I tried… Smash Therapy
I tried… Smash Therapy
It’s Friday night. I’m heading out to one of Sydney’s new, trendy hotspots. But it’s not a bar or a restaurant. Instead, I’m making my way to Smash Brothers, Sydney’s first ever ‘rage room’.
Rage rooms are enjoying a bit of a boom. The idea is to get decked out in protective clothing, go into an enclosed space and then smash up a collection of crockery, glass and household goods (think laptops, fridges and printers) with a baseball bat. Essentially, it’s a safe way to get any festering anger or frustration
out of your system.
Although rage rooms might sound a bit niche, they’re actually surprisingly popular. They’ve been around in the US for a while, and now they’re rapidly growing in popularity in Australasia. In just the past year, they’ve popped up in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Auckland and Tauranga.
I’m not feeling particularly angry when I arrive at Smash Brothers’ inner city warehouse. But with thumping heavy metal pumping and the promise of a baseball bat in my hands, I’m sure I can find some ragespiration.
Friends Johnny Li and Russell Dunn started Smash Brothers as a pop-up shop earlier this year. “It was so popular that we decided to look for permanent premises,” Li tells me as he hands over a pair of heavy-duty navy blue overalls.
Interestingly, the vast majority of their customers are women. “I think it’s more socially acceptable for men to be angry,” says Dunn. “Women feel like they’re not allowed to get angry, so when they come here, they have a chance to let it go.”
After fitting me with a protective face shield, Li gives me a box of ‘smashables’ and shows me into my room. “You’ve got 10 minutes,” he says, before running me through the ground rules. Don’t cross the yellow line (painted on the floor). You can throw things at the wall, but be careful as they’ll bounce back as they shatter.
“You can hit the fridge as much as you like,” Li adds with a cheerful smile, as he closes the door.
I start cautiously. I place a glass on a specially-made stand and take a swing. The glass shatters and sends shards flying. It’s extremely satisfying. I bring to mind things that make me angry as I work my way through the box of breakables.
Then I take a swing at the battered fridge. I’m suddenly filled with an image of my own kitchen – all of my resentment at shouldering the domestic load suddenly bubbles up. The fridge gets it. Bash. Bash. Bash.
I surprise myself – I’ve put some decent dents in the fridge, and my blood is pumping. A side effect of the rage room is that it gives you a pretty decent work-out.
After 10 minutes, when it’s time to leave the room, I’m buzzing. But does that mean the experience had a positive effect on me? I ask Associate Professor Joann Lukins, a psychologist at James Cook University, Townsville, whether she thinks rage rooms have any health benefits.
“It is certainly healthy for us to express anger appropriately,” she says. Lukins goes on to say that rage rooms are adrenaline-inducing – which is probably why I came out buzzing. But are they a good thing? While Lukins says it’s beneficial for us to have an outlet for our emotions, she suspects rage rooms are a bit of a fad.
As for me, I’m not sure that I’ll be a regular at Smash Brothers – but I can definitely see myself booking in for another go. In the meantime, I don’t think I’ll ever look at my fridge in the same way again.
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