.
Patrons can choose whatever music they want to listen to while they are raging.
I tried to find a funk playlist on Spotify, but inadvertently chose a slow jam mix instead.
Word to the wise: You will laugh too hard to be able to swing a bat if you try to destroy property against an aural backdrop of Luther Vandross.
Speaking of (baseball) bats, that was my weapon-of-choice. Jaclyn chose a golf club.
Maybe it is because we’re wimps, but we quickly came to realize that breaking things is harder than it seems.
Nothing we threw against the wall broke.
Some items even resisted several initial bat whacks.
Jaclyn found her greatest satisfaction in jackhammering shards of things that I had already taken a crack at.
We had a good time, but I must be unflinchingly honest here and reveal that I wasn’t able to shake a certain ambivalence.
I felt bad breaking cups and dishes that were undeniably ugly, but which still had decades’ worth of use in them.
In fact, I asked Greutman if I could take an item home intact: a ceramic gingerbread house of the sort that might (and will again) adorn a table at Christmas.
What can I say? I am a softie.
For people who actually have some steam to work off, All the Rage provides a perfect outlet.
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