Perhaps your office or work place has a room like this. The Quiet Room is a space made available to employees who might desire a little privacy while on the job. Whether you’re in need of a quick snooze or a yoga session, the Quiet Room is your haven of rest on a busy studio day.
Back in the Disney old days we had a quiet room as well. Of course, back then they were called, “Sweat Boxes.” You Disney buffs already know what a sweat box is, don’t you? It was a small projection room located in each directors unit on the second floor of Walt Disney’s Animation Building. Of course, I’m speaking of the original Animation Building on the Burbank studio lot. Should you enter wing 2B from the main hallway you’d find yourself in the foyer of the second floor wing. Directly to your right would be a door leading to the screening room. As I mention earlier, these screening rooms were where the directors would meet with their team of animators and check out their scenes. Back at the old Hyperion studio in Silverlake the rooms were not air conditioned. This was the nineteen thirties and on a hot summer day you would really feel the heat. Should the Old Maestro, Walt Disney be attending the session you can bet that the temperature in the room would truly begin to rise. Now, you know where the term, “Sweatbox” comes from.
However, the sweatbox or screening room served another purpose in the old Disney days. However, this use of the sweatbox is rarely discussed. It was not unusual to open the heavily padded door of the sweatbox and hear loud snoring. You guessed right. The snoring came from an animator sleeping off a bender. The Disney artists were known to have a few drinks at lunch back in the day and sometimes the drinks numbered more than a few. Returning to the studio after lunch, the animator would stumble upstairs to an unused sweatbox to grab forty winks. Can you think of a better place for a quick snooze? The screening room was totally soundproof and dark as night. What better place for an animator to rest his weary head? I’ll confess I used the sweatbox myself on occasion. However, this wasn’t because I was trying to keep up with Marc Davis at lunch. No, it’s because I simply wasn’t feel well and a short upstairs nap usually helped. Of course, you animation buffs know that each second floor wing had a sweatbox for reviewing animation. For some reason I would usually choose the sweatbox in wing 2B. Probably because it was rarely used and my nap wouldn’t suddenly be interrupted by a Disney director and his team.
Today, we have a Quiet Room in our building and I guess that’s a pretty good idea. We all need a little privacy now and then. However, I’ll never forget my old Disney days when your eyelids got heavy and you didn’t want to be caught sleeping at your desk. All you had to do was head upstairs to an unused sweatbox and a comfy KEM Webber lounge chair. After a twenty minute snooze you were ready to return to your drawing board rested and relaxed. Another fun memory from my days of Disney past.