Inside a Cuddle Party (video)


Current's Tania Rashid bravely ventures into the world of cuddle parties, a phenomenon that ranks very high on the most-ridiculed-subcultures list -- say, right below furries and filk. The resulting piece does not poke unkind fun. But I will not lie: the promo frame they chose absolutely creeps me out, and I want to go wash my eyes out with bleach right about now. First Time Cuddle Party (Current, thanks Brent Marcus)

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  1. You know, I rate toe-sucking as a definite non-cuddling activity. I’m not sure what I would do if someone asked me for a hug (a cuddling style activity), then tried to get one of my toes in their mouth.

  2. Dude, you’re all adults. What’s with the “cuddling” as though you’re innocent little kids? I mean, I’m not a fan of orgies, but if you’re getting a group of adults together for some physical affection, get naked or go home.

  3. Hrm. I wonder who wrote the copy for it, that claims “non-sexual touching?” Last time I checked, toe-sucking was most definitely a sexual behavior. Not to mention…ewww. I had to click off the video as soon as that came on.

  4. 1) That toe sucking. Yeah… Um… No.
    2) This is one wacky joke close to being a self-parody. Why isn’t Mr. Show still on the air?
    3) That said I just had to pull a 5 day dead mouse out from under my oven, so this video helped put my minor domestic tragedy in purpose.

    Oh, anyone rubs me with an herbal rag can suck it. The rag that is.

  5. If someone says cuddle, I picture clothed holding. Toe sucking is, at least in my opinion, sexual. It is a naked or naked-making activity. It does not have the same connotations for me as holding someone who is also clothed for the purpose of comforting (cuddle = creation of comfort by relatively chaste touching.)

    Now if someone made that clear in the invite, I’d be making a better informed decision and I’d be a little less weirded out by the whole thing. I supose this is an argument of semantics, but it’s a semantic that I’d want to know about up front.

  6. Hey, I went to one of those once.
    Except it was on my living room floor.
    With a bunch of acid.
    And a couple empty bottles of tussin.
    And I guess I was 19.
    Oh god.

  7. Back in the early rave days (SanFran, 1989-93) after an event we’d all end up in a pilled-up pile on the floor, laying on each other in a darkened room while listening to ambient/chilled house or watching a movie while we came down. It was a mildly sensual atmosphere with massages/ back rubs, but it was NOT sexual.

    *That’s* what I thought this would be like.

    I am disappointed.

    The very act of asking a stranger if you can suck their toes makes you a perv, not a cuddler…

  8. Did the narrator say that “when we are touched, a chemical is released in our brain called oxytosin”?

    WTF is oxytosin?

  9. Definitely would not want to do that without a nice shot of E. Then it’s fun because it’s not weird, it’s a totally natural part of the universe you happen to be in!
    Bah to all who say you don’t need drugs to be happy!

  10. Oxytocin is a neuroactive chemical produced inside your brain (I think it’s a neurotransmitter) which has a mild euphoric effect. It is released whenever someone you love, trust or who is not threatening smootly touches you.

  11. Exactly how is asking to be warned/arguing semantics prudish? I don’t think I’ve ever been accused of prudery. Ever.

    It’s an interesting (and funny) sensation.

  12. Ok, thanks. I have read about oxytocin, I’ve been informed. Still, the whole cuddle party scene seems a bit exclusive to me. Where are the non- middle/upper class, non- good looking people?

    IMHO, phooey.

  13. Waaaiiit a minute??!?!?!?! Men make oxytocin? This is the breastfeeding hormone. It is produced during breastfeeding, nature’s way of keeping mom from throwing that screaming thing against the wall. Of course, how can it scream with a booby in its mouth. But it is a cycle- baby cry>put boob in its cakehole>stop crying>oxytocin production>hey! I love this thing>put it down smiling>it wakes up crying>shut it up…get the picture? ooooh how I love’s me some evolutionary adaptive traits.

    So I just checked and men do not make oxytocin. So wtf are they there for? Oh yeah…toe sucking.

  14. I second Escoton – y’all seem uptight. Maybe you should go cuddle someone.

    Also, they sent the wrong person – she enjoyed going to a cuddle party, because she said no a lot? Maybe they could have sent someone who, you know, actually wants to touch people. Next on Current – Tania Rashid goes to an Ethiopian restaurant and eats a hamburger while suspiciously eyeing other diners’ meals.

  15. Everybody makes oxytocin. When you pet a dog, both you and the dog get a nice oxytocin spike.

    I’m not going to speculate on sucking the dog’s toes, though. There, my line is drawn.

