It took Smash customer Qiu Siyu just a few sharp blows with a baseball bat to wreck what looked like an old car radio, after which two friends battered telephones, audio speakers, rice cookers and even a mannequin.
All three paid 158 yuan ($23) to spend half an hour in an “anger room” in Beijing, where patrons wearing protective gear use hammers and bats to vent their frustration on household objects while staff play music of their choice in the background.
Qiu, a bespectacled 16-year-old high school student with braces, said she was there to vent anger about school.
“It feels so good when I destroy those bottles and watch them explode,” she said, smiling sweetly. Since the venture opened in September, customers have smashed around 15,000 bottles every month, said 25-year-old Jin Meng, who co-founded Smash with her friends. Not intended to promote violence, Smash aims to help people deal with the pressures of living in big cities like Beijing, Jin said, adding that their target customers are between 20 and 35 years old.
Another customer, Liu Chao, 32, looked relaxed and pleased after his session.
“If you have money, you can smash anything – smash some TVs, computers, wine bottles, furniture, mannequins, but the only thing you can’t do is to smash someone,” said Liu.
Similar ventures already exist in other countries, including the United States.
Jin said around 600 people visit Smash each month.
“A woman brought all her wedding photos here, and she smashed them all. We welcome people to bring their own stuff,” Jin said.
“Every time when we come across cases like this, they affirm our belief that we’ve provided a safe place to let out negative energy. And we are happy for that.”
In Beijing, Jin said her next step is to open a new anger room in a shopping mall where people can take a break from their shopping to smash a bottle or two.