In 2002 Donna Alexander, a graphic design student at Westwood College in Dallas, TX, started charging her friends five dollars to come to her home and trash her garage. Word of mouth spread Alexander’s small business until strangers began to line up outside her door. Each one of these customers were looking for just one thing, a sort of cathartic release. In 2011, Alexander established the Anger Room in Dallas, a place where customers pay a small fee to lock themselves in a room and break, smash, demolish, or otherwise ruin everything they can.
A recent article in Bloomberg Businessweek describes Alexander’s Anger Room:
Anger Room customers are offered a selection of baseball bats, golf clubs, tennis rackets, crowbars, and, if they’re feeling particularly creative, mannequin arms and legs. What they do with those weapons is up to them. The Anger Room is equipped with a tantalizing array of non-living things to destroy, like TVs, computer monitors, and office furniture. It’s a controlled environment where customers can freely act like psychopaths, taking out their frustrations on anything within smashing distance.
The experience isn’t quite the free for all temporary psychopaths might expect. All of the Anger Room’s customers must wear hardhats and safety goggles and restrict themselves to the corresponding amount of time they paid for: five-minute “I Need a Break” session ( $25), 15-minute “Lash Out” ($45), or 25-minute “Total Demolition” ($75). Customers seldom last longer than two to three minutes. For anyone who has been in a fight or attempted to destroy everything in sight, they’ll know it’s very tiring work. Oh, and one more rule: No machetes or chainsaws. “I get that question pretty often,” she told Businessweek. “They’re like, ‘Oh, you don’t have any machetes? Can I bring my own? It’s a really nice machete.’ And I have to tell them ‘No! Under no circumstances can you bring a machete in here.’”
The idea first came to Alexander when she was 16 years old growing up in Chicago, IL. “I saw a lot of high school fights and domestic violence,” she told Businessweek. “An Anger Room just made sense. People needed a place to vent without getting in trouble.”
Today the Anger Room sees 240 clients a month to the 3,000-square-foot store in Dallas. It took her three years to find the right place with a willing landlord. With everything in line, Alexander is dominating the destruction market. The Anger Room is optimized to appeal to all people by incorporating model kitchens, living rooms, and replica workplaces filled with big-screen TVs, VCRs, fax machines, plants, and more. The Anger Room is stocked mostly by donation and items purchased at garage sales which means nearly anything you could ever want to destroy could be in the Anger Room.
It’s a far-cry from traditional therapy, but there is no doubt a little release here and there can be massively beneficial for a person’s well being. We all need some safe spaces to let loose.