Rage rooms can help you demolish your stress without consequence

By Patricia Benitez

Adelina San Miguel is gripping a sledgehammer, her weapon of choice. In front of her, six glass plates sit on top of an oil drum.

“Just let it all out,” she thinks to herself.

She grits her teeth and pounds the sledgehammer against the plates, sending shards of glass flying and crashing onto the concrete floor.

“Oh yeah!” she yells with a smile flashing across her face.

The microwave is her next victim. She grabs it and slams it on the floor. She swings and pounds and thrusts the sledgehammer against it. Miley Cyrus’ cover of “Heart of Glass” blares to the beat of San Miguel’s throbbing pulse. Within minutes, the microwave resembled a flattened car in a junkyard.

The wooden walls around San Miguel are coated with red and black graffiti. She bounces around the small room, demolishing objects one by one, shattering Christmas ornaments, cracking a car windshield and smacking more plates with a bat.

The cacophony of shattering glass and clanging metal should make San Miguel cringe. But here, breaking things isn’t only allowed, it’s the objective.

Paying to Rage

San Miguel is in a rage room, a place where people pay to destroy items such as plates, televisions, windshields and more to unleash their anger or relieve stress. A rage room session can cost customers anywhere from $25 to $300, depending on how much time they want in the room and the number of objects they wish to destroy. Some people bring in their own items while others let the business owners provide them with the community’s donations of unwanted objects.

After putting on goggles, gloves and an industrial suit for protection, customers can choose from an arsenal of tools or “weapons.” Then, they destroy everything in the room. And the best part? No consequences and no clean up.

Rage Rooms: An Unproductive Outlet?

Jonathan Abramowitz, clinical psychologist and professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, had never heard of rage rooms until recently, but is open to the concept as a temporary stress reliever.

“It can’t hurt,” Abramowitz said. “It might make the person feel better in the moment, but it also doesn’t take care of the problem that’s causing the anger.”

For San Miguel, her decision to try a rage room was inspired by a conversation with her psychologist.

“I need to smash a microwave,” San Miguel said to her psychologist who later encouraged her to actually smash one in a rage room, which provides a safe and fun environment.

San Miguel felt as if the isolation during the pandemic had changed her in the same, forceful way that a sledgehammer disfigures a microwave. She was also experiencing heightened anxiety and frustration due to someone owing her money for weeks.

San Miguel is a pole vaulter, so she needed something more stress relieving than lifting weights in the gym. She figured that smashing objects with a sledgehammer for 30 minutes would be intense enough.

That’s when she booked a session at Wreck it Rage Room in Durham, North Carolina. Customers can play their own music in rage rooms, so she spent days adding motivational songs to her “Hard Hitters” playlist before her session.

Now, after 25 minutes of slinging the sledgehammer, her back muscles beg for mercy. But San Miguel isn’t done yet. She bangs her head to the beat of Childish Gambino’s “Bonfire” and puts a couple final dents in the microwave. Then she drops the sledgehammer, done with her session.

All that remains is a battlefield of smashed metal, shattered glass and an industrial jumpsuit soaked in San Miguel’s sweat.

As Abramowitz inferred, San Miguel knew her rage room session wouldn’t solve any of her problems. It didn’t put the money in her hand nor did it end the constant feeling of isolation during a pandemic. But in the moment, she felt light and euphoric.

“You will definitely see me again soon,” San Miguel said to Kasey Taylor, owner of Wreck it Rage Room.

An Unconventional Business Idea

When San Miguel left, Taylor and her two brothers cleaned up the debris with rakes and snow shovels. Taylor doesn’t mind cleaning up after her customers. She knows the importance of releasing anger without worrying about the mess.

After being on dialysis for six years and parenting as a single mom, Taylor longed for a way to psychically release her frustration. She’s not a talker when it comes to her emotions, so she tried a rage room and was fascinated with the concept.

“Where can you go to just shatter a bunch of plates and not get in trouble for it?” Taylor said.

After researching the logistics of owning a rage room, she opened her own. While some of her customers such as San Miguel book solo sessions, others bring their friends to collectively smash objects. Rage rooms can usually host as many as 10 people.

Rage Bringing People Together

Kate-Eliza Dean was invited to a rage room session with two of her friends on a Sunday afternoon. During the session, Dean’s friends stood back as she used a crowbar to smash a car windshield.

“Yeah girl, get it!” one of her friends yelled.

“Smash it!” the other added.

 She felt as if she was living her fantasy of destroying an ex-boyfriend’s windshield.

After they each took a turn hitting the windshield, they annihilated the white microwave together. The room began to smell of thick sweat and chaos.

“We’re women against microwaves!” Dean said. They all bursted into laughter as they attacked the microwave from all angles with their weapons.

When they finished, sweat and relief oozed out of them from every pore. “It’s like a level up from a workout,” Dean said, “Just a huge stress reliever.”

Whether people are breaking items solo or with a group, they can at least say they have demolished a microwave once in their lifetime.

“If you have never smashed a microwave,” San Miguel said, “It will change your life.”

