Vancouver embraces the Cuddle Party trend

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Need a hug? How about a non-sexual snuggle, having your hair brushed, or a friendly back rub? A Cuddle Party might be for you.

Vancouver boasts two official Cuddle Party facilitators, Karen Whittaker and Jon Lehrer, “each providing a distinctive environment and unique experience.” Participants sign up to attend the regular events around Metro Vancouver, held in homes and other “pleasing facilities,” according to the Cuddle Party website.

Whittaker described for The Province the Cuddle Parties she hosts as “a safe, caring, platonic adventure aimed at increasing awareness and communications skills.”

At a Cuddle Party, the rules are read aloud, reinforcing that any participant must get a verbal “yes” from their object of cuddle interest before proceeding. (The Tyee’s post “Six Rules of The Cuddle Party” is an illuminating read.)

In 2012, the Vancouver Sun’s The Search blog wrapped its arms around the notion of hugging as an international movement and health-positive way of connecting with others: “It’s not crazy talk. Behavioural science is providing evidence for what seems intuitively obvious: Hugging can be good for your well-being.”

In his Cuddle Party bio, Lehrer says at events he hosts, attendees will find: “Soft floors, warm facilitation, and a fun, supportive, cozy space for you to play, explore, and find the touch you seek!”

The kinds of attendees vary, Whittaker told The Province, and often include single men and women between relationships, or the single parents of kids who have grown up and moved away. At the end of her Cuddle Parties, Whittaker says everyone is “usually one big puppy pile.” Awww.

“Cuddle Party enthusiasts say Canadians tend to think hugs or massages always lead to sex,” notes the QMI Agency. Facilitators say there is arousal but it is not acted upon, and that there is no rule that consenting participants can’t opt to act on their arousal outside of the Cuddle Party and in another setting.

Currently official Cuddle Parties take place in Vancouver on the first Sunday of the month, and in Richmond on the second Sunday and third Saturday of each month.

Featured image: Finger smileys via Shutterstock

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Lindsay William-Ross Lindsay is a Senior Editor at Vancity Buzz, and currently runs the site's Food section. A fourth generation Vancouverite, she spent the last two decades in Los Angeles, where she was EIC of the city's top blog, earned her MA, attended culinary school, and was an English professor (among other things). Lindsay's first published piece was December 1980 in The Province; it was her letter to Santa. E-mail: lindsay@vancitybuzz.com
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