  16. @31- I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who noticed that. Cuddle parties rock because I can tell people DONT TOUCH ME. Lame.

  17. A) That’s probably a trailer if it’s in the high desert. Big kudos for finding a roomful of people with all their front teeth, cuz that’s heavy tweaker territory up there.

    B) I think that I know the toe-sucker.

    C) Gay men (at least the ones who leave the house) just lie around in heaps and normally greet each other with a fat smack on the lips. Cuddling loses its charm when it becomes so self-conscious.

    D) Did that guy really try to wipe the valley girl with a rag dipped in secret special sauce?

  18. Tania seems very open-minded. What with her disdain for
    -White People
    -Big people
    -Old people

    The freaked out commentors on here having an arachnophobic reaction are very entertaining. Clearly American society has a real issue with physical boundaries. Seeing men holding hand or kissing when I was in the Middle East made me aware of just how phobic we are in the US.

    It’s not for me, but I’m not freaked out by people cuddling. Better they should be at a bar drinking or some other more socially acceptable means of socializing?

  19. It’s not for me, but I’m not freaked out by people cuddling. Better they should be at a bar drinking or some other more socially acceptable means of socializing?

    Pritmuch.

  20. I don’t know what’s going on here. These people are doing something most of us don’t understand (makes them mutants) and they look happy (so I guess they’re happy). Just because they are kind of uncool and some are somewhat ugly doesn’t mean they can’t be happy mutants too.

  21. everybody, calm down! that man is not sucking on those toes! i recognise him, that is Zamfir, master of the pan-flute, and he is just practising on his new instrument, the toe-flute.

  22. I lold at “I’ve never had brown before”.

    And shush, MGFartly. I’m a little hapa girl, and I would feel completely nervous about participating in something so intimate with strangers, especially if I’m the youngest one and a person of color – it’s not about being open or not.

    With that said, I lurve plopping down on my baby right when his bladder is full in the morning. <3

  23. I can’t put my finger on why this creeps me out so much. Maybe because it’s organized and not spontaneous. And the toe-sucking is NOT cuddling AT ALL.

    It’s certainly “better” than those poor elderly people who go to five doctors appointments a week just to have some human contact and (albeit professional) concern.

  24. I’ve lived in party houses where many movie nights would disolve into a non-ecstasy induced cuddle-puddle. It was all with friends and was almost never sexual (there are rooms for that). It just seems like they way the these people go about their cuddle party is…off. Structured cuddling? This sort of thing is a mangnet for toe-sucking swarmy d00ds.

  25. Wow. Not to harsh on anyone, but I’m kinda surprised and disappointed by the responses here. Toe-sucking aside (that’s not part of the cuddle party ethic as it’s been described to me — I’ve never been to one, but friends have), what the heck is wrong with getting together for a bit of non-sexual physical contact? The people complaining about blue balls or asking why they don’t just get naked and fuck are missing the point — hugging, cuddling, snuggling, and so on are great all on their own, not just as a means to a sexual end, and if you aren’t getting enough of them in your day-to-day life why not go to a party where you can enjoy some basic human contact? With predetermined boundaries so creeps looking for a cheap thrill don’t get in? I’m, happily, socially involved in subcultures — folkdancing and SF fandom — where casual snuggling is commonplace, and I have a snuggly wife as well, but if I were contact-deprived I might consider a cuddle party. What’s with the squeam and the prudery? Am I just stuck in the 70s?

    (That said, toe-sucking is sexual for me as well, and seems like a good way to get yourself booted from a cuddle party.)

  26. @#39 POSTED BY MGFARRELLY

    Tania seems very open-minded. What with her disdain for -White People -Big people -Old people

    You know, you’d have a point. But for one thing: I can’t think of something whiter than coming up with the idea or a “cuddle party”.

    Whatever happened to going out with friends, having some drinks and then holding each other up on the way home?

  27. I personally feel like I’ve won the lottery any time one of my friends gives me physical affection aside from an obligatory hug at meeting, despite the fact that I’m one of the most distant, disaffected personalities you’ll ever encounter. I have a rollicking good sex life with my loving husband, but sometimes a girl just wants a hand massage from her girlfriend.

  28. This comment thread is not BoingBoing at all. It’s more like a slumber party of tween-age girls squealing “Omigod! Gross!” in unison as they watch a PG-13 rated movie.

    Yes, we’re oh-so evolved and enlightened, as long as nobody questions our axioms that touching and sex are synonymous, or can only be spontaneous and unforeseen.

  29. …You know, even though I got my new fake leg this afternoon, I still don’t want any degeneate freak sucking on my toes.

