I often have people who think Cuddle Party is kind of like a pajama party… it makes sense with a name like that. But it’s really so much more. Before I explain, let me tell you a little story of how I came to Cuddle Party and how it’s affected my life.
Summer of 2015, I attended Sex Geek Summer Camp, a camp that teaches marketing to sex educators and those in sex-positive businesses. That is where I attended my first Cuddle Party. Not only was it an official Cuddle Party, it was a Cuddle Party facilitated by Reid Mihalko, the co-founder of Cuddle Party. He started Cuddle Party with Marcia Baczynski in New York City in 2004. Also in attendance was another rock star of Cuddle Party, Monique Darling, author of the book Beyond Cuddle Party: How Pajamas, Human Connection, and 11 Rules Can Change Your Life.
Fast forward and I became a professional cuddler with Cuddlist in December of that year. Cuddlist was founded by two Cuddle Party facilitators, Madelon Guinazzo and Adam Lippin. As part of my training with Cuddlist, at that time they were asking we attend multiple Cuddle Parties over the course of the first 6 months. (That requirement has been modified to just one Cuddle Party as part of certification.) I went to my second Cuddle Party in April, 2016 and that is when I decided I wanted to become a Cuddle Party facilitator. I figured it would help promote my private cuddling services, if nothing else.
By August, 2016, I became Cuddle Party facilitator #00129. But I also became a confident business woman and finally started actively professionally cuddling. Until then I had hesitated to promote myself which led to literally only one client, someone referred to me by Madelon.
What changed? Cuddle Party came into my life in a very big way. Not only did I learn great people and facilitation skills in facilitator training, I was attending my own Cuddle Parties.
Back to the original question: What is a Cuddle Party?
Short answer: Cuddle Party is a consent and communication workshop.
Long answer: We start off Cuddle Party with a mandatory welcome circle. That means that I set a time that the doors close and we start. If you aren’t there, you can’t attend late. It is important that everyone know that those in attendance are all aware and agree to the rules. The welcome circle is the workshop portion. We use the Cuddle Party rules to learn why clear communication is so valuable. Being clear with your requests and having a clear yes or no are very valuable skills in the real world, outside of Cuddle Party. Most don’t feel comfortable telling others no. Many definitely don’t feel comfortable hearing no from others. Sometimes people just don’t feel they deserve to say yes to what they want. Cuddle Party gives us a safe place to practice all of those things. After the welcome circle, you are given the option to receive a refund if you feel the rest of the party isn’t really for you. The rest of the party is what we call “freestyle cuddling” where we get to put into practice what we learned in the welcome circle. (Please note, you never have to cuddle anyone, ever, at a Cuddle Party.)
Holding Cuddle Parties, I learned, through feedback, that I could indeed hold this safe space and that people were getting real value from both the workshop portion and the safe, nurturing touch they were able to give and receive. This helped me release the fear that was holding me back and that’s when my private cuddling business became a real thing.
Speaking of feedback, I’d like to share one message I received that really helped me appreciate the value of Cuddle Party. One attendee messaged myself and a friend that was in attendance, saying, “I just felt the need to tell both of you that today I gave someone a straight forward “No” when probed if I was interested in meeting them. It was such an empowering experience, and Michelle, I think your Cuddle Party and practicing saying no really helped. Thank you!”
THAT is Cuddle Party! THAT is why I facilitate Cuddle Parties!