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You can now smash things for fun at new St. Paul business, the Break Room

Take a sledgehammer to 2016 on New Year's Eve. 

By Sharyn Jackson - Star Tribune

DECEMBER 29, 2016

The Break Room in St. Paul has a soft opening on New Year's Eve.

For those who think 2016 kicked our collective butts (e.g. the losses of Prince and Princess Leia, Zika ruining our tropical vacations, the longest election ever), now there’s a way to kick back. Pick up a sledgehammer, don some protective gear and start smashing.

At the Break Room, St. Paul’s newest form of indoor recreation, participants take something heavy and collide it with something breakable, all for a feel-good time. It’s the latest addition to a worldwide trend of businesses cropping up so that people can safely let off steam in a satisfyingly destructive way.

You can try it out on New Year’s Eve at the soft opening of Can Can Wonderland (755 Prior Av. N., Suite #004, St. Paul), an artist-designed mini golf course (with alcohol), where there are two small “break rooms.” The independent business officially opens inside of Can Can Wonderland on Jan. 20 — “the day of the inauguration, not a coincidence,” said founder Theresa Purcell.

Eventually, customers will be able to book 5-minute blocks to smash as many glass, ceramic and plastic breakables as they can load into a bin. When the Break Room acquires special items, like giant ceramic toilets, the privilege of breaking them apart will come with a higher price tag.

“People don’t quite picture how fun it is,” said Purcell, who smashed her share of bottles in an alleyway in Caledonia, in southwest Minnesota, during her childhood. “It’s an endorphin release, it’s physical, it’s such an experience.”

While her bottle-smashing was just teenage antics, Purcell, 33, hit a stress wall at her tech job about a year ago. “I was having a bad day, and thinking, ‘Man, I just want to smash everything around me.’”

Her fantasy was something like the famous scene from the 1999 film “Office Space,” in which three disgruntled employees go to town on a printer.

So, Purcell decided to make a business out of it, adding the Break Room to her varied portfolio — she’s a blood special effects artist at the Soap Factory’s Haunted Basement, curator of the Trash Film Debauchery film series, producer of the Mortified live storytelling series, and a beekeeper.

“I’ve really enjoyed providing recreational experiences but struggled to make a living out of it,” she said. “I hope the Break Room can bridge that gap.”

Besides, people need a place to let go of their anger.

“I think people are just feeling a lot of things right now,” she said.

Other break room-style businesses, like the Anger Room in Dallas and the Rage Room in Toronto, specifically welcome people who have some aggression to get out. But Purcell intends for the Break Room to have a more positive vibe. It’s a decidedly Minnesota approach.

“I’m not a particularly angry person,” she said. “When I smash things, I’m not doing it because I need to let out a burst of aggression. I just love the sound of broken glass.”

To try out the Break Room on New Year’s Eve, you need to buy tickets to Can Can Wonderland’s New Year’s Eve party ($100). Go here for more information.

@SharynJackson