  30. Do what you want, but I disagree with the woman toward the beginning of the video saying that we get “anxious” if we go without cuddle-type contact for 3 days or longer. I get WAY more anxious if I’m cuddling with strangers, or even friends or family than going without being touched by random people. I’m really only comfortable cuddling with my S.O., and I don’t think it’s a result of growing up in such an “anti-cuddling society” like the U.S. Some of us like to cuddle/be touched as a general desire, some of us only enjoy it when it’s a limited activity with a particular threshold of intimacy. Just follow your bliss, and don’t try to diagnose me, eh?

  31. I guess I’d have to partially agree with some… It does seem off – I agree with and approve of ‘cuddling’ and human contact, but I don’t like the strangers aspect. I don’t like to be touched AT ALL if I don’t at least somewhat know the person. That level of prudence is just common sense in this day and age.
    Having said that, it’s really none of my business if other people choose to engage in said activities. There is more unusual behavior out there, so this really isn’t a total shocker.

  32. @48: are you literally pickled daikon?

    “Person of color” is not a perfect label, but it’s a personal one charged with political significance – gt vr t. /thread hijack.

  33. Is that guy sucking on that woman’s foot!? Eeeew…Well, okay, I love it done to me…But I really don’t think sucking toes is considered cuddling, no? The whole thing looks fun tho!

  34. a nutritious,provenant and colourful addition to any diet. Bitter at times, but also refreshingly tart. Cheap too. And above all, humble, gawds, how humble! (we’ll leave out the “wizened, leathery” etc. etc.)

  35. i used to go to these types of parties – the were called E-parties back then and it wasn’t oxycotin it was another chemical we orally ingested that made us feel so great and the pill was the fascillitator not a blond hippie chick…

    so basically – it’s good for guys because they can directly ask if they can touch cute girls and it’s good for girls because they can turn guys down and feel emporwered?

    interesting…

  36. I wonder whether any of these people have heard of Luie Luie. His “El Touchy” (as heard on “Songs in the Key of Z”) could be an anthem for cuddle parties.

  37. ::sigh:: sometimes I really don’t understand people … not the people in the video, the people writing some of these comments.

    Sure, they could be having sex. But sex is a lot less fun if you don’t cuddle. And, guess what! It turns out that cuddling is quite nice too! And you can sometimes cuddle a whole bunch of people without your partner getting angry at you!

    Also, if you’re thinking that a cuddle is a missed opportunity for sex, then I’m willing to bet that you’re (a) male, (b) fourteen.

    Granted, I’d rather be cuddling friends than strangers. And I’m not sure about the toe-sucking: but presumably he asked and she said yes. Whether it’s a turn-on for either of them is their business.

    Apologies for the rant, but really: I would have thought that BB was the one place strange lifestyles wouldn’t be automatically shot down in flames.

  38. Sure, sure, it’s totally non-sexual. There’s another reason entirely that the cuddling is almost entirely heterosexual. Of course. Maybe it was just a coincidence. That guy was about to suck a dude’s toes next.

  39. I’ve been to cuddle parties. They’re enjoyable. I don’t know that this is that, though. A good cuddle party should be organized somewhat along the lines of a good orgy, though.
    1) invite only.
    It should be people everyone is comfortable with.
    2) no sex or sexual activity
    The people involved should actually have a happy, healthy sex life also, so sex doesn’t even enter into it. Being annoyed that there’s no sex at a cuddle party is like saying you’re annoyed that there’s no hamburgers at a pizza place. They’re different things. Both enjoyable, and even possible to enjoy together, but different things nonetheless.
    3) Furries? Filk? Really?
    Comon. Everyone knows the bottom of the WTF Fetish pile is Furry Ageplay. Pretending to be a diapered two year old cross between a fox and a human is definitely more weird than liking to touch… (hey, any activity is okay if you can point to something else and say, “ew, that’s way more gross,” and Furries are the geek commmunities designated weirdo scapegoats…)

  40. I’ve been to cuddle parties. They’re enjoyable. I don’t know that this is that, though. A good cuddle party should be organized somewhat along the lines of a good orgy, though.
    1) invite only.
    It should be people everyone is comfortable with.
    2) no sex or sexual activity
    The people involved should actually have a happy, healthy sex life also, so sex doesn’t even enter into it. Being annoyed that there’s no sex at a cuddle party is like saying you’re annoyed that there’s no hamburgers at a pizza place. They’re different things. Both enjoyable, and even possible to enjoy together, but different things nonetheless.
    3) Furries? Filk? Really?
    Comon. Everyone knows the bottom of the WTF Fetish pile is Furry Ageplay. Pretending to be a diapered two year old cross between a fox and a human is definitely more weird than liking to touch… (hey, any activity is okay if you can point to something else and say, “ew, that’s way more gross,” and Furries are the geek commmunities designated weirdo scapegoats…)

  41. @55: You’re right. Not everything has to be about sex. But this is. And people seem to be in serious denial about it.

