Every day there are a thousand disappointments.
Small ones. Big ones.
They can start to build on you.
We all know what it’s like. The stress. The frustration.
Where do you put it? How do you release?
That’s what was on Dawn Levian’s mind last winter when she turned to a Facebook group for help.
“I had posted asking if anybody knew of any place like this kind of business,” she tells me, while driving on an errand in a suburb of Grand Rapids. “Someplace to go and release, to let go.”
Someone in the comments told her about this thing she’d never heard of before. A kind of business that started in Asia, but was quickly popping up all across the U.S.
Except there wasn’t one yet where she lived, in West Michigan.
“And then just, like, literally the next morning, I told my husband, 'We’re opening a business,'” Levian continues. “And I think he looked at me like, ‘Uh huh, sure.’ And I’m like, ‘No you don’t understand. I’m doing this, if we can pull it off.’”
She was obsessed. She started spending every spare minute researching, preparing. The idea, she says, it just grabbed her. It’s hard to explain why.
It’s like, she says, if you run into a friend at the store or something, and the person asks, “How are you?”
You know you’re just supposed to say, “I’m good.”
“But what if you’re not good?” Levian says. “What do you do with those feelings, and how do you handle them?”
And so the idea is, what if there were a place where you could let it out?
Levian drives me back to the office of her new business. She unloads that day’s new inventory: A tall black garbage bag full of empty liquor bottles. She washes them. She leads me upstairs where she has more inventory: Hundreds of bottles, glasses, plates all carefully organized on shelves.
All of it ready to be smashed.
Levian’s business – her obsession – it’s called Break Room Therapy.
Another name for this kind of business is a rage room.
It’s a place where people come to let their feelings out and just break some stuff.
For $30 for an individual, or $50 for a group, you can come in and smash glass for 25 minutes. For a little extra, you can add electronics, including printers or monitors.
Levian says the majority of her customers are women. As a woman, she says she knows why. Out in the world, men are the ones who get to be angry.
“I think women keep it in because we’re the ones that always have to hold everything together, but we still deal with stuff too,” Levian says.
Here, is one place they can let it out.
Break Room Therapy is the second rage room in Michigan, and Levian claims the 17th in the U.S.
And yes, we have to say, this is not actual therapy. Dawn Levian is not a medical professional.
She is someone who cares. A lot. And puts that care into this space.
And people do find it helpful. Levian tells me about one client who came through.
“During her session, she started crying, then she stopped and sat down on the floor,” Levian says. “I went to the window and then asked her if she was okay, and she said, ‘I thought I was angry. I just found out I’m sad.’ And I was like ‘Are you OK?’ And she was like, ‘Actually I’m better now than I was before I came.’”
I watched one weekend session, a group of young people who came though. They used aluminum bats, hammers, even a cricket mallet to destroy two baskets' worth of Levian’s inventory.
“I like smashing things as much as I thought I would,” says Jessica Acklin.
When the session is all over, the customer leaves the room, closes the door behind them. All the shattered bits of what they destroyed cover the floor.
And then Dawn Levian, with the help of her husband, get out the brooms and the dustpans, and clean up, so the room can be ready for the next person.