Turning Your Man Cave Into A Progress Parlor

 Turning Your Man Cave Into A Progress Parlor

The predominately American cisgender, heterosexual male obsession with creating the perfect sports sanctuary in the home, or man caves as they are commonly known, is a trend that has been around for the majority of the 2000s.

What started as “Dad’s Clubhouse” for friends and family quickly devolved into a running competition of who can vomit the most testosterone-laden, patriarch-chic decor into a single room for the grand prize of not driving home drunk after Super Bowl.

It is the perfect combination of consumerism and machismo that ignited a never-ending race for creating and maintaining the perfect self-designed speakeasy for a bacchanal of debauchery and rancor that sports fans crave.

Progress parlors, or propars for short, are a relatively new interior design concept of styling a room in your house for use as a learning center and reflection lounge.

As they are wont to do, trends pass and tastes progress (see: wallpaper and shag carpeting). That’s why many homeowners have been opting to change their outdated and tired man caves into progress parlors. Progress parlors, or propars for short, are a relatively new interior design concept of styling a room in your house for use as a learning center and reflection lounge. Guests can discuss ideas of the day, learn with interactive tools the host has accumulated, and walk away from the typical hang more informed and better for it.

Is a progress parlor right for you?

The short answer is yes. As you will see, any room in even the most humble abode can be your propar, so don’t let the absence of a man cave or cisgender, heterosexual male identity stop you from joining the club. Creating this space can be tailored to any size room or budget, has endless customizations to your particular tastes, and is likely to become the new must have for home buyers. Having a propar promotes a feeling of inclusion for all of your guests and increases the perception of their host.

All that’s left is deciding which theme is right for you!


The Library

This basic concept fits any area big or small and uses the thought-provoking literature you already possess. Introduce your friends and loved ones to your favorite authors, thought leaders, and books while you continue to grow your collection. 

Common upgrades include:

  • A coffee station
  • eBooks loaded with your digital collection

The Inspirations Gallery

A photo exhibit of your favorite progressive icons. Create a walkthrough tribute to personal heroes for everyone to admire.

Common upgrades include:

  • Plaques with short biographies and interesting facts 
  • Life size cutouts of political figures for guests to create their own digital memory

The Sensory Deprivation Chamber

Blindfold and ball gag friends in your lightless propar to experience a world without essential abilities. 

Common Upgrades include:

  • A cardboard box maze 
  • Noise canceling headphones playing a loop track of walking into oncoming traffic

The Holding Tank

This is the most popular starting point for budget-minded people. Drab walls and a concrete floor are all you need. Simply lock the door behind your friends to leave them wondering why they are there and when you’ll release them. 

Common upgrades include:

  • A metal toilet installed in the center of the room
  • A cellular signal blocker hidden in a pay phone that only accepts Canadian toonies

The Trail of Tears

Similar to the holding tank, but less budget-friendly as it requires a heavily air-conditioned space. This theme has a furniture-free design that requires only a speaker playing a military drum helping your guests keep pace with the forced march while holding their belongings and is perfect for extended gatherings.

Common upgrades include:

  • A cold water mister 
  • Weighted mannequins that must be carried to represent the sick and elderly

*Propar pro tip – My personal recommendation is to begin with the holding tank concept. With small changes, I was able to adapt between Japanese Internment Camp, Guantanamo, Border Patrol Detainment Center,  and CIA Black Site themes on a whim allowing me to highlight a different American atrocity for return guests. This blank canvas approach keeps learning fresh and gatherings fun.

Embracing the Modular Concept

As an early adopter, my progress parlor has already gone through many changes and additions, so for those looking to upgrade their existing propar or those with a higher starting budget, I’ll share my current design to illustrate the possibilities this fluid concept can create.

One small necessary confession is that my propar is no longer confined to a single room as I have a modest home so a progress parlor this size would need a large room or space commitment. Throughout my home, I have combined multiple exercises to create an AR (Actual Reality) simulation that provides a more personal understanding of bigotry.

I have a variety of learning cubicles with individual and group activities that encourage hands-on, experienced-based learning positioned in various rooms including my original progress parlor, my sensitivity salon, and my anteroom of acceptance.

Guests can choose from a number of simulations which include:


Individual participants wear a name tag marked “Legal Immigrant?” and are required to complete an assigned task that requires the help of others (i.e. get food for your newborn).

Guests spend the night pretending not to understand the participant’s English.

The participant is asked to repeat even the most unmistakable words multiple times and given irrelevant responses in an increasingly agitated tone.

Anytime the participant expresses confusion, I will repeat the last phrase slowly with a condescending enunciation of each syllable multiple times before telling them to learn English and everyone refuses to speak with them altogether.


Participants are fitted with a weighted vest and an altitude training mask before running on a treadmill for 60 minutes while answering interview questions.

Regardless of answers, participants are told upon completion that the job was already promised to my 18-year-old nephew and their interview was only scheduled to fill a quota.


The participant’s legs are tightly bound while their body is secured in a straight jacket fitted with small metal probes.

They then lay on the ground as still as they possibly can and everyone surrounds them yelling to “STOP RESISTING!” while pressing a button that delivers a muscle spasming electric current through the probes.


Participants are given a test based on actual questions taken from the US Citizenship test written in the language they chose for their high school requirement.

If at any point a test accumulates enough wrong answers to result in a failing grade, that participant is immediately deported from the party.

Those who get a passing grade are called terrorists for the remainder of the evening and told to go back to their country.


I place post-it notes that say “put me in your pocket” on any cellular phone left unattended.

When an unwitting participant puts the phone in their pocket and the owner eventually notices, I “arrive on scene” to investigate.

I calmly speak to the participant in an understanding, knowing tone while aggressively shutting down any interruptions from the phone’s owner.

When it’s the owner’s turn to speak, I tell them they aren’t under arrest, but I need to handcuff them for both our safety.

Once the handcuffs are on, I tell them they are under arrest for possession of stolen property and disturbing the peace.

I typically combine the ending with a resisting arrest simulation for continuity and flair.


Each participant sits at the kitchen table with a birthday cake bearing their name.

Wearing a name tag that says “parent”, I tell them nothing could change how much I love them and they are handed a present to open.

Inside the present is a 100 dollar bill stamped “inheritance” and a favorite picture of us together along with a note instructing them to announce that they are a specified gender or sexual orientation.

Upon them doing so a recording of their mother weeping plays while I rip up the picture, snatch their inheritance back, and scream to get out of my house and never come back.

The possibilities are endless and the only limitation on your propar design is your imagination. Fun and learning go hand in hand for homeowners with a propar, so upgrade your home and soul by creating your own propar today!

Share updates of your Progress Parlor with The Inside Scoop on Instagram and Pinterest by tagging photos with #Propar and #ProgressParlor


Gordon Hayes

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