By the time March 2020 reared its ugly head, Therapy Rage Room owner Charlynn Robinson had already experienced a string of personal tragedies and major life changes.
After moving and renovating her new kitchen, she took a sledgehammer to the cabinets.
“All that demolition and destruction felt good,” she said. “It gave me an outlet, another way to process.”
Exactly one year later, Robinson established the Therapy Rage Room in Mechanicsburg. The venue has a true party flow and a family vibe, with bold colors that embrace the chaos. You can make a huge mess, destroy everything in sight with provided implements of destruction, and someone else cleans up after you.
“The act of letting yourself go physically feels mentally cathartic,” she said.
Rage rooms are literally and figuratively all the rage.
They are trending hot for both adult and teen pop culture, making appearances on prime time, talk shows and TikTok. Visitors often travel to Mechanicsburg from out-of-state just to have the full rage room experience. Indeed, the importance of maintaining mental health is rising in popularity, although that movement arrived late to the party, in this writer’s opinion.
Some visit Therapy Rage Room specifically to work out their mental and emotional traumas, but most don’t.
“The majority of customers aren’t angry,” she said. “Most aren’t sure they’ll like it at first. They come with a group, just to be sociable.”
When they emerge half an hour later, Robinson usually hears people say, “I needed that,” or “I didn’t know how good this would feel.”
You and your demo crew can choose the theme for your personalized rage room, which staff will set up for you. You can grab a sledgehammer and smash a room full of furniture. You can swing a baseball bat at an old VCR. There’s even an option to BYOB, which means “Bring Your Own Breakables.”
I have a hutch full of hobnail milk glassware from Great Aunt Jean that’s just begging to connect with the rage room’s set of golf clubs.
Even if you’re not bringing your own smashables, you can leave donations outside the facility, adjacent to the dented car that serves as another party theme. Donations comprise almost 90% of the rage room’s inventory, with the other 10% invested in sturdy safety gear and an array of weaponry. (My favorite weapon is the mutilated frying pan. Andy Capp, anyone?)
When I visited the Therapy Rage Room, I donated an old printer that never worked right and never will, thanks to obsolete software and a thick layer of dust. If you’ve ever seen the cult classic movie, “Office Space,” you know the legendary scene in which the main characters hold a ceremonial smashing of the printer to hardcore rap. My years-long former frustration will now be someone else’s wild Friday night.
“You can bring a picture of your boss, ex-husband, something you’re letting go of,” Robinson said.
Throwing things represents another form of release. You could splatter paint over every inch of the paint room, and coat your date in the process. Black lights make the paint glow for a satisfying ASMR experience. Or you could throw the first scoop of shepherd’s pie in an old-fashioned middle school cafeteria food fight. That idea came from one of Therapy Rage Room’s customers.
If you’re too dainty to grab a paint can or bowling bag, you can participate in passive aggression or watch someone else smash things from the TV in the lobby.
Some special communities of visitors have more to be angry about than most, and they receive a special discount. This includes military, teachers, essential workers, healthcare workers and emergency responders. As a Navy veteran, Robinson feels strongly about giving back to honor the communities who clean up after us.
If only the pandemic were as easy to clean up after as a rage room after a knockdown, drag-out. The staff wipes down all the equipment, launders the coveralls, and tidies the floor with a push broom and a snow shovel.
If you visit the Therapy Rage Room, be sure to book a slot ahead of time so the staff can set up a nice selection of breakables, stock your room with spray paint, or even hang streamers and balloons for your kid’s birthday party (guests aged 5 and older).
“I never ask people why they come here,” Robinson concluded. “That’s personal. If people do want to share their stories, no judgment.”
Therapy Rage Room is located at 5231 Simpson Ferry Rd., Mechanicsburg. For more information, visit www.therapyrageroom.com.
Support quality local journalism. Become a Friend of TheBurg!