Let off steam amid the visceral thrills of a Fort Lauderdale “rage room”
“Break Shit, Leave Happy.” That’s the blunt slogan of Wreck It Fort Laudy, the only South Florida rage room north of Miami.
The concept is simple, and incomparably satisfying. Ragers enter a room and, with the aid of an array of blunt weapons, destroy a selection of objects: dead computer hardware, housewares, bottles. Then they go home, adrenalized and dopamine’d.
Rage rooms began circa 2008 in Japan, and have been slowly bashing their way through the globe, opening across Europe and South America before unleashing havoc on the U.S.
“We look at it like a cathartic experience, something that otherwise, in most lights, would be looked down on—like breaking a plate in your kitchen if you’re mad,” says Connor Gonzales, who started Wreck it Fort Laudy in 2019 with two business partners. “At the same time, it doesn’t have to be direct in that sense. You can come here as a simple date night, if you want to think outside the box.”
“We’ve had people come after someone passed away, or they got fired. We had a divorce party a couple weeks ago,” adds co-founder Ricky Ballester. “But nine times out of 10, people just come here because it’s fun to break stuff.”
My wife and I tried Wreck It late last year. The business is discreetly tucked away in an Oakland Park strip mall. After signing the inevitable waiver, we suited up in our safety togs, faded blue body suits, gloves and face masks that made us look like overprotected sanitation workers—or foot soldiers in a dystopian police state.
The rage room itself had a mountain of crushed glass, ceramic and plastic piled in a corner, as if a tornado had swept through a Walmart—debris from three days’ worth of ragers. We had 35 minutes to pulverize our inventory: antiquated PC monitors, old iPod charging stations, beer bottles, ceramic plates.
Wreck It supplies a faux tree stump in the middle of the room, which makes for an ideal spot to place your victims. You haven’t quite lived, dear reader, until you’ve swung a hammer upon a keyboard and watched its numbers and letters burst into the air like so much popcorn.
Or tossed an unfortunate dinner plate like a discus thrower, reveling in the thrilling ca-chink of its fatal landing. Skilled ragers toss bottles into the air and break them aloft, but I’m no sportsman, so every time I tried resulted in a swing and a miss. Still, we didn’t want to stop until all the monitors, vases and keyboards were destroyed. We finished earlier than our allotted time, leaving the staff to clean up our mess, feeling like we were The Who in some godforsaken hotel room in 1968.
If I return, I would pick different music than the dreamy folk-pop I chose. I should have gone with the Teutonic thunder of Rammstein. Then, just maybe, I would have been able to crush those Bud Lites in mid-air.