Smash Room in Clearwater, Florida

From behind my protective headgear, I surveyed the cement room. A small wooden table with a glass top waited for me next to a white nightstand in the middle of the room. I faced a colorfully-splattered cement wall. A blue plastic barrel stood in one corner and a large black piece of furniture with drawers had been placed in the other. A black plastic tub filled with glasses, dishes and porcelain sat on the floor in front of the wall behind me. The wall adjacent the blue barrel was lined with golf clubs, baseball bats and sledgehammers. I picked up a heavy yellow sledgehammer, took a deep breath and waited for my playlist to start.

Inside the Smash Box 20 in Clearwater, Florida

I had been experiencing some residual feelings from my divorce, namely hurt, betrayal and anger. These strong emotions were causing my anxiety to grow in both frequency and strength and I knew I needed to do something. At some point during my divorce recovery, I considered going to a smash room (also called a rage room), in hopes that it might help go through my anger phase. After grappling with painful emotions for two years, I thought it was time to let them go.

All geared up – the before picture at Smash Box 20 in Clearwater, Florida

So, I booked a 20 minute session at Smash Box 20 in Clearwater, Florida. I parked and walked in not entirely sure what to expect. The owner met me at the door and helped me get suited up. I was given a gray jumper, a chest protector connected by velcro on the sides, hearty gloves and a helmet attached via a chin strap and a transparent face shield.

The owner reviewed the rules…

After being suited up, I was taken to the actual smash room, which was about the size of a two car garage. She introduced me to the space, showing me a black tub of “breakables” (glassware and ceramics – mostly small dishes and figurines) as well as my weapon of choice: sledgehammers, baseball bats or golf clubs.

The room was made of a cement floor and cement walls and you could throw breakables against the wall. There were also two large blue plastic barrels and I was told that smashing breakables on them gave you a “satisfying sound effect” and it was quite effective in smashing ceramics to bits. A punching bag was in the opposite corner.

I was scared to unleash painful emotions, but I knew it was the only way to get rid of them.

I honestly shared with the owner that I had been terrified to do a smash room session, explaining that I was afraid I might unleash some part of me that I was unaware of that I couldn’t control. I was afraid of “breaking down” in front of someone. I was afraid of being embarrassed. I also wondered how much of a toll a smashroom session might take on my physically as I was rather out of shape. The owner reassured me that it’s ok to “let out your crazy” in the smash room. She said people scream, people cry and that one woman went crazy smashing stuff and then just lay on the floor for awhile.

Deciding what to smash first at the Smash Box 20 in Clearwater, Florida

Let the smashing begin…

When the first song of my playlist started (“You stupid bitch” from Crazy Ex Girlfriend), I slammed the sledgehammer onto the blue barrel, obliterating the piece of ceramic I had placed there. I put all of my distress and pain into that first blow and the simultaneous sound and visual of pieces of ceramic flying felt good. This huge release began my tears.

Megadeth’s “Symphony of Destruction” was next followed by “For whom the bell tolls” and “And justice for all” by Metallica, all chosen to summon the rage in me. I moved on to some of the furniture in the room. I enjoyed smashing a little wooden bedside stand with a glass top.

Sledgehammering a small dresser at the Smash Box 20 in Clearwater, Florida

Not surprisingly, my arms quickly grew tired so I traded the heavy sledgehammer for a much lighter baseball bat. I also threw a few glasses against the wall, but to be honest, I didn’t get the same release as I did with smashing them over the blue barrel.

“Fuck what I said” by Eamon came on. I smashed, I cried, I yelled. But, I was becoming physically exhausted. I had to rest a few times to catch my breath. I was given the five minute warning, so I pushed myself to tackle a large desk in the corner. I switched to the sledgehammer again and gave it my all despite being physically and emotionally spent. With every swing, I let out some sort of curse word, allowing all my painful emotions to surface.

My session ended with Destiny’s Child “Survivor”. I put this song on my playlist in hopes that I would leave the smash room feeling empowered, but to be honest, I was so exhausted that it didn’t turn out this way. But, I did feel proud of myself. I had been scared to do this and I did it anyway.

I sat for a few minutes afterwards behind the mesh to catch my breath and think of my therapist’s advice: whatever comes up for your in the session, make sure to leave it in the smash room. I drank lots of water and read some of the messages on the walls. They were a mix of anger and hope: “I am enough”, “not cleaning when I asked”, “my husband’s a douche”, “I am grateful”, “sisters never call” and “fake people” among so many others. I realized that a lot of pain had been released in this room.

The after picture

I thought about the session as I drove home and I wasn’t sure if it helped. I ended up with a raging headache that lasted for a couple of days, no doubt due to the tension in my muscles. Once, the pain subsided, however, I did notice that my overall anxiety had decreased. In short, I felt better. I decided that I would book a second session (this time only 10 minutes) and my playlist would include all empowering songs.

Useful Information

You can book a 10 minute or a 20 minute session at Smash Box 20 and an extra $7 will get you a video of your time in the smash room. You can also get fun addons, like a block of ice, or pay for extra time. You can smash alone, as a couple or in a group. Be sure to wear closed-toed shoes or boots and I recommend wearing something comfortable that you can easily move in. (And don’t forget to remove your phone from your pocket before suiting up.)

Wondering where all the smash items come from and where they go? The owner accepts donations, but she said 90% of the furniture and breakables come from 1-800 Got Junk. They are happy to give it to her as it helps their job of hauling stuff to the dump. She takes the broken stuff to the dump on the day they are burning so they don’t go into the landfill. Sounds like a win-win.

How I left the Smash Room at Smash Box 20 in Clearwater, Florida

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