If you haven’t seen the movie Falling Down, then you’re likely to have at least heard of it. The 1993 flick is memorable for Michael Douglas’ fine portrayal of Bill Owen, a freshly divorced, recently laid-off defense engineer who goes on a violent rampage across Los Angeles.
During Bill’s day of rage, he trashes a convenience store, beats up gang members, freaks out staff and clientele at a fast-food joint by wielding a gun, shoots up a phone box, kills a far-right army surplus supplier and uses a bazooka to blow up a building site. All while wearing a pair of Buddy Holly glasses with short-sleeved shirt and sporting a crew-cut hairstyle.
His beef? Not only has Bill lost his job, his wife and all
faith in society, but also his car’s air conditioning has packed up
while he’s stuck in an almighty traffic jam. That's Bill's tipping point
for setting off on an unplanned spree of brutality.
Of course, witnessing Bill’s meltdown may have been a little less gripping had Douglas’ character decided now might be the right time to start attending yoga class, or chanced upon a half-price offer for a relaxing massage at a day spa. Perhaps even better, if he thought to book in for a few sessions of psychotherapy.
However, it’s unlikely that the lotus position, a session of Shiatsu or seeing a shrink would have helped Bill find his zen. Once he snaps, Falling Down’s lead character enters a destructive downward spiral, with violence his only outlet for venting his frustrations with the world.
If only Los Angeles had The Break Club, then Bill may have been able to sublimate his violent impulses. The Break Club is a real-life establishment based in Buenos Aires where people – 'normal' people like you and me – go to release their rage by paying to smash things to smithereens.
Feeling wound up after dealing with a tricky customer? Boss getting on your nerves? Or, like Bill, feeling a little ill-treated by society in general? Then The Break Club provides you with a “controlled environment” where you can let rip and blow off steam.
The Break Club’s offer is pretty simple. They provide you with overalls, a safety mask, gloves, a baseball bat or hockey stick and a sparsely furnished room filled with any number of items that you choose from their menu. It might be an old computer monitor, keyboard, printer, phone, lamp, bottles, a fridge, light bulbs – prices range from US$15 to US$60 depending on what you plump for.
The rest is all about you, your ire and how much havoc you want to wreak.
Guido Dodero, founder of The Break Club, says: “The Break club is a
place to fight stress. Our mission is to help control anger and stress,
as well as amuse and entertain people.
“People come and have the chance to break whatever they like. For us Argentinians, it’s almost in our genes to enjoy anger. And at the same time we love psychoanalysis. The Break Club is a sort of mixture of these two elements.”
Mora, a 22-year-old media producer, says: “I have to deal with deadlines, so many people and so many things everyday that my nerves are at a breaking point. After a session at The Break Club, I feel like new. I’m happy and I can go back to work.”
Mora is among the majority of The Break Club habitués – about 85 per cent of its clientele are female.
The venue can even be booked for team bonding exercises among workmates. “We also have lots of first dates,” adds Dondero, before punning: "It tends to smooth things and works as a perfect ice breaker.”
The Break Club is not the only establishment where you can get some ‘smash therapy’. There is Wreck Room in Ohio, Anger Room in Texas, Rage Room in the Serbian city of Novi Sad and the Japan Genki Project in Tokyo. All riff on a similar concept to The Break Club.
So the next time you feel a Falling Down moment coming on, act on it the socially acceptable way, and go to a Break Club near you.
For more information on The Break Club, please visit: http://thebreakclub.com/.