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Swingers welcome


Walking through the glass double doors of iSmash Rochester in Henrietta, I wasn’t sure what to expect. You hear about these things and wonder at the people who participate, yet curiosity remains.

The hosts had legal documentation to sign and spiels to run through, mere formalities to which I wistfully acquiesced. I donned an assembly-line chic jumpsuit, helmet with face shield, and gloves before being led to a solitary room among many in the sprawling warehouse. There were cameras on the walls and strewn remnants left behind by the ghosts of swingers past.

“Well,” I thought. “Let’s get weird.”

And thus began my first smash room experience.

A box sat before me, filled with fragile objects. Considering what first to break, I landed on an old coffee maker. I picked up a baseball bat and addressed the coffee maker standing innocently on a wooden platform, blissfully unaware of its forthcoming demise.

I swung, decimating something that had faithfully served hot bean water for someone’s extra lift in the morning. After 10 minutes — it was admittedly a bit of a blur — on the field of battle against plates, bowls, glassware, and other outcast kitchenware, I emerged victorious and feeling a little tingly.

“Ok, I get it,” I said aloud to myself.

Rage rooms, smash rooms, and similar establishments have been around since the late 2000s — not here in the US, but we eventually adopted them at our usual sluggish pace of trend grabbing. This is weird because I might’ve thought they’d be a very American thing. I mean, destructive atmospheres in a controlled environment, versus, say, the Labatt-fueled chaos of jumping shirtless through tables at a Bills game?

Rage rooms have given folks a place to unleash some pent-up energy into socially acceptable destruction.

This particular smash room was themed after Gordon Ramsay’s "Kitchen Nightmares," lending a particularly pleasing imaginative setting in which to rearrange one’s mental mise en place. Since kitchens are places where mistakes are firmly scolded (to put it kindly) and order is everything, taking a baseball bat to dishes and throwing wine glasses against walls was about as justifying as watching Gordon Ramsay string together obscenities.

So, whatever the driver of your rage might be, 10 minutes in a smash room is better than nothing, cheaper than therapy, and deliciously cathartic. The Ramsay-themed pop-up may be finished, but iSmash Rochester experiences await seven days a week at the Frontier Commons strip mall on Jefferson Road. Get out there and start swinging.

[Disclaimer: This is not an adequate replacement for therapy, but a wonderful supplement.]

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