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This year, instead of decking the halls with boughs of holly, the Billy Penn newsroom decided to deck them with utter destruction.
For our office holiday party we booked a session at Rage Room Philadelphia — and spent the evening gleefully swinging bats at VCR tapes, slamming keyboards with sledgehammers, shattering plates into smithereens and otherwise getting out our stress and aggression on boxes of breakables.
Rage rooms are a fairly new trend, and a handful have popped up across the nation. The one we went to in West Philadelphia is thus far the only permanent place to get your wrecking fix in this city.
The business, housed in a wood-paneled suite within a mixed-used, semi-abandoned industrial building just off 55th and Baltimore, is run by 42-year-old Kea Tull and her daughter. Together, they ensure that clients who participate in the obliteration of statuettes, plasma screens, playsets and pasta strainers don’t get hurt as they smash away — and also keep customers working hard with enthusiastic exhortations to “turn it into crumbs!”
Tull’s daughter, 20-year-old Nyerera Jordan, was the one who initially came up with the idea. “It was something fun that I had wanted to do … ever since I found out about these types of rooms in Texas,” said Jordan, who was attending college there.
Once she told her mom, who also operates a party business, Tull ran with it, and Jordan, who was already planning on taking some time off to focus on her mental health, decided partnering up would be a good way to stay occupied. The duo did a lot of research, Jordan said, in order to make sure people don’t accidentally get hurt, and then opened for business in late summer.
They’ve done minimal marketing so far, relying mostly on word of mouth, but the room’s popularity is growing. With good reason — it’s fun.
Here are 10 things to know if you want to try it out for yourself.
1) Plan in advance
Reservations are required, and can be made up to two weeks prior to your desired smash date. Only two people are allowed in the rage area at once, so if you go with a group, an even number is helpful (18 and older only).
2) Dress for protection
You’ll be given disposable coveralls, hardhats, mesh face masks, protective vests, goggles and lightweight work gloves to don before you start breaking stuff to bits, but it’s also helpful to wear long sleeves and pants underneath. Also wear shoes with good grip — the mess that quickly accumulates on the floor can get slippery.
3) Consider ear plugs
If your ears are sensitive to clashes and bangs, or if you easily get migraines, bringing your own earplugs may help. The loud sounds didn’t seem to have any effect on Tull, who spends the whole time cheering from the sidelines, but Jordan looked like she could use a nice dose of Bose silence.
4) Make a playlist
Background music is also provided, and while Tull and Jordan came up with a great set of crash-happy songs, they’ll also put on your playlist. We’ve all got songs that give us instant mean-mug faces and the feeling of Popeye-level brawn
5) You can BYOJ
Most of the junk used comes from Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Grays Ferry, Jordan said — she and Tull are considering moving the whole operation closer to that in the future — but you’re also welcome to bring your own. If you’ve got old computers, printers, plates, glasses, chairs, globes that you’re willing to submit for total annihilation, that helps keep inventory up.
6) Expect to sweat
Bring a towel. You’re going to sweat. After satisfyingly hitting stuff with your chosen tool of destruction with all of your might and furor, you’ll feel as if you’ve just stepped out of a sauna. I went in for a full 30 minutes, and by the end was pretty drenched with the fruits of my labor. I did not smell particularly lovely — but it sure felt good.
7) This is not an alternative to therapy
Though the experience felt therapeutic, Jordan stressed rage rooms are not alternatives to therapy, nor does its existence justify violent and toxic coping strategies. “I want people to take care of themselves and to not think that breaking stuff, outside of this type of environment, is fine,” she said. “This is just a way to channel pent-up negative energy and just release it.”
8) Choose your tools wisely
You’ve only got a handful of minutes in the destruction arena, so you’ll want to make good use of the available tools — golf club, shovel, hammer, bat. But also, don’t think too much and don’t get fixated on trying to tear down one object. There’s plenty more where that came from.
9) Be aware of your partner
It’s not always easy once you’re wrapped up in a face mask and goggles, but make sure you can communicate with the other person who’s playing Godzilla with you. There’s a big table in the middle and two walls on which to break stuff, and you don’t want to get hit with shards flying out.
10) Cool down with a drink afterwards
There’s no alcohol allowed on the premises, Tull stressed, for obvious reasons. But afterwards you might be ready for a drink. We headed to Dock Street Cannery and Lounge, just a couple blocks down the road.
Rage Room Philadelphia is located at 845 S. 55th St., Suite 223, and is open from Thursday to Saturday, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Session options are as follows:
Fast n Furious (5 minutes)
- (1 person)- $25-includes 1 bucket of small breakable items.
- (2 people)- $50 includes 2 buckets of small breakable items.
- 2 songs of your choice.
Raging Bull (15 minutes)
- (1 person)- $35-includes 1 bucket of small breakables, 1 medium breakable, 1 small electronic.
- (2 people)- $70- includes 2 buckets of small breakables, 2 medium breakables, 2 small electronics.
- 4 songs of your choice.
Savage Beast Mode (25 minutes)
- (1 person)- $45-includes 10 small breakables, 2 medium breakables, 1 small electronic, 1 medium electronic & 1 large breakable.
- (2 people)- $90-includes 20 small breakables, 2 medium breakables, 2 small electronics, 1 large breakable.
- 6 songs of your choice.