Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Escape this!

I'm handcuffed to the handle of a cabinet in a large office in a nondescript industrial building downtown. In fact, everyone at this party is hand-cuffed to some immovable object in the room. The lights are off, we're locked inside and the only light in the room is the glow from an overhead flat-screen monitor - displaying a clock that counts the hour down. We're being watched via cameras positioned in the upper corners of the room.

What happens next can only be described as an hour of frantic dialogue, small victories, deciphering coded messages, ripping apart and searching through every square inch of that room, assembling basic machines, trying to remember middle school lessons - how does latitude/longitude work again? What story references four men by the sea? It is an exhilarating, cerebral exercise to figure out how to escape. And we've paid for this privilege.

This was my inaugural session in an escape room. And I've become hooked. For the uninitiated, an escape room is 1-hour experience/game where you're locked in a room and you have 60 minutes to figure out how to escape - through a series of clues. This description - however - belies the intensity of the experience. It is not for the intellectually-timid or passive person. Just as with "Dining in the dark", social conventions fly quickly out the window - as we were immediately thrust into "survival mode." I could go on and on about what happened during the hour in that room, but I'll refrain so as not to spoil discovering it for yourself..

We were sprung from that office an hour later - we weren't able to figure out our escape on our own. Even though we didn't "win", I left that nondescript industrial building in downtown LA in an euphoric state. Really. I felt like my brain had been shaken around - in a good way. The game stretched my mind and left me stunned, exhilarated and admiring the folks that put these escape rooms together. Highly recommend this fun. Reservations required.

Los Angeles

Orange County