Cuddle workshops for the lonely

2012-11-25 11:37

(Shutterstock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

London -The lilting beat of "Don't Worry, Be Happy" sets the tone. Green and red scatter cushions fill the floor and nervous strangers sit around awkwardly, preparing to get up close and personal at a "cuddle workshop".

Organiser Anna Nathan announces the rules in a comforting voice.

"You don't have to do anything you don't want to do," the 36-year-old tells the two dozen men and women sat round in a circle in a dance studio in north London.

"Keep a layer of clothes on. Place your sexual energy to one side. No kissing."

Today's students include a recently divorced 30-something "in need of a hug", some long-term singletons, a young man who's "very annoyed" with his girlfriend, and a retired man - who are all about to get to know each other much better.

The room is cool, and apart from one or two people in T-shirts, the participants are all wrapped up warm.

Touch briefly

Exercise one: walk around in time to the music, clicking your fingers, and get to know people by briefly touching their fingers, shoulders, feet, ears and finally their hips.

The first moves are hesitant, but laughter quickly erupts, breaking the tension.

Over the next four hours, Nathan and her co-host Neil Urquhart, 42, divide the class first into pairs, then small groups, and guide them through stroking each other all over their body, torso and pelvic area excluded.

"At some point, I was like: wait, I am just cuddling someone I just met," said Bailey, a 20-year-old American student.

"In any other place this would be weird. But because we are coming to a workshop, it's fine."

She admitted to being surprised at finding such a class in London - "if I expected this type of thing to be anywhere, it's in California, with some hippies."

Lie down together

For the final exercise, the small groups break up and everyone is asked to lie down together on the floor, where they touch and hold each other - while still respecting the rules.

"I feel really relaxed. I likened it to taking ecstasy tablets. It reminds me of that experience," confessed one euphoric cuddler, Grace.

The workshop, which costs $46 for a session and takes place about twice a month on a Sunday afternoon, is not met with exclusively positive reactions.

"Some guy had a really freshly laundered shirt, and I was like, 'that's nice, that's so comforting'," said Bailey.

"But the next person, I was like 'noooo, that's not that comforting, you could have tried better, come on!' And I was like: 'Oh my God, I hope I don't smell'."

Hug everyone

Participants are advised beforehand to avoid wearing strong perfume or aftershave.

The inevitable concern about such workshops is they might attract people wanting more than an innocent cuddle.

But Nathan and Urquhart keep a watchful eye on the proceedings, and they insist they have only had to intervene a few times since the workshops started two years ago.

"We've never had to separate people or pull them apart," said Urquhart.

The aim of the workshop, similar to the cuddle parties that have taken off in the United States, is to provide some comfort in a society where social interaction increasingly takes place via telephone or a computer screen.

Returning to the outside world is a jolt, but the organisers soften the blow by arranging for those who want to have dinner together nearby.

"If I had to go straight to the street and public transport, I would feel kind of cold and alone," said Andrew, a single man aged 42 with 10 workshops under his belt. "I want to hug everybody I see, if they are going my way or not."

Dinner also offers participants a chance to arrange to meet people they have met at the workshop for more cuddles --this time perhaps with no rules.

Read more on:    uk  |  health
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Touw River sandbars breached

2014-04-24 21:00

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

The rich will pay - Mpofu

The EFF in Gauteng will focus all its energy on improving the lives of the poor, the party's premier candidate Dali Mpofu says.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Watch what happened when we blindfolded Helen Zille and asked her to eat random things
13 days to elections - news you need to know
11 Julius Malema quotes you'll never forget
DA won't get 30% - Zille
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Tuesday Century City - 05:58 AM
    Road name: Ratanga Road Southbound
    ROADWORKS - lane closure between Ocean Spirit Avenue and Century Boulevard (until mid April)
  • Tuesday Mitchells Plain - 05:58 AM
    Road name: Spine Road
    ROAD CLOSED between Weltevreden Drive and Seafarer Drive due to roadworks (until mid April)
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Mother’s Day special offers!

Spoil mom with these awesome specials that will warm her heart. Shop now!

Twisp – the smoking alternative

Buy any 2 refills for R250 and save R149. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Mother’s Day specials on appliances

Browse our range of Mother’s Day appliances to spoil and pamper mom. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Curve 9380

The first BlackBerry Curve smartphone with a touch screen Stay connected...

From R1799.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be more sensitive today and can be influenced easily by the energies around you. Try not to be swayed too much by the...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.