The 'Anger Room': The new way to blow off steam after work

The Week's Editorial Staff
The Week

Let's face it: Some days you leave work wanting to throw, punch, and break things. If you live in Dallas, you can — for a small fee, of course

While stress is an unfortunate and unhealthy part of modern life, going on a destructive rampage isn't usually a socially acceptable way of dealing with it. Enter the Anger Room, an inconspicuous storefront in a Dallas strip mall where fed-up Americans can act out. Inside, proprietor and founder Donna Alexander and her staff offer up rooms of stuff — TVs, office furniture, glassware — for patrons to smash. (Watch a therapeutic session below.) Here, a brief guide:

How does the Anger Room work?
The rooms are filled with donated or found items from garage sales or dumpsters. When you show up, you pick how much time you want in a room: A five-minute "I Need a Break" session is $25; a 15-minute "Lash Out" booking is $45; and 25 minutes of "Total Demolition" will set you back $75. Then you pick a soundtrack for your rage or revenge fantasy, grab a baseball bat, and go in and smash away. "Five minutes may not seem like a long time," says Grant V. Ziegler in the Irving, Texas, News-Register, "but I was so exhausted from smashing everything after four minutes, I couldn't even finish my full session."

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Where did this idea come from?
Alexander, 30, dreamed up the idea at age 16, in Chicago. "I felt there needed to be a place for people to put holes in walls and release pent-up aggression safely without public humiliation or repercussions," she tells the News-Register. Upon moving to Dallas in 2002, she started testing the first incarnation in her garage. It took off, to the point where "I had strangers showing up at my house," she tells ABC News. "So I said I have to find a real legit place." It took a few years to find a landlord who was cool with her business model.

Who frequents the Anger Room?
"Normal 9-to-5ers," mostly, Alexander tells ABC News. "We get a lot of high-level executives, people who own their own businesses. They come from all walks of life." At least half of clients are women, and those who aren't blowing off steam after a day with the kids or at the office are dealing with relationship issues. Such women usually target mannequins  — they "put pictures on them, write on them, and then they try to beat the crap out of them."

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Is this safe?
Customers are outfitted in hard hats and protective goggles, and all must sign a legal waiver. Plus, there are some rules: Baseball bats and golf clubs are okay, chainsaws and machetes are not. Alexander says she also discourages people from ripping wires out of the wall.

Is it really therapeutic?
Yes, says the News-Register's Ziegler. "The experience was exhilarating. My arms, shoulders, hands, and back ached for a week, but the hurt felt good. It was good exercise and unexpectedly relaxing." And if you go, let them videotape you, Ziegler adds. "Watching yourself exact some rage is a pretty awesome experience." It's also a good way to stay out of trouble, a 25-year-old man tells Dallas TV station WFAA. "Stuff that you can't do to other people, you can do here," he says. "I can't afford going to the psychiatrist, but I can afford this."

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Sources: ABC News, Anger Room, Irving (Texas) News-Register, TIME, WFAA

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