You might like me when I’m angry

Rage Room

Why the ‘rage room’ is a therapeutic blessing

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in the Other Press. September 16, 2015

We live in a society where we have to walk in line, talk politely, and eat with our mouths closed. We put so much pressure on ourselves to stay civilized that often we forget that we are animals. The way we bottle up our rage, stress, and frustration is one of the reasons why we have such an internalized, yet explosive, brand of suffering. When we erupt we do it in the most self-destructive ways: we burn bridges, sabotage ourselves, and mostly likely hurt our loved ones. Talking only does so much, writing in our journals only does so much, and even drugs and alcohol can only mute the pain temporarily. What we need is a safe environment to let it all out.

The rage room is the latest trendy stress-relief activity and I think it’s about time. Toronto has its very own, and I think Vancouver should venture into that market as well. Basically, the rage room is a confined space where you, the paid participant, can release your anger on inanimate objects. The same way dogs love to chew and cats love to scratch, humans have an innate desire to see things break and go boom.

Why not go to yoga, relax in a hot tub, or get a nice massage? If you like trendy, why not go lie down in a float spa? Why not go exercise for an hour or two to get the sweat out? While those activities will relieve stress, it offers a solution from one side of the spectrum. Relaxation has a certain flavour and destruction has a different one. It’s like wanting a White Castle burger and settling for a hotdog from Hot Dog Heaven.

Let’s say your favourite hockey team lost and you feel pissed. You don’t want to go do yoga. You want to smash this lamp here. Let’s say you found out that your ex-girlfriend is dating a richer, nicer, better-looking guy, you don’t want to read a nice book in the bathtub, you want to smash this lamp here. Of course we—controlled, well-mannered humans—never actually follow through with our destructive thoughts, but the fact that many of us have them makes me believe that we need a place to release it.

While a rage room is a fairly new concept, and may only be advertised as a fun thing to do on a Tuesday afternoon, I believe that there should be a rage space for every coffee shop. Just a place where we can walk into, bring something we want to destroy, and leave with the satisfaction that we can still make an impact in this world. We can still alter the outcome of a physical entity, without hurting another human being, of course.

Not everything in life will go your way. Sometimes the Canucks will lose. Sometimes your boss will not acknowledge your efforts. Sometimes your partner will belittle you at a party. Sometimes your life will seem like it’s spinning out of your control. That’s because we are forced to place meaningless objects on pedestals. We worship objects. We shouldn’t. Smash it. Smash it before you find yourself downtown smashing the window of The Bay or flipping over a cop car.

The Report Card: Holiday ins and outs

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By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. Jan. 28, 2014

Holidays are significant. We look forward to them for various reasons. Perhaps they bring family and friends together, perhaps they ignite a sense of tradition, or maybe we just enjoy dressing up and getting drunk. Whatever your reasons are for celebrating a holiday, remember that beneath the rambunctious fun, there is a greater purpose than merely closing shop and getting trashed.

Pass: Unofficial holidays

Unofficial holidays are quickly becoming a trend in North American culture. There is a novelty to it unlike Christmas, New Year’s Eve, or Thanksgiving. Unofficial holidays break the monotony of the year and give us something unique to look forward to. With the help of technology and social networks, holiday implementers can come up with a reason to celebrate and execute it. With little to no effort, they can sent out invitations, spread the news, and host a holiday that hasn’t existed before.

January 21 is National Hug Day, January 25 is Opposite Day, March 14 is Pi Day, April 20 is Cannabis Day, September 5 is International Bacon Day, and September 19 is International Talk like a Pirate Day. There are many more and I’m not exactly sure what they all entail, but we have the opportunity to create new traditions and be inventive with how we spend our time.

So often days, weeks, months, and even years blend together into a blurry life, but with unofficial holidays making eventful marks and breaking us out of our daily routines, we can create new memories—ones that have us covered in make-up for the annual Zombie Walk or taking our dog to work on June 20 for Take Your Dog to Work Day. Now, those are memories, unlike getting wasted at a random bar.

