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Can You Achieve Nirvana by Annihilating Old Junk?

At Chicago’s first rage room, patrons bash dated electronics to de-stress.

I’m not a particularly angry person, but on the day I go to the Escapades Chicago Rage Room — literally a place where you can de-stress by smashing old electronics into smithereens — it’s an unbearable 90 degrees and I’ve spent the afternoon on the receiving end of multiple toddler temper tantrums. So I emerge from the Grand Red Line station fully primed, with a last-­minute assist from a trolleyful of drunk 20-somethings belting out Demi Lovato lyrics.

It’s become trendy to pay to demolish stuff (The Bachelorette’s Becca Kufrin even visited a rage room in a recent episode), but this River North spot is the first such place in the city. When I arrive, Roosevelt, a huge dude with a bodyguard build, instructs me to choose up to three “weapons.” The sledgehammer is pretty heavy, so I opt for a crowbar, baseball bat, and golf club. Next up: picking a machine to rage against. The $15 it cost to book my 30-minute appointment entitles me to an old stereo or computer (sans monitor). For another $20 I can obliterate a ’90s-era tube TV instead. Done. I want the satisfaction of shattering glass. Finally, before putting on the required leather jacket, gloves, and facemask, I have to select a soundtrack. My music tastes lean more Hamilton than Metallica, so I defer to Roosevelt, who goes with the appropriately ragey metal bands System of a Down and DragonForce.

My first few swings of the crowbar in the debris-filled room, which is about the size of my daughter’s bedroom, feel forced. Roosevelt supervises me through a caged window, and while that makes sense for safety reasons, violently releasing your rage is strangely personal. I dread how he might judge me afterward. “Some ex must have really pissed you off,” I imagine him saying. But with DragonForce blasting, my inhibitions soon evaporate. I crush the glass with my crowbar before taking the bat to a plastic frame and the golf club to a circuit board. The experience is almost meditative, me against the TV. I don’t stop until there is nothing left — glass, plastic, and metal strewn in all directions — and I am dripping in sweat. There is something deeply satisfying, it turns out, about annihilating old trash.

I leave after 19 minutes of raging (most ragers only last 10, Roosevelt tells me), with sore arms and a T-shirt that has been soaked through. Thankfully, Roosevelt makes no “bitter ex” remark and instead says that he figured I got a runner’s high during my smash session. He’s right.

I’m still on that high as I leave the place — right up until I get stuck behind a crowd of slow walkers.

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