Here’s a key; you can lock yourself in,” says regular screamer Mohammed el-Debbaby as he closes the heavy, wooden door to the scream room. I am left alone in the padded room, the faint sound of a John Legend track leaking through the door serving a reminder that this room isn’t quite as soundproof as advertised.
It takes me about 10 minutes to work up a scream (five of them are spent doubled over with laughter). Eventually, I cover my ears tightly with my hands, shut my eyes and meditate on the horrors of this year. The three screams I manage start in the pit of my stomach, rising up until I feel the vibrations in the back of my throat, each a little shorter than the last.
Bab Aldonia (The World’s Door) bookshop and cafe in Cairo opened its scream room about a month ago, converting what was previously used solely as a practice space for bands into a place where visitors can scream their lungs out, kick the walls or generally let rip – free of charge. Given Egypt’s much-reported lack of freedom of expression, not to mention Cairo’s smoggy, car-clogged streets, a scream room seems a fitting antidote to daily life there.
Having read about similar “anger-management rooms” in cities such as Tokyo and Los Angeles, the bookshop’s manager, Abdel-Rahman Saad, decided the concept was worth bringing to Cairo. So far, 12 people have visited the shop just to scream – and the majority were women. “Their reactions are different each time,” he says. “Some find it cathartic – they leave smiling and laughing.”
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When Bobby enters the scream room, he prefers to let loose while using the drum kit in the corner. For his eighth scream, he began by building up a gentle rhythm on the drums, eyes closed. After a minute or two, he let out a low scream, a shout of uncontained rage. As he relaxed into it, his screams became more regular, before he leaned back and exhaled gently, sweat beading on his forehead.
“How do you feel?” I ask. “So good. It’s like drugs!” he jokes, laughing as he put his glasses back on.
There is a definite pre-scream and post-scream feeling, brought into sharper focus by the sore throat I feel for the rest of the afternoon. But knowing there is a room available for a good scream is a comforting thought.
Credit: The Guardian