Cuddle Phishing

Cuddle Parties are like sleepovers without rest, gossiping and putting bras in the freezer. (C'mon, you know that's what ALL sleepovers in grade school were like.)

I join the 10-odd boys and girls all ranging from their 20s to 60s at Wonderworks near Harbord and Spadina in my PJs and for the first hour, moderator/feng shui consultant Cecilia Moorcroft goes over the "rules" of Cuddle Party.

Cuddle Party is supposed to be platonic, non-sexual and all about intimacy and healing through touch. Fair enough. I was pretty interested in attending one of these many months ago when I first started going on this wild exploration of sexual espionage. I figured it would be a good starting point before getting into heavier things. Alas, no dice.

To sum up the rules: No means no for the most part. And you have to keep your clothes on. I found many people there seemed to have rejection problems - some couldn't say no, others dealt with feeling hurt when no was said to them. For the two hours after, we were all free to cuddle on the many blankets laid on the floor. But even though this wasn't supposed to be sexual, I found myself drawn to the food table and ended up mingling with a couple people for the next hour.

About five of us eventually ended up doing a soultrain-type spoon and flipped over to do 'The Wave' once in a while. We broke up and a couple of us ended up giving and receiving back massages. I saw others holding hands, getting their hair played with or just hanging out talking.

The part that kind of weirded me out was "the puppy pile," where all participants piled onto each other like a lazy cheerleader pyramid. It was kind of uncomfortable and I think someone squished my nads with their knees, so I sat out.

Cecilia suggested, as a closing ritual, for us to all huddle and stick our feet in as a cuddle pact of sorts. And with that, strangers had spent three hours being intimate together.

A bit too granola for me and I probably wouldn't go again, but I can see how it'd be useful for those wishing comfort and intimacy and as an opportunity to realize their own personal boundaries. Did I mention it cost $25?

But heading home on my bike, I was 100 per cent certain that spooning with a bunch of strangers was definitely not as intimate as spooning with my boyfriend. It's like a puzzle with crevices that only fit with certain people - and I don't know if you'd find that at a Cuddle Party.

photo: 2006 ŠJamesBeeler/BlackStarImages

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