When I started to advertise Glasgow’s first Cuddle Party at the start of this month on social media, what amazed me was the response. I naively thought that the event would be uncontroversial.
But uniquely, people with whom I had no connection shared the posts, even though they often did so with comments like “being hugged by strangers is my worst nightmare”. Not one but two Glasgow Herald journalists got in touch with us. One of their leading journalists, Rohese Devereux Taylor, wrote a half page article on the event, which was beautifully objective and fair. (there’s a link to the article on the Home Page of my website www.loveandsexcoaching.co.uk ). Radio Scotland interviewed us, and again, were fair and enquiring, rather than the sensationalism we were apprehensive about (and familiar with).
The readers of the Evening Times were cordially flabbergasted at our effrontery. Reader Betty McCormick opined “Omg, what is coming to Glasgow next?”. Reader Fergus Thomson was of the view “ the lunatics have taken over the asylum”.
I had no idea cuddling was so radical.
We eventually sold 25 tickets, and there were 30 of us gathered in The Clubroom, a beautiful dance space, within the CCA on a wet Sunday afternoon on 2 February. My dear friend Stella Sonnenbaum, who has been running these events in London monthly for the past five years, facilitated the event, and I assisted her.
We started with a sharing circle, where we all took turns to say our names, what had brought us here, what we hoped to get out of it, and any anxieties which we had. Other than me, none of the participants had been to a Cuddle Party before.
After that, we went over the rules of Cuddle Party. There are 12 of them, but the essentials are that the participants stay clothed, there is no sexual touch and we only accept touch if we actively want it.
We then got into groups of three, where we took turns to practice asking for how we would like to touch, or to be touched. In the first round, our partners would give us a No, in the second round they would give us a Yes (nothing happening in either case), and in the third round, when we asked, our partners would give an authentic Yes or No. It is a great opportunity to practice saying Yes and No, to experience hearing Yes and No, and not to be crushed by feelings of compliance, resentment, embarrassment or shame. As the great Betty Martin says, if you can’t say No, your Yes isn’t worth anything.
After that was the free section, where each of us could ask for the touch we wanted. When I looked around after my experience with my group of three, I was surprised to find that everyone else appeared to have scarpered to the refreshment area next door. After a little while however, people started coming back in, interacting with each other. What was so beautiful to see was how tenderly feeling it all was. Some people were spooning in groups of three or four, some people were hugging, and there was a tangible feeling of gentleness, connection and warmth in the room.
The last part of the workshop was the Cuddle pile. This is what is depicted in the photograph. One person lies down in the middle of the room, then the rest of us lie in connection with that person, and each other, and we’re then still for 5 minutes or so. It’s wonderful!
And that was it. We got lovely feedback. One participant later said:
“I had a wonderful time at the cuddle party at CCA, thanks to you and Stella, it was such a great experience, felt really safe and well facilitated and actually such a space for exploration and growth in a lot of ways I think”.
Due to the response, Stella recommended that I arrange another Cuddle Workshop as soon as possible, and I have: it’s on Sunday 15 March 2-5pm at In The Moment Yoga Studio, 72 Berkeley Street, Glasgow G3 7SD. I’ll facilitate it. The cost is the same as before, £14, and payment is in advance. Places are limited, so if you’re interested, please contact me. You can email me through the website, or at firstname.lastname@example.org, or text me on 07545707751.
Be part of something new. And radical, apparently.