I Tried It: A Rage Room “Felt Amazing” for Dealing with Pandemic Wedding Stress

Updated: Jul. 06, 2022

A canceled wedding (thanks to the pandemic) brought this bride to her breaking point. How did she deal? Well ... by breaking things.

By Desiree Banka Rothenberger, as told to Charlotte Hilton Andersen

I first decided I wanted to go to a “rage room“—a place where you can destroy things as a way of letting out anger—after I saw one on a reality show. But it wasn’t until the Covid-19 pandemic hit that I suddenly needed to try one. What had simply looked like it might be fun now appealed to me on a much deeper level …

Covid-19 canceled my wedding.

My then-fiance and I had set our wedding date for March 20, 2020. We were a little older when we met, so we’d both had plenty of time—plus some savings—to dream about the wedding we both wanted. At the start of 2020, we’d planned everything and were counting down the days … then, Covid-19 hit.

Our wedding venue called us and revealed that we’d gained the lucky distinction as the first wedding they officially had to cancel due to coronavirus. Days away from our dream wedding, we were forced to call off everything.

We still got married—and that’s the important part. But, our wedding was a tiny ceremony in my living room with just a handful of people present. I’ll admit it, I was angry. I felt like life had ripped us off.

Still, we were hopeful that would be a small blip; a charming story we’d laugh about for years afterward. However, as everyone now knows, the pandemic went on … and on… and ultimately affected nearly every aspect of our lives. After the wedding and our honeymoon were canceled, we both experienced stressful changes in our jobs. Family members experienced health crises. Any single challenge might have been manageable, but all together, it felt like too much.

(Sound a little familiar? Here are ways to cope in stressful times.)

I reached a breaking point

I began to feel like I was carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders, and I was so exhausted of it. I didn’t want to have to “be strong” anymore. I didn’t want to endure, or look for the silver lining, or smile through the tears, or whatever other platitude we try to encourage each other with when things are hard.

I’d reached my breaking point; I had to find a way to express all I’d been feeling. I wanted to shatter things like my world had been shattered. And I wanted to be able to do it in a way that was safe and would not require me to worry about cleaning up the mess afterward.

My husband came through. Recalling that a rage room had been on my bucket list, he thought it would make an unforgettable birthday gift.

He was right.

The best birthday gift ever

On February 5, 2022, we headed to SMASH*IT Breakroom in Denver, Colorado. The basic package was $86 for 20 minutes. That meant 20 minutes to smash a room that had been pre-set with 20 glass dishes, four small appliances, and one bigger item. We paid an extra $20 to add an old TV to the pile, just because it sounded fun. We also paid $10 each to rent a jumpsuit that covered all of our clothing.

Inside the room, we dressed in hard hats, goggles, and gloves and received safety instructions. Then the staff introduced us to our “wrecking tools” (they didn’t let us call them “weapons!”): They included a variety of golf clubs, bats, large wrenches, hammers, a crow bar, and a tire iron. So that we could turn on the perfect rage-channeling playlist, there was a speaker to plug in our phone and a protective case to cover it.

I smashed a bunch of stuff … and it felt amazing.

At first, we were a little timid, but it didn’t take long before we were going full-out. We discovered that TVs are surprisingly hard to break, even with a metal baseball bat. The air fryer, a vacuum, a VCR, and small bathroom vanity were fun to smash, but the best surprise? The old-school computer printer. I’d forgotten how much I hated printers for all the times they’d run out of ink, mangled my papers in college, or got jammed. That printer became a symbol for years of frustration, and it felt great to just destroy that thing. (Who hasn’t wanted to smash their printer at some point?)

But the most satisfying items to break? The glassware. My husband would “pitch” me a beer bottle or glass, and I’d hit it with the baseball bat. We laughed and cheered and smashed stuff until every last thing was unrecognizably destroyed.

It was such a huge adrenaline rush. For the first time in what seemed like forever, I finally felt in control.

Smash room therapy

Portrait of a young woman cheering while holding a sledgehammer in a gymJay Yuno/Getty Images

After our experience inside the rage room, we got dinner at a heavy metal bar named The Brutal Poodle (it seemed fitting!) and talked. We were amazed at how relaxed and free we both felt. I hadn’t realized how much anger and tension I’d been holding in until I was able to let it all out. Breaking things was so cathartic.

I know I’m not the only one who’s had to deal with a lot of challenges from the pandemic, or even just regular life, and there are a lot of people carrying around a ton of pent-up anger. Maybe we’d all be a bit healthier and happier if rage rooms became a normal thing people do. You can’t control what happens to you, but you can control your reaction. So when it feels like your life is being destroyed, and you can’t stop what’s happening, it can really help to feel like you’re in control of the destruction—even if it means paying to crush a stranger’s old dishes.

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