Going to a party in your pajamas sounds awesome. Going to a party in your pajamas to be hugged and spooned and massaged by strangers...well, let's just say that it might not be for everyone.
According to the website cuddleparty.com, Calgary is now the country's cuddliest city, hosting more cuddle parties for grown-ups than any place in Canada.
What is a cuddle party, you ask? According to cuddleparty.com, a cuddle party is a group of adults (most of them strangers) who gather in a private home and allow for consensual touch in the form of spooning, massage, hugging, back scratching and foot rubs. People wear pajamas that are less sexy than shlubby, and no alcohol is served. You can bring your own stuffed animal if you're so inclined.
"You can come to a Cuddle Party to meet new people, to enjoy amazing conversations, to touch, to be touched, to have fun, to practice asking for what you want, to practice saying "no" to what you don't want -- all in a setting structured to be a safe place for exploration and enjoyment. You can even come to a Cuddle Party just to cuddle!"
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WHAT TO BRING: Sorry, no liquor folks. Juice or sparkling cider is always welcome. A pillow or stuffed animal if you like. Otherwise, just bring your smiling self. Source: cuddleparty.com
WHAT TO WEAR: Pajamas – nothing too risqué. Think more comfy than sexy. (More drawstrings, less lace! No shorts.) Source: cuddleparty.com
Pajamas stay on the whole time. Souce: cuddeparty.com
You don’t have to cuddle anyone at a Cuddle Party, ever. Source: cuddleparty.com
You must ask permission and receive a verbal YES before you touch anyone. (Be as specific in your request as you can.) Source: cuddleparty.com
If you’re a yes, say YES. If you’re a no, say NO. If you’re a maybe, say NO. Source: cuddleparty.com
You are encouraged to change your mind. Source: cuddleparty.com
Get your Cuddle Party Facilitator or the Cuddle Assistant if you have a question or concern or need assistance with anything during the Cuddle Party. Source: cuddleparty.com
Respect your relationship agreements and communicate with your partner. Source: cuddleparty.com
Tears and laughter are both welcome. Source: cuddleparty.com
Respect people’s privacy when sharing about Cuddle Parties. Source: cuddleparty.com
You are not obligated to cuddle at a cuddle party, but it is encouraged. If you want to touch someone you must be given explicit permission in the form of a "yes."
The cuddle party is led by a trained facilitator (Calgary has three), and following some icebreaker games you are allowed to dive right in for some snuggles and non-sexual contact.
Still sounds a bit weird, right? Maybe even creepy? Anna Alexander thought so too, until she attended her first party.
"It can be very isolating living in Calgary. Prior to coming to a cuddle party, I would be lucky to get a hug once a month. I'm going to get 20 hugs tonight easy," she said in an interview with CBC Calgary.
Cuddle parties were founded in the U.S. in 2004 as a way for people who were too intimidated to attend massage workshops to connect and explore touching other people. The idea quickly caught on in cities along the western coast, eventually making its way to Calgary and Vancouver.
Colleen Kimmett with The Tyee in B.C. attended a cuddle party earlier this year and described her experience as "relaxed, friendly and not sexually charged."
"There was hair playing and back rubbing and arm scratching and some spooning and amidst all that were snack breaks, chatting and laughter. Afterwards, I felt like I imagine all those people I see coming out of hot yoga studios feel. Relaxed. Happy," she wrote.
Calgarians desperate for a hug or a snuggle before the impending Last Day on Friday can attend an "End of the World Cuddle Party." Twenty dollars will get you through the door and into someone's arms. Cough up another $15 and you can bring a friend.
What if the world doesn't end Friday night? Fear not. There are cuddle parties in Calgary every first Friday and third Saturday of the month.