December 14, 2013
All around the nation, cuddle clubs and parties have been creeping up. A cuddle club or party is one in which all the participants engage in non-sexual touching, mainly hugging, snuggling, and cuddling. These have not hit the mainstream quite yet, but are popping up in cities nationwide. The Associated Press recently wrote about these, specifically one in Madison, Wisconsin, where the famously liberal city said, “No Hugs Allowed.”
So, what is the lowdown on the Madison cuddle club, called the Snuggle House? Well, for $60 customers can spend an hour hugging, cuddling, and snuggling with professional spooners, who are allegedly trained to do so and trained to watch for sexual assault. However, Madison police, city attorneys, and government officials as a whole question the practice. They are concerned with two things:
- Is it really a front for prostitution?
- How will they prevent sexual assault?
And, frankly, these are two really understandable questions. A cuddle club does sound pretty suspect. But other cities have not had these same concerns. As the AP explains, “Police in Rochester, N