Owners and managers of "rage rooms" across the U.S. are warning that a growing number of customers are engaging in sexual acts within the confines of their facilities.
Rage rooms are spaces where guests can spend time in a private room smashing various items, such as plates, televisions, radios, tables, and more, with blunt objects, according to a report in USA Today.
Customers often come for bachelorette parties or date nights and wear protective gear as they slam crowbars, baseball bats and sledgehammers down on fragile objects.
Rage rooms, which boomed following the COVID-19 pandemic, offer visitors a safe space to release pent-up anger, but now customers are using the venue for another type of cathartic release.
A woman smashes items in the rage room Raivomoo in Helsinki on Sept. 14, 2021. (Olivier MORIN /AFP / Getty Images)
"Every once in a while, people do get a little handsy. I've had some customers lay down together in a room filled with broken glass, so maybe there's a danger aspect to it," Corey Holtam, the owner of Wreck Room Las Vegas, told USA Today. "Being in that atmosphere, it's super weird, so I think people tend to go to a primal place."
The Wreck Room owner said that his business typically attempts to thwart this behavior by making customers aware there is a camera in the room watching them for safety purposes.
Neko Farmer, the founder of REKT in Carrolton, Georgia, said he had seen similar behavior at his place of business.
He admitted that he has seen couples engaged in "heavy petting and intense make-out sessions" at least twice a month, with some "stripping down to their underwear."
A man breaks a television at Rage Room Long Island in Selden, New York, where participants can take their rage out on ordinary household items, on Feb. 21. (Steve Pfost/Newsday RM via Getty Images)
Experts told USA Today that there may be a physiological and psychological link between intense emotions, such as anger and sexual arousal.
Justin Lehmiller, a research fellow with The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, told the outlet that both aggression and sexual behaviors activate an individual's fight-or-flight response, triggering adrenaline.
This response increases blood flow throughout the human body, including the genitals, which may lead to a sexual response.
But Lehmiller suggested that inside rage rooms, people are confusing the physiological response of anger or excitement with sexual arousal, likely attributed to the fact that they are inside a room with someone they are attracted to.
"In other words, when the source of arousal is ambiguous, sometimes we attribute it to the person instead of the situation," she added.
Sex therapist Leigh Norén compared the phenomenon to other dates that may elicit arousal, such as amusement parks or haunted houses.
"If you look at shows like 'The Bachelor' where they often go on dates like bungee jumping, they seem to fall in love [more easily]," she said. "That might be a misinterpretation of these physiological markers going on in their bodies."
Noren also noted that rage rooms allow people to break boundaries society enacts that tell people how they should, helping to buffer the potential for sexual shame.
Rage Room Long Island CEO Michael Hellman said his staff has seen instances where couples have engaged in sexual activity in the parking lot outside the venue. He said these acts are likely the result of "excitation transfer."
"If you visited a rage room with your partner and then went straight home and had sex, it's likely that the sex would be more intense than usual due to the fact that the emotional response for the earlier situation hadn't fully cleared from your system," Lehmiller said.
Licensed clinical psychologist and certified sex therapist Michael Aaron agreed that some people may be attracted to a sense of dominance that emanates from people when they destroy objects.
"They're in charge, but… they're not aggressive toward you or threatening you," he said. "So you experience them in a dominant way that's safe."