What is a cuddle event?

Cuddle events started as a way to teach consent and communication skills in an embodied and experiential way, and to facilitate connection.

Cuddle events are guided social experiences that includes a welcome circle, easy relaxation activities, communication and consent exercises. It can also be thought of as social skills coaching. The event culminates in a “cuddle space” which is time to explore how you would like to connect with touch and no touch options introduced to you in the initial exercises. You can use this time to meet your needs, and the needs of others in a caring thoughtful way. You can practice saying your no and yes, ask for what you desire, give offers for connection, respond to the invitations of others and honour what is right for you.

Touch is non-sexual, always consensual, and never requirement to participate.

Will I have to touch someone I don’t want to?

No. Everyone in the event has control over their own experience. The exercises at the start establish how to communicate your needs and honour your boundaries. The exercises can be done with touch or without touch, depending on your preference. The event is also established in a way that the group understands and respects each individual’s self-care and boundaries. This is for all participants including the event leader. And remember you can change your mind at any time- you may start off with no touch and then wish to engage in touch, or you may start with touch and wish to stop. This will all be respected.

I’m concerned about touching strangers.

I love the quote, “There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t yet met.”

It’s not uncommon for people to feel daunted to go to a touch event with a new bunch of people. Once you get an introduction to the group in the welcoming circle and learn all the consent and communication exercises, you may feel surprised by how much you relax. It can feel freeing and empowering to know that you have complete control over your experience to your level of comfort. Some people choose to attend alone, with partner/s, or with a friend. Some people choose to engage by observing, having chats, hugs, massages, or cuddles. There are many ways and options demonstrated in how you may use your time in an event.  Demonstrated examples of how to connect using touch or no touch are shown. Participants often say that they enjoy the incremental introduction to touch.

Who attends cuddle events?

This is a common question when people are curious about attending cuddle events. Maybe there is curiosity about who it is they will be hanging out with? If I had to summarize who I’ve met at the cuddle events I’ve run, I would say people who are curious, courageous, kind, thoughtful, respectful, compassionate, funny and love community. And more. Wonderful people. People who attend are of all ages (adult), abilities and genders etc., as cuddle events are inclusive social gatherings.

How old are people that attend cuddle events?

Cuddle events are for people aged 18 and above. People attend of all ages, and you will usually find someone of a similar age there. Often, we have experienced age segregation especially in schooling but cuddle events embrace intergenerational connection. Think of it as meeting people in your village.

What are the cuddle event agreements and guidelines?

These guidelines are like the “etiquette of cuddling” and are in all event listings so that it’s clear to people what they are booking in for.  We’ll go over all of them and answer any questions you have at the start of the event. Here are some important ones:

  • Agree to confidentiality. You will not discuss or share anyone else’s experience with others. You may share your own experience.
  • This is a drug and alcohol free gathering. You need to arrive sober and maintain sobriety during the event. You may find yourself getting a natural high on oxytocin – often called the “hug hormone.”
  • There’s no touch required, and you can change your mind at any time.
  • Respect the boundaries of others (ideally with enthusiasm).
  • This is a non-sexual event so all behaviours and speech need to keep in alignment with that.
  • Ask and Wait – if you want to touch someone, ask. Then wait for the answer.
  • An understanding that if guidelines are not adhered to you may be asked to leave.

When it is explained that it is a non-sexual event it is clarified that this also means non-erotic and non-romantic too. Any touch that takes place is consensual (you learn communication and consent exercises), is over clothes, never in bathing suit areas of the body, or any other part of the body you would request not to be touched. You have control over whether you touch or not, and which parts of your body you feel comfortable receiving touch on. We use the ask and wait method for requesting any form of connection.

How long do cuddle events run for?

Cuddle events traditionally run for 4 hours, but I have also run them for 2 or 3 hours as well. All events start with the 45min-1hr mini workshop on consent and communication skills before heading into a cuddle space. Most people find when they have then deepened their relaxation and feel safe and comfortable after the first section, that they enter a timeless zone. Often as an event leader I feel reluctant to announce that we will ending in 10-15 minutes as everyone is so melty. And remember you can leave at any time, for any reason. Feedback from participants was unanimous for longer events please!

Why pay for cuddling?

You are not paying for the hugs and cuddles itself. You are paying for the running of an event where safety is established to allow you to engage with a wonderful new and/or familiar bunch of people whilst learning consent, boundaries and exploring touch.

You have a certified cuddle event leader who holds the space, leads the exercises, is available to answer questions, practice and connect with. The role of event leader is also to establish the agreements and guidelines and ensure they are maintained.