Fail: Drinking holidays

It’s a bit of a shame seeing some respectable holidays turn into an excuse to get drunk. St. Patrick’s Day, a day to celebrate the independence of the Irish people, is now a day where bars serve green beer. Cinco de Mayo, a day that commemorates the freedom and democracy after the American Civil War is just another alcohol-filled fiesta. Finally there is my old favourite, Halloween: it used to be a chance to dress up and get candy, but now it’s just an opportunity for bars and clubs to jack up their cover charges or to make it impossible to get in because the lineup wraps around the block, and Lord knows I’m not waiting in the cold dressed in my Miley Cyrus/wrecking ball costume.

It has become customary to stock up on booze for New Year’s Eve and other statutory holidays because the provincial liquor stores will be closed the next day and getting wasted is, well, important and expected. So, what does it really say about our society that the days we consider significant are also the days that we make regrettable choices?

I think having fun is important, but anticipating a day just to binge drink doesn’t foster a healthy life. Let’s not forget what holidays are really about. It’s rest, not indulgence.

In or out-cohol

Illustration by Ed Appleby

Illustration by Ed Appleby

Should public drinking be legalized?

Formerly published in The Other Press. June 4 2013

By Elliot Chan, Staff Writer

In British Columbia and all of Canada, except Quebec, public drinking is not only frowned upon, but illegal. If the sobering law catches you with “open liquor,” you can be charged with a $230 fine—that’s your monthly supply of booze down the drain. Vancouver is recognized around the world for its laid-back attitude, so why are we so uptight when it comes to drinking in public? Is the person walking down the street with an open bottle of Double Diamond any more dangerous than the guy walking down the street with a can of Dr. Pepper? How is binge drinking at home or in a bar any different from binge drinking at a park or at a beach?

If the argument against public drinking is that we’re living in a developed country and that respectable, classy people don’t consume alcohol in the open, consider this: the United Kingdom is as classy as it gets, and they allow drinking in the open. New Zealand, instead of banning “open liquor,” simply created alcohol-free zones, most often situated in business districts. And then we have the Japanese who, despite having public drinking and public intoxication, maintain consistent global dominance. If those societies can function with public drinking, why can’t ours?

What would a day in our life look like with people drinking alcohol in the streets and the parks? Those against public drinking might say that overconsumption in a public setting would cause rowdiness and violence, and without bouncers and bartenders to keep the drinkers in place, tragedy is more likely to occur. Meanwhile, the proponent of public drinking might say that it would normalize our attitude towards alcohol, creating a healthier drinking culture. After all, just because something is legal doesn’t mean people would abuse it. Naps are legal, but you still get out of bed at some point.

There are very few beautiful days in this city, and when we do get some sunlight peeking through the clouds, it would be a pleasure to enjoy a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or even a cocktail in the open without feeling like a criminal.

Liquor laws in BC are fickle; adhering to them is not only difficult for consumers, but also for proprietors. Local theatres such as the Rio on Broadway have been disputing with the BC Liquor Control and Licensing Branch since 2011, trying to incorporate live theatre, cinema, and liquor consumption. Sadly, LCLB only allows alcohol in live performances, not in movie theatres. “That’s what the province has told us. They’ve made it very clear,” owner and general manager Corinne Lea says. “With this application process we must now be a live venue exclusively.” Since then, Rio has transitioned back to a cinema and live theatre venue, omitting the liquor license.

This year, BC allowed catering companies to obtain liquor licenses to meet their clients’ needs. Before that, people hosting events with liquor required a special occasion license, to complete the Serve it Right course, to purchase and transport the liquor, and to accept all responsibility and liability for the liquor service.

Vancouver is a beautiful city, but the stress it puts on itself makes it an ugly place to live sometimes. While some might call it a First World problem, I disagree. A law that makes criminals out of decent people simply aiming to enjoy a gorgeous day with a harmless beverage is a social problem.