Edited by Katie Bowes and Jorelle Trinity


Drive-thrus banned from Franklin St. yet UNC students crave Cook Out

By Caroline Bowersox 

If there’s one thing a college student loves, it’s a late-night meal. The beauty of greasy, salty, high calorie food after a long night of studying or bar hopping is unparalleled. In Chapel Hill most restaurants only stay open until midnight, leaving UNC-Chapel Hill students hungry when 2 or 3 a.m. rolls around.

One restaurant may exist as a beacon of hope. Cook Out is a North Carolina-based fast-food chain with a drive-thru that stays open until as late as 4 a.m. on weekends. So tired from studying for hours in Davis Library that you can’t fathom cooking a meal for yourself? Cook Out has your back! Tired of rushing to Cosmic Cantina before it closes at midnight and being stuck with eating another burrito? With an expansive menu offering hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, barbecue, quesadillas, wraps, many fried side dishes, and more than 40 different milkshake flavors, Cook Out has several options that can satisfy whatever your taste buds are craving. 

If only opening a drive-thru in Chapel Hill wasn’t so difficult.

Why isn’t there a Cook Out in Chapel Hill?

In 1998, Chapel Hill enacted an ordinance that barred new drive-thrus from being built without applying for the Special Use Permit beforehand.

Drive-thru restaurants have successfully been implemented in the Carraway Village shopping center and on Fordham Boulevard, but these locations are miles away from the university’s campus. According to Josh Mayo, a transportation planner for the town of Chapel Hill, it is unlikely that the town’s government will allow a drive-thru to be built in the 500 or lower block of Franklin Street, the section of the street that is closest to the campus.

“If I was going to put a fast food drive-thru on Franklin, that wouldn’t be in harmony with the area,” Mayo said. The town government values the walkability of Franklin Street, and putting in a drive-thru would disrupt that. 

The Special Use permitting process can take many years. The Dunkin’ Donuts franchise on East Franklin Street has been in the process with the Town Council to have its drive-thru plans approved since 2019.

 “It’s kind of long, it’s expensive, you have to get consultants and plans drawn up, and you have to have someone present in front of the council, and a lot of time and effort goes into it, so there’s a bit of a barrier there,” Mayo said.

As of 2021, there are no Cook Out locations in the entirety of Orange County, forcing Chapel Hill residents to travel into Durham (enemy territory!) for their late-night munchies fix.

“Bring Cook Out to Franklin Street!”

One night in the spring of 2018, Spencer Zachary was holed up in the library with some friends. The sophomore political science major was supposed to be studying for final exams, but instead he was focused on developing Chapel Hill’s next great business idea.

“I was just trying to pass an hour or two while studying,” Zachary said. That night, he created a Change.org petition titled “Bring Cook Out to Franklin Street! 

“It kind of just started as a joke,” he said, “But every good joke starts with a little bit of inkling of truth that maybe it could actually happen.”

Spanky’s Bar and Restaurant, located at the intersection of Franklin Street and Columbia Street, had recently closed its doors, leaving a prime piece of real estate available just a short walk from campus. Zachary saw an opportunity to provide what many UNC-Chapel Hill students had long yearned for: a walk-in Cook Out.

Zachary didn’t expect his petition to get many signatures. But as the semester went on, the petition amassed over 1,500 signatures. Students commented things like, “Now this is the change we all need,” and “Every college campus needs a Cook Out.”

After his petition picked up steam, Zachary was featured on the Carolina Insider podcast. Eventually, Cook Out, Inc. got word of the petition and posted about it on Twitter.

At the heart of it all was a nostalgia seeking, small town kid from Western North Carolina. “In the town that I grew up in, it was almost like going to Cook Out was a small event,” he said, “Everyone would pile in a car and we would go get Cook Out.”

Considering that Cook Out is special to the state of North Carolina, it is difficult to see why UNC-CH doesn’t have its own location.

 “It’s definitely a part of North Carolina lore that the big three restaurants are Cook Out, Bojangles, and Krispy Kreme,” Zachary said, “It’s like the Holy Trinity.”

A relationship built on milkshakes

When Emma Smith was a sophomore at UNC-CH, she and her best friend made a habit of staying up into the wee hours of the morning to study. After combing through page after page of biology homework, the two had a tradition to drive into Durham, for Cook Out milkshakes. Smith would always mix-and-match the flavors to make a chocolate banana pudding milkshake, and they would sit and talk for hours.

“Cook Out is sort of a liminal space,” Smith said, “That combination of talking with your best friend and being there late at night makes time fly by so fast.” 

After a year or two of making regular Cook Out trips together, the pair started dating, and have been together for three years now. Smith frequently jokes with her partner about the times they talked for hours over milkshakes in undergrad. “We should’ve known we were supposed to be together,” she said.

Smith’s relationship status has changed since her nightly Cook Out trips sophomore year, and her milkshake order has been updated too. “I get a caramel Butterfinger shake now,” she said, “The flavor is a game-changer for me.”

Edited by Katie Bowes and Jorelle Trinity