Your event fee also helps to pay associated costs in running events such as space hire, insurance, for the facilitators time (running the event, preparation, queries), maintaining a website and promotion.

Why do people attend cuddle events?

People enjoy coming to cuddle events for a variety of reasons. The first part of the event is a mini-workshop running for 45mins-1hr to learning consent and communication skills. It is an experiential event in which you can practice communication exercises for consent, respecting your own boundaries and the boundaries of others, say your yes and no, respond to other people’s yes and nos, and ask for connection and touch. This allows people to relax and choose how they would like to engage in the space. There are many opportunities for connection, with touch or without touch, where you have control with your experience and can honor your own boundaries. An event gives space to learn and practice all these wonderful skills. People enjoy attending events due to the safety that is established.

People attend as they:

  • are snuggle bugs (love platonic touch and want more)
  • want to learn consent & communication skills
  • what to experience safe platonic touch free of expectations
  • enjoy feeling connected to community
  • to enhance their mental and physical health
  • to meet their touch needs

My experience of cuddlers is that they are a friendly and awesome bunch of people.

Can anyone attend?

No. As these are consensual touch events please make an assessment on whether you are feeling stable and resourced enough to explore the practices on offer. You need to be able to engage your own self-care and personal boundaries. As a consent and communication event, a good understanding of the English language is required. Cuddling and connection can be therapeutic but it is not therapy. If your needs are greater, then one on one work may be a better fit for you. Life Spirals does not offer individual sessions, or have a referral system.

What are cuddlers?

Cuddler is an affectionate term used to describe people who enjoy cuddles. At times Tash also refers to people as Snuggle Bugs (people who enjoy snuggles). Tash is a proud cuddler and snuggle bug!

What should I wear to a cuddle event?

Dress in clothes that are comfortable for snuggling. Soft, cozy pyjamas, cotton t-shirts, trackpants, leggings are all welcome. Feel free to change clothes when you arrive. You are expected to remain appropriately clothed throughout the event.  Hygiene is important at cuddles – be clean and fresh – it’s easier to get close that way! Note: come free of perfumes, colognes, body spray, and cigarette smoke as some of us have sensitive noses.

Are events gender balanced?

No. Gender balancing means that there are equal amounts of men and women attending and doesn’t acknowledge the full range of genders in our community. The focus is on connection between people. As it is not a singles or dating event, or about coupling and is non-sexual, gender becomes irrelevant. I recommend these blogs from Cuddle Sanctuary:

Is it a singles event?

No. Cuddle events are not dating or singles events. It’s a place to explore safe platonic touch without any expectations. There is the possibility of making new friends and partners, however this is not the focus of the group.

Do you offer individual sessions?

No, Life Spirals only offers group events.

Please be aware that if you book an individual session with a cuddle provider that there is an intake process often involving a phone chat and identity check to ensure there is an understanding of the guidelines and what is offered, to find out what your needs are, and to ensure the safety of both the professional and client. Use your discretion to check their training.

Why do you not allow latecomers?

Once the opening circles begins, the doors close, and no latecomers can enter. It is important for everyone to be present to get to know each other, and to be present for the group agreements. This is important to create safety, allow people to relax and maintain group dynamics.

How did the cuddle profession start?

There is some uncertainty of when individual cuddle sessions started, but it seems it did in the US over 10 years ago. There’s some talk that a cuddle pioneer may be writing a book about this, so I’ll update if there’s a book release.

Cuddle events started in the US in New York in 2004 by Cuddle Party. My trainer, Cuddle Sanctuary, started in 2014.

How do I train to become a cuddle professional?

There are many trainers around the world for the cuddle profession. The cuddle profession is still an emerging and unregulated industry. They are working towards certification or the establishment of an association. The main leaders in the field are Cuddlist and Cuddle Sanctuary for individual session cuddlers, and Cuddle Party and Cuddle Sanctuary for cuddle event leaders. There are other trainers, and it is recommended to do you research and find what is a good fit for you. There are lots of opportunities for ongoing professional development.

Some reflections when thinking about becoming a cuddle professional may include:

  • am I comfortable with platonic touch, physical and emotional intimacy?
  • how do I handle boundaries, and can I hold boundaries for events?
  • how do I respond to the needs of others?
  • do I understand how to run a business?

In Australia you need insurance to hire and run events in community spaces which can mean becoming part of an association to acquire this. It also means having a current first aid certificate and undergoing a police check.