Maybe you found some incriminating texts on your boyfriend’s phone. Maybe someone keyed your car. Or maybe you were passed over for the promotion that you worked so hard for. Either way, there’s a new outlet for all that anger and stress, thanks to Thunderbird Salvage, a North Philly pop-up shop full of stuff collected from estate clean-outs.
On Friday night, the warehouse is holding Philadelphia’s first “rage cage,” where visitors can smash stuff up with a bat, crowbar or sledgehammer in a controlled environment. Smashable items include old televisions, old statues, printers, plates and more; stuff that usually winds up in the trash anyway. Smashers can also bring their own supply of items.
“I want to see if the idea holds up,” said Steph Irwin, the event planner at Thunderbird Salvage. “I’d like to do it more than once. It’s perfect because we get a lot of stuff that usually goes to the dump, but why not just smash it?”
Rage cages, or rage rooms, have taken off in a number of states recently, including Texas, Maryland, and New York. They usually either charge per item or by time. A 2016 Philadelphia Magazine poll showed that 96.37 percent of the people polled would pay to “smash stuff to smithereens.”
For Thunderbird’s rage cage, customers will be outfitted in hard hats, protective goggles, gloves, and coveralls. Anyone who wants to participate in the rage cage at Thunderbird will have to don all that protective gear and sign a liability form. Smashing session options range from a five-minute “quickie” that costs $20 to a 20-minute “couple session” that will run you $70. Friends and bystanders are welcome to hang out next to the rage cage and enjoy food from a halal food truck.
When I showed up at Thunderbird on Tuesday morning for a sneak peek, I quickly realized that I should have worn athletic clothes instead of my work outfit. (Ladies, come prepared with a sports bra.) Irwin led me out back to the cage she had set up after I struggled into oversized coveralls. Enclosed by fencing, the cage was decorated with naked Barbie dolls.
“If you want, you can tape a photo of your ex-boyfriend’s face to the thing you’re going to smash,” Irwin offered. “We have a printer onsite.”
I opted not to, although the idea was tempting.
George Mathes, the owner of Thunderbird, brought out an old television and placed it in front of me. Irwin handed me a sledgehammer and showed me how to swing it safely before stepping back. Beyoncé’s “Sorry” blasted from her speaker. (Participants will get to choose what music they would like to smash items to.) It was time for me to destroy some stuff.
“Go ahead,” Mathes said, sensing my hesitation.
I swung the sledgehammer and it smashed through the television screen with a satisfying crack, sending shards of glass flying with a puff of gas. Mathes also pushed an old grill out for me to try banging up, which I did with a crowbar. Don’t be fooled, though: Smashing stuff up is a serious workout. I surrendered my weapons happily after a few minutes.
“Nowadays, violence is looked down upon,” Irwin said. “But people aren’t getting out their aggression. When your brain gets that, it’s so nice. I think rage rooms are catching out because there aren’t really better ways to do it.”
7 p.m. to 12 a.m. Friday, Thunderbird Salvage, 1431 N. 9th St., $20 to $70, 267-250-7995, phillythunderbird.com