One thing that makes me happy is body contact, or the resulting oxytocin. I realized that at some point after hugging like 20 or 30 people on a nordic larp festival. After the latest one I went, I asked myelf the question if I go there to play the games or to hug people. So when I get to those events, meeting people I know and getting about 8-10 hugs I turn into a completely different person: Happy, relaxed, sociable, enthusiastic. When I get home, I usually get a bit of post-con-depression, but I’m feeling much more balanced for at least about one or two weeks afterwards.
After that I slowly sink down to depression again.
Having a Significant Other would be a good solution to fix my lack of body contact. But finding one has been proven immensely difficult for me so far. I’ll cover that topic later in another blog post.
So about two weeks ago, at a day when I was not feeling good, I searched the internet for a cuddle party and found this - conveniently in Cologne which is not too far away for me.
Yesterday I attended that party. The entrance fee was 17 Euro, started at 19:30, ending at 23-ish. I was there half an hour early at 19:00. Common age range from my estimation was about 50-65 with a gender mixture of 2/3 men, 1/3 women, which apparently was more balanced in former events.
At first I was highly nervous. There was a table with tea and carbohydrate-rich snacks set up and I couldn’t socialize with the people being around as early as me. Some of them knew themselves from previous parties and I listened to some conversations about astrological nonsense. To the people sitting alone and not talking I had discomfort talking to. At that point I felt like I was in the wrong place. I consumed some herb tea and waited for the party to start.
At the start of the party, we were sent to a big room with dimmed light which was filled with mattresses on the floor. We gathered up in a big circle, everyone had to say their name, their expectations, their fears about this party (if any), and to choose what kind of animal you would be this evening if you were a teddy bear. I stated that I was expecting oxytocine, feeling just a bit nervous and that I’d be a cat today, since my t-shirt had lots of cats on it.
The organizer then stated the rules. You have to ask before touching somebody, no touching of breasts and genital areas, no kissing, no pretend-sex. Strictly no drugs, strictly no alcohol, not even tiny amounts of. You could leave your partner whenever you wanted, but you were asked to thank the other person for the good time upon leaving. Also, there was the rule that have to wait for a “yes” or “no” when touching areas of another person’s body, which we tried in a training exercise.
We did the training exercise in three iterations. They played music and we were to move across the room until the music stops then pick the person that stands next to you. One person had to start and ask if they may touch you. The other person closed their eyes and said yes, no, or comments on if the pressure was good or the movements were too slow or too fast. On all three people I had, the conversation stopped shortly but I could sense the feeling of joy, which was feedback enough for me. After a few minutes we switched roles. It is quite hard to stay concentrated when you actually feel deeply relaxed and good about what another person is doing to you.
The nervousness quickly went away on this exercise as I finally started to enjoy the evening.
After that, we were distributed in groups of two female and three male people for guided body rubs. One person was lying on the (mattress-)floor, the other people had to rub that person in a specific way over a few minutes. This was repeated until everybody got the rub. At the point I was being rubbed, I actually felt a bit like a cat getting cuddles and felt really happy.
After that we could cuddle with whoever we wanted. A woman cuddled with me for a long while. After she left I tried a man, which was a bit less intense. But anyway, I had my oxitocin overdose at that point already.
Nearing the end of the evening, I exchanged a massage to a disabled person who had really really stiff muscles from sitting in the wheelchair for too long. He was really grateful for fixing his back nicely and he got my shoulder muscles relaxed a bit at least.
I was asked twice that evening if I was a working as a physiotherapist.
At the end of the party I needed to relax a bit from the overwhelming feelings, missed my train at 23:25 that way, but went for the 0:25 train home instead.
At home, it took me a while to get myself into sleeping mood, then slept well, but only for 5-6 hours. Feeling unusually good physically and mentally except being quite tired.
Cuddle parties are a great way to feel better and get oxitocin levels up!
This works really well if you are okay with being touched in a safe way by strangers.
Being really happy after being dangerously depressed is a really really good feeling.
Being happy and showing happiness makes random people more likely willing to talk to you (Most hilarious converation was a totally drunken guy who talked to me about sexuality at the central train station and then asked me “Hey, do you know where I am? I have no idea!”)