WAUKESHA - It's a pajama party for adults! But is it a little creepy, or comforting? We visited a local Cuddle Party
to see what it's all about.
Will Machay is a Cuddle Party facilitator across the Madison and Milwaukee area.
"I've always been a fan of touch since I was a little kid," he says.
On this day, he's hosting a Cuddle Party at The Compassion Center in Downtown Waukesha. 11 people showed up for the event--most of them total strangers.
The event starts with a 'Welcome Circle'. Will first goes through the 'Rules' of cuddling. He explains, "Introduce communication and boundary-setting skills needed to empower ourselves around touch and intimacy."
Will also leads the group through several icebreakers, including the 'Cow-Tip Exercise'. Participants first get on all fours in a circle and moo like cows. Then they tip onto each other. Will's explanation for the exercise is simple: "This is how we get a group of strangers to start cuddling!"
One of the most important rules of cuddling is that touch doesn't have to be sexual.
"There are people who sexualize certain types of touch, which in reality, the touch by itself isn't actually sexual. Kissing, holding hands, touching one another's shoulders--that does not have to be sexual," Will says.
But it's not just a big pajama party free-for-all. There are some strict boundaries, and participants can say 'no' at any time.
"There are obviously certain parts of the body that are off limits to be touched," Will warns.
Madelon Guinazzo came all the way from Chicago. This is her second Cuddle Party.
"What I discovered when I experienced it, it's just really how deeply relaxed I felt, and that wasn't something I anticipated," she explains.
Denny Hoelzel is from Appleton. He decided to try out cuddling for the first time. He admits his friends were a little skeptical.
"I mentioned it to probably about 30 of my friends over the last couple weeks about Cuddle Parties, and at first they're like 'Oh my God!'" Denny laughs.
After 2 hours of freestyle cuddling, everyone jumps into a big 'Puppy Pile'. The event closes with a 'Goodbye Circle'. All playfulness aside, Will hopes participants walk away with more than just a good back massage.
"I hope they've learned some communication skills that not only apply to Cuddle Parties, but apply in real life," he says.
Cuddle Parties cost about $20 to cover the cost of the facility and supplies. The event lasts about 3 1/2 hours. Will says he is the only certified facilitator in the state.