    There’s nothing wrong with something being about sex.

  42. foot rub: clothed activity which can be safely performed on someone you are not dating, though it implies a close friendship/trust. This involves hand to foot contact.

    toe-sucking: foreplay intended to cause arousal and a physiological reaction in the person. (Since, in my experience, someone sucking your toes has the side-effect of causing groin tingles, this is absolutely foreplay.)

    foreplay: action which is designed to simulate sexual arousal, usually as a precursor to sexual activity

    Noticing the fact that shrimping is foreplay does not make the person noticing a prude.

    Neither does not liking or understanding why someone would do something. Prudery is the act of being agressively or excessively attentive to decorum, so unless the readership of boingboing suddenly develops a code of sexual conduct or you can trace the etimology of disapproval here to something which is clearly a societal norm (is there one for tow-sucking?) and the disapproval to an attempt to circumvent toe-sucking from happening as opposed to a statement of personal dislike, prudery is not an applicable judgment.

    I like things that I’m sure squick people out, but I usually try to avoid passing categorical judgment on the people who don’t like what I do. (But I can’t imagine why people wouldn’t like a brisk beating and the use of ropes. Those bastards.) ;)

  43. Alright. So toe sucking is rather sexual. So what? So cuddling might feel just nice – or might start to feel a little sexy. So what? As miss sweetness and light noticed, ( and boy did she notice) You can say no.
    Plenty of parties I go to end up in cuddle puddles. It’s great.
    It took time getting used to – but I love how much people in Brasil touch. Touch – at least for most people is a really great thing. (In a safe unthreatening setting)
    I actually think sending Alexis to that party was unfair to the rest of the people there. I mean – good for her – she learned she can say no – a lesson I hope she takes into the rest of her life, but she went in with a – ‘ew! People who go to a cuddle party must be icky.’ attitude. That’s pretty immature and close minded.

  44. @#39 POSTED BY MGFARRELLY

    “Tania seems very open-minded. What with her disdain for -White People -Big people -Old people”

    She wasn’t stating disdain… she was predicting who would be at the party, and for the most part she was right. So its not so much a statement of repulsion (as she very well may be), but a sociological educated guess.

  45. Cuddle parties can be okay.

    This one is not.

    I find it interesting that, while the curly-haired woman says that they began the cuddle party thing as a way for friends to touch each other, the facilitator later says something like, “We were all strangers a few hours ago.”

  46. My nomination for Creepiest Moment in a bbTV Vlog:
    Dude with the “scented herbs” in his rag.

    In reality, it’s probably scented with … chloroform!

    (Watch out, Tania! Tania, NO! Oh, too late.)

  47. If mouth-on-toes action is sexual, I’ve had sex with dozens of dogs this week. Or they’ve had sex with me. Whatever.

  48. i guess feet are an acquired taste. nyuk.

    it really is up to them whether toes need to be involved in group acts of intimacy, but i personally always thought that cuddling with strangers AT LEAST implied socks.

  49. ok, I’m way late in on this, but…

    Humans are social animals. Social animals use full-on physical affection as a greeting and bonding mechanism… including the higher primates, which humans are only a few genes away from…

    So why has affection been formalized down to a quick hug or handshake in most situations? I think that’s where a lot of depression and isolation comes from. Cuddle parties, for some, are like getting your affection fix in one big dose.

    And we have Xeni once again putting furries at the top of the weirdo list. Wow, there’s some definite obsession at work here.

    However, furries and cuddle parties do belong together… Furs feel a kinship or likeness with a particular non-human species. That concept has been around since it was called totems in shamanism. Even those that don’t make a sexual fetish out of it (and most of them don’t by the way!) tend to recognize and fulfill that animal need for physical affection. It’s not a big deal to them, it’s just natural.

  50. The fact they charge for the “facilitation” classes to the tune of $500 is lame… especially when coupled with the fact they CHARGE cuddlers ($20-$40) to attend parties.

    Who knew that cuddle party was an MLM scheme?

    From cuddleparty.com:

    (Training fees are $495. Student rate $245. These rates include a non-refundable application fee of $100, all training and materials fees, and lunch and snacks for all training days.

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