MICHIGAN – Touch Positive Michigan has been organizing Cuddle Party workshops across Michigan since May of 2015. Events are held approximately once a month in Grand Rapids and the metro Detroit region. Touch Positive Michigan has two events coming up soon. One in Detroit January 23rd and another in Grand Rapids February 27th.
What is a Cuddle Party?
Cuddle parties are events that provide a fun, friendly, and safe space to be open, honest, emotional, and vulnerable with other like-minded people, all while satisfying the basic human need for positive touch. We encourage you to explore your personal boundaries by giving you an opportunity to practice asking for what you want, and to appreciate the power of responding to a request with an honest “yes” or “no.”
This is not a place to “hook up” with people. If you are expecting to come away from this event with anyone’s phone number, you will be disappointed. This is a strictly non-sexual event – our first rule is that everyone keeps their clothes on. Many people find themselves deprived of touch because of an unspoken expectation that it must lead to sex. Our message is that a cuddle can just be a cuddle, and you have no obligation to go beyond what you want.
Our second rule is that no one is obligated to touch anyone, ever. If you don’t feel like cuddling, you are welcome and encouraged to “sit on the sidelines” and do whatever it is you’d rather do – reading, writing, crafting, talking, snacking, or just taking a nap. It’s up to you!
More info about cuddle parties in general can be found atcuddleparty.com. This site is maintained by the original creators of the Cuddle Party workshop. Touch Positive Michigan is not affiliated with them, but we follow exactly the same format.
How does it work?
One part of the room is set up as the cuddle space. There will be foam padding, blankets and pillows on the floor, as well as couches and chairs. We put on some nice background music (my current mix is a handful of CDs by Karunesh and 2002), or a movie if there’s a small turnout. Another area will be the break room, with snacks, water and hot cocoa available.
Once everyone has arrived, we begin the welcome circle. Everyone is given a chance to introduce themselves and talk about what they hope to get out of the event, and then we go through a discussion of the rules of the event, along with some group exercises.
The exercises we do are:
- The “no” exercise: What might be the most difficult part of the welcome circle comes right at the beginning. Everyone chooses a partner, and then each will take a turn making a request or an offer to the other, who will simply answer “no.” Upon being rejected, we encourage you to respond by saying “thank you for taking care of yourself.”
- Talk about your favorite rule: Once we’ve discussed the first six rules, everyone once again picks a partner (someone different this time), and each has a minute to talk about which of the rules we’ve been over so far is their favorite, and why.
- Talk about your touch preferences: After all of the rules have been read through, everyone partners up again, and this time each has a minute to talk about what forms of touch they like the most, and perhaps which ones they like the least or would rather avoid.
- The hug exercise: Everyone has two minutes to go around the room and practice approaching whoever they want and asking for a hug.
- Negotiation: After the hug exercise, the free cuddling portion of the event is officially underway. To help get things started, we suggest that people gather into groups of three. Each will take a turn telling the others something they’d like to do together, and then, as a group, they will negotiate to find something that all three are a “yes” to.
All of the exercises are optional. Anyone is free to sit out any or all of them, if that is what they’d prefer.
The rules and agreements
Our events are governed by eleven simple rules:
- Clothes stay on the whole time.
- You are not obligated to touch anyone, ever.
- Ask for permission, and get a verbal “yes”, before touching anyone. Be as specific in your request as possible.
- If you’re a “yes” to a request, say “yes.” If you’re a “no”, say “no.”
- If you’re a “maybe”, say “no.”
- You are welcome and encouraged to change your mind.
- If you are in a relationship, communicate with your partner and respect your agreements with them.
- Get the event organizer if you have a question or concern, or need assistance with anything during the event.
- Tears and laughter are both welcome.
- Respect people’s privacy when sharing about the event.
- Keep the cuddle space tidy.