No, a cuddle party is not a cover-up for an orgy. That's what Marcia Baczynski, co-founder of Cuddle Party, wants to make clear.
Rather, the playful party, which has recently taken off in B.C.'s Lower Mainland, is an event where participants cuddle for a couple of hours in their pajamas. Other activities include head rubs, massages, spooning, or even just talking.
The clothing-on and non-sexual events have received tons of positive feedback from customers and cuddlers, Baczynski told The Huffington Post B.C. in an interview, but there are still many people who think the idea is bizarre.
Baczynski believes they shouldn't knock it until they've tried it. She thinks the skepticism comes from people having bad experiences with boundaries, touch, negotiations, and consent in the past.
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Touch is important and having a safe space for it is just as crucial, said Baczynski, who is based in New York. That's exactly what Cuddle Parties strive to be: a safe place for physical, but non-sexual, human interaction.
"I really love that moment when you realize it’s safe to relax," she said. "You feel like you’re breathing, and somebody else is breathing. And it’s this moment of being a human with another human. I love that moment."
Started in New York City in 2004, Cuddle Party currently has over 70 different facilitators in eight different countries. The idea came from co-founder Reid Mihalko when he hosted massage therapy get-togethers. Friends wanted to join the party but were intimidated since many attendees were massage therapists. So instead of focusing on massages, Baczynski and Mihalko switched it up and made the gatherings about cuddling instead.
What kind of people go to cuddle parties? Apparently, affectionate people, single people, and people who are looking to work on their physical boundaries.
The event begins with a 45 to 60 minute welcome circle that includes introductions, games, and laying down the ground rules. For example, participants must ask permission and receive a verbal "yes" before touching anyone; people can say "no" and are encouraged to change their minds if feeling uncomfortable or unsure. After the welcome circle comes the freestyle cuddling portion, which ends off with a short closing circle.
After the party is over, Baczynski said that most people seem much more relaxed. She compared them to looking like they just left a really good massage since they have “this glazed, blissed-out look.”