Cuddling to connect
As the virtual world puts an ever-increasing distance between us, real life, in-the-flesh human contact has become sorely missed. Which may explain the popularity of the cuddle party. The clue of what that is exactly, is in the name. A group of strangers get together with the sole purpose of nuzzling, snuggling and hugging. The first documented cuddle party was initiated by Marcia Baczynski and Reid Mihalko in a Manhattan apartment in 2004. From that came an organisation, Cuddle Party, which trains and supports facilitators in 17 countries, including the UK, Canada, Ireland, the US and Australia.
According to its official website, “You can come to a Cuddle Party to meet new people, to enjoy amazing conversations . . . you can even come to a Cuddle Party just to cuddle!” As for the dress code, it’s comfy rather than sexy — “more drawstrings, less lace.” And just to make it clear there’s to be no hanky-panky: “pyjamas stay on the whole time.”
The common-most reason people attend cuddle parties is to connect. As an added side bonus, cuddling has incredible health benefits, too. Cuddling releases endorphins, dopamine and oxytocin. All of which can produce astonishing effects. This cuddle concoction helps mothers bond with their babies; reduces stress and blood pressure; helps enable sleep; improves communication; increases happiness and wellbeing; trust and attachment — and more.
Glasgow launched its first ever cuddle party just this month. And, according to therapist John Fraser, it is much needed. “We live in a very touch-deprived society. It’s awful,” he told the Herald Scotland. “You see people after they’ve had lots of touch and they’re really peaceful, content and happy, and they lose the jaggedness that lots of people have.”