Finnish ex-con opens ‘rage room’ to repay society and help people let off steam

  • The former gang member, who spent 20 years in prison for murder, hopes the room can be used as a place for people to let out their anger
  • Women account for 80 per cent of his customers, as expressing their rage and frustration is still seen as taboo, even in Finland
Agence France-Presse |

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Finland’s Janne Raninen founded a rage room called “Raivomoo” as a way to repay society. Photo: AFP

A man in Finland who spent two decades in prison for murder is trying to repay his debt to society with a “rage room,” where clients can vent their anger on household objects with a baseball bat.

Janne Raninen, a 44-year-old convicted of two gang-related murders, opened Helsinki’s “Raivoomo” (“rage centre”) two months ago using money borrowed from friends, and says he has been “fully booked” ever since.

“I was in prison until six months ago and I thought this kind of room could have also been good for me when I was younger,” says Raninen, who became embroiled in gangs while growing up in a disadvantaged suburb in Sweden.

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“I thought, when I come out I’m going to start this room and let people let out their anger here instead of doing the stupid things that I did in my youth,” he said.

Raninen also gives regular talks to young people, trying to steer them away from gangs.

“It’s one of my ways to try and pay back society,” he says, adding that the rage room is another - not only through the taxes he pays but also through the well-being it can bring people.

Smashed devices and items after being destroyed in the rage room. Photo: AFP

Rage rooms are fairly common, particularly in the US, and Raninen’s new venture has proven a particular smash hit with women letting out pandemic frustration.

“I feel fantastic, you just get swept along with it,” says Sanna Sulin, who has come to celebrate her 50th birthday, letting rip on old printers, a vacuum cleaner and crockery, to a soundtrack of her favourite music.

“My friend brought me here to try it and at first I refused, I’m more into repairing things,” she said, while standing among fragments of metal, plastic and glass.

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“We women are used to having to behave properly, having to control ourselves,” she said.

Eighty per cent of the customers are women aged 25 to 45, owner Raninen noted.

Despite Finland’s reputation as a bastion of gender equality, Raninen agrees that “women’s aggression is taboo, they’re not allowed to let off steam”.

Sulin smashes items in the rage room to celebrate her 50th birthday. Photo: AFP

The pandemic is by far the main cause of anger but a divorce-themed smash-up room - painted pink with a suit and wedding dress hanging on the wall - also proves popular.

“In the long term it’s always better to go and talk to a therapist and work with the issues inside you,” he says.

But in the short-run, “this is the best place for letting out steam and all the anxiety”.

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