Crash! Boom! Bang! Chennai gets a rage room!
Ever imagined you could find a space where you would be ‘allowed’ to... (correction) ‘encouraged’ to break bottles, TVs, and ceramic plates without a care in the world? Well, Chennai just got one
It wasn’t anything like we had expected. Noise, violence, cacophony — none of it. The walls rather wore silence, pronouncing catharsis. But this was before a 24-year-old young man opened the gate to us, and we walked by a narrow passage before he unlocked the room. Enter Chennai’s first and only Rage Room — the Waaccckkk Arena. But no sooner than we spotted broken bottles hurled in a corner, hammers awaiting their next customer, safety suits waiting to be worn, we knew that this rage room has a story to tell. Nah! It has a great story!
Imagine finding a space where you can break things, just for the heck of it! That’s like hitting the jackpot, ain’t it? Who knew there could ever be a space where you are ‘allowed’ to break bottles, TV sets, ceramic plates, tiles, buckets, et al, without a care in the world! Without being told, ‘Careful, don’t you dare break it’. No matter how we feel — good, bad, happy, sad, low, high, fine or angry — all of us have grown up learning it’s not nice to break things to express an emotion; and leave alone anger for it never finds a room.
But now it has, in Chennai. At the Rage Room, what you feel matters, how you feel matters. Here, you are welcome to smash bottles if that’s what helps you de-stress or feel good, or unwind after an exhausting day at work. You are free to take it up as a fun activity with your friends or partners; and if the sound of breaking glass, or the symphony of hammers is music to your ears, or gets you dancing in excitement, no one is judging you here! In fact, you are encouraged to whack it out, and enjoy doing it! After all, that’s what you are paying for, right?
What is interesting to note, however, is that in less than one month since the Rage Room opened its doors, it’s gone viral and how! Needless to say, the slots are fast filling every day! But Arun Sripal, the 24-year-old young man we mentioned at the start, who is the brain behind and the owner of the Rage Room (in Chennai), tells us that he “didn’t expect this kind of response.” All he wanted to do, he tells us, was to start “something unique that would attract people”. The Rage Room sure has.
Arun, an architect by profession, chanced upon the idea after watching an episode of Brooklyn Nine Nine where they show a similar concept of a rage room. “The idea is to give people time to have some fun, be themselves and not be wary of breaking things. More importantly, the aim is to provide a safe space to break things instead of doing the same in an external environment, which is not a good idea!” he says, adding, “I am trying this as an experiment and so far people are loving it because I think we are finally realising and accepting that anger is not always bad or negative. On the contrary, it’s a healthy release if done in a controlled environment with all precautions and safety measures ensured. Imagine bungee jumping without the rope; it’s lethal! But with rope, it’s an adventure sport. Similarly, breaking things as a way of venting anger in an uncontrolled space is harmful whereas releasing that emotion by breaking things in a closed safe place, is healthy. And by things, I mean only glass bottles, TVs, ceramic plates, because that’s what we provide. Nothing huge or big, nothing that can’t be recycled.”
Though Rage Room is not a new concept, with cities like Indore, Hyderabad and Bengaluru already having their own (there’s one that has just opened in Madurai), Arun was told that a rage room won’t work in Chennai. Really? The reception this space has been receiving tells a different story! We speak to counselling psychologist and relationship counseller Dr Sangeetha Makesh, to understand why Rage Room has turned into such a rage with people here. “We tend to label emotions, and declare anger as a negative emotion. So, from a socially appropriate perspective, there is absolutely no permission to get angry. And I do think we have failed to compartmentalise whether you should not get angry at all or you should regulate your anger in terms of socially approved ways of expressing that anger. It’s in human nature to get angry, but the way we propagate it — as a wrong emotion — forces people to bottle up, which eventually results in more and more people trying to engage in activities that make them feel liberated.” Sangeetha explains.
Talking about Rage Room as a space for catharsis, Sangeetha further shares, “I do think it is a novel idea; it is a safe place where pent up anger can be released in a restricted setup, and there is nothing like breaking/destroying to release anger! In that sense, for emotional catharsis of anger, a Rage Room is good.” However, like with any other phenomenon, there are pros and cons to this. “The intention is good, no doubt, but with time, people will become sensitised to what feels like a whole new experience right now. Once familiarity creeps in, the brain is not going to get excited anymore. So then, this Rage Room could end up becoming a place where people are coming only for the catharsis of their real anger, and that is where we have to be careful. To effectively handle situations, it will be better to have a mental health professional as an employee,” Sangeetha suggests.
Counselling psychologist Harshini opines that a Rage Room “is a healthy space”, explaining, “As a professional psychologist, I have observed that in Chennai, people hardly seek help for any emotional issues they face. But let’s accept that most of us have issues that we find difficult to deal with. With a Rage Room, I think people have found a space where they can vent, and through it, they can be advised to reach out to psychologists. So, I think, with proper monitoring, Rage Room should do more good than harm.”
Arun agrees, and tells us that he is “learning every single day, after interactions with every single client, that there’s a lot of work to be done.” “I understand this unleashing of anger if done in moderation is healthy, but too much of it isn’t good. I am just glad that till now I haven’t had anyone who came here with real anger issues, but if we have them in the future, I am getting prepared. I am in talks with counselors and therapists, and would like to recommend people to them.”
While the Rage Room has gained immense popularity, it has also garnered comments that have made Arun think. “People have commented: ‘Breaking things is not the right way to process things’. I agree, and we never claimed that. Instead, we are saying this could help.”
The Rage Room is not just addressing the issues of anger, its main aim is for people to come and have some fun time breaking things. Moreover, Arun is also utilising the space towards a more sustainable way of functioning. All the materials that are available for breaking at the Rage Room are recycled. “I get my materials from the scraps, and once they are broken, I send them back for recycling. In fact, I want to eventually initiate a process whereby I can turn the broken ceramics into sand and then make pots out of them, and use those again for breaking.”
Forty-five minutes is what you get inside the Rage Room to vent it all out, and Arun tells us that people usually finish breaking things in 10 minutes; after which they dance, make videos and click pictures. “Watching them gives me joy,” says Arun.
Also, before you get busy to boom, bang, crash, your safety is taken care of — there is a suit you have to wear, complete with helmet, face shield, glasses and gloves — and you are all set to pick up that hammer and rage on!
Safety first. Check.
• CCTV cameras
• Checking in on clients
every 5-10 minutes
• Clear the floor every
• Single person not allowed in
• No two strangers allowed inside
• First aid
Prices: Rs 480 and Rs 680 (plus food).
Slots available from 1 pm to 7 pm.
At Moonbow & Rage Room,