By Chris Cumella
The area could soon have its own rage room — a creation designed for destruction. The local concept was conceived in 2019 by Michael Hellmann, who hopes to start up Rage Room Long Island.
A vacant storefront on Middle Country Road could be on its way to becoming the latest attraction that Selden has to offer its residents and visitors alike. The last hurdle for Hellmann and his crew is obtaining a permit from the Town of Brookhaven. Doing so will solidify their place in the Selden Plaza and create a therapeutic stress release for all who enter.
“We started this project two years ago,” said Hellmann, a Holbrook resident. “It is definitely an intense workout if you want it to be — you can break a picture of your ex, you can make it whatever you want.”
Derived from Japan, the first rage room opened in 2008, known as The Venting Place. It was created in the wake of the nation’s Great Recession, putting stressed-out workers, students and people from all walks of life in an environment where destruction was therapeutic. Since then, over 60 venues are operating in the U.S. and rising, according to Hellmann.
He said that his premises would include two sizable rooms accompanied by a third, larger room designed for parties and other big groups. Once a waiver is signed, a mechanical arm will hand you a weapon of your choice to arm yourself with —including crowbars, sledgehammers, golf clubs and even pipe wrenches.
“Michael is very creative and is looking at the latest and most innovative methods,” said Michaela Pawluk, social media manager of Rage Room LI. “When you go to other rage rooms, you are just destroying things, but the way that he created it and designed it — it is an entire experience.”
Participants are equipped with thick coveralls and a face shield for bodily protection from the bits of cutlery, furniture and technology scattered throughout a room during their allotted time ranging from 15-30 minutes. For the larger room intended for parties, audiences will have access to larger objects to unload. These include an industrial humidifier and a 4-foot Xerox machine right out of an attorney’s office.
Recycling is the name of Rage Room LI’s game, and Hellmann and his team play strategically when scouting the town’s curbs for discarded objects large enough for further destruction. Once a customer is finished with their session, the leftover scraps are recycled once again in an environmentally conscious effort to avoid sending them to a landfill.
“We are literally getting things off the street,” Hellmann said. “We have a Rage Room LI van, and we drive around the neighborhoods to collect junk off the curb. We love finding things that are technologically based.”
A rage room is designed to be used in any way that customers see fit — from an outlet to unleash anger to a venue for birthday parties. Rage Room LI is attempting to break the stigma around the danger of rage rooms. One of their most significant priorities has been to facilitate a safe environment where people can let endorphins flourish and have fun.
To get up and running at the request of over 900 eager participants via email, Hellmann is seeking a permit from the town to register his business. All town board members have expressed interest in introducing Long Island’s first rage room, except for one hesitant councilmember concerned of misuse or bringing in troubling individuals.
Rage Room LI has seen support from a petition on Change.org to open shop that has garnered 586 signatures as at May 12 out of a goal of 1,000. Aside from the signatures, the purpose of creating the petition was to show local and neighboring residents that it is a worthwhile cause. It is a continuous effort which Pawluk encourages anyone who is interested to add their name to the petition to emphasize community solidarity.
Envisioning opening day leaves Hellmann and his crew optimistic that their business will make a tremendous splash in Selden. Rage Room LI is shaping up to succeed from the positive community feedback, project plans and potentially a permit at its side.
“At some point, people break things whether they want to or not,” Hellmann said. “We are just expressing positivity, that is mainly the goal.”