Every once in a while, a new business concept appears that seems to answer a heretofore unmet consumer need in a wholly original, and yet stunningly obvious way. Recently we heard about a canny entrepreneur in China who has had one of these "catching the zeitgeist in a bottle" ideas: a novel way of letting his customers deal with the surplus frustration and anger floating around the world today.
He has opened what he calls an "Anger Release Bar" in Nanjing (in Eastern China.) The bar allows customers to smash glasses, rant and even (only female patrons, please) hit the workers. The 20 young male staffers are specially trained, and dressed in protective gear, while customers are charged 50 to 300 Yuan (approximately $8 to $50) for the privilege of releasing their anger upon them, depending on their demands. Clients can ask the men to dress as the character they wish to attack, male or female -- "the boss" appears to be the most popular option. Surprisingly, a large percentage of the customers are women, especially those working in the entertainment or service industries.
The bar is the brainchild of Wu Gong, a former migrant worker who (according to an August interview in China Daily) got his inspiration from Japan, where there are hotels specifically designed for anger release. Rooms in these mayhem centers are full of delicates for consumers to smash against the walls, plus implements of destruction from hammers to chainsaws. Perhaps this source of inspiration accounts for the name Gong has given his bar, The Rising Sun, the traditional symbol of Japan.
It's too soon to say whether the concept will export successfully across the Pacific, but if it doesn't, it won't be for lack of free-floating anger and resentment on these shores. Given the state of the world, perhaps a benign place to vent frustration would do us all a little good.