700 Billion Hug Bailout!

by Reid on November 16, 2008

Since the world economy has been getting so much media attention these days, it came as no surprise that I received an email from one of Norway’s biggest financial newspapers wanting to do a lifestyle piece on Cuddle Parties. From the angle of the journalist’s questions, it got me wondering if affection itself is about to enter a recession…. Here’s a behind the scenes peek at my answers to the questions in the reporter’s email.

Can a 700-billion hug bailout be far off?

What was your initial idea behind the cuddle parties?

Cuddle Parties grew out of an informal workshop I was running for massage therapists to create a time for them to stop working and actually take time to practice receiving touch instead of always giving it. Out of those workshops came the observation that everyone needs more safe, nurturing touch in their lives. I asked myself, “What will it take to get people, people who don’t have touch and massage as a common vocabulary, to feel safe enough to invite more nurturing touch and affection in their lives?” The answer was communication workshop and social event know as Cuddle Party!

What is the main reason for people going to these parties?

People attend Cuddle Parties for a variety of reasons. To learn how to say No and not feel guilty, to meet new people in a safe, non-threatening environment, to get more affection in their lives, to become better at asking for what they want, and to relax and have fun for an afternoon are just a few of the most common reasons people attend Cuddle Party workshops.

Who are going to these parties? (Have you seen any changes in who comes to your parties after it has become more known?)

We get pretty much every type of occupation, race, religion, and demographic attending Cuddle Parties. We’ve had doctors and lawyers, bike messengers and yoga instructors, ex-Marines and peace activists, students and professors, millionaires and blue collar workers. The age ranges from 18 to 83… Yep. 83 years old wins the prize as our eldest cuddler!

What has changed slightly in the attendance of Cuddle Parties across the years has been this: We used to get 3 men wanting to attend Cuddle Parties for every 1 woman. We figure this had lots to do with men reading about Cuddle Parties in the news or on the web and saying to themselves, “This looks neat. I’ll go,” whereas women read about it and think, “This is exactly what I need, but until I hear from another woman that it’s safe, I won’t take the chance.” As Cuddle Party has gotten more popular, and more women are talking Cuddle Parties and how safe they are to their girlfriends, the ratio is now around 2 to 1 men to women. So, women, if you’re looking to meet really sweet guys who like to cuddle, come to a Cuddle Party. It’s great odds!

Who doesn’t attend Cuddle Parties: creepy people. Why? Because creepy people aren’t willing to go to a workshop and sit through an hour-long Welcome Circle to “get away with something.” They just don’t. Cuddle Parties consistently have well-meaning and sweet people attending.

How many join cuddle parties a year?

To date, we’ve cuddled close to eight to ten thousand people around the world, give or take a few.

Has the number increased the latter years?

We’ve been training and certifying Cuddle Party Facilitators for nearly five years now through our Foundations of Facilitation training program (foundationsoffacilitation.org) and our Cuddle Party Certification Program. We’ve got over forty certified Cuddle Party Facilitators running events in four countries, so the number of Cuddle Parties thrown each year has steadily increased as has number of people cuddled!

Has it increased lately, as we are going into a financial crisis with a “colder” society? Do you think people would seek to more warmer and solidarity values during an economical downturn?

We don’t know yet if we’re in the midst of a cuddle recession; however, in times of financial scarcity, people have less disposable income to spend on non-necessities, like workshops. What I do know is that touch is a human need (there is much scientific and psychological information to support this), and, in hard and difficult times, people are even more in need of a hug. Our job as Cuddle Party Facilitators is to let people know that we’re here, we understand, and it’s a great gift to yourself to make sure you have sufficient amounts of touch and affection in your life. Going to a bar and blowing off some steam isn’t a bad thing, but getting a massage and a hug is a lot more healthy (and given the price of beer in New York City, cheaper than a night out at the pub!).

I see that the parties have started up in London – are there any plans for further expansion? (e.g. Norway??)

We trained someone in Norway, but they never got certified. We’d love to be cuddling more of the world and our training program is great for anyone who facilitates workshops or group meetings that have anything to do with intimacy, trust, communication, or relationships. It is our hope that Cuddle Parties will grow beyond the United States, Canada, Australia and England where they currently exist. Who’d have thought of cuddling as a career option or a resume builder, right? But given the world climate, what better way to help pay the bills than to teach people how to be more affectionate and get their touch needs met.

(BTW, there is actually a medical term called “skin hunger” that refers to touch deprivation and it’s psychological and psysiological affects.)

To Learn More About The Social Phenomenon I Co-Created!

To Get Trained to Run Cuddle Parties
Or Run Any Workshop Where Intimacy and Safety
Are Core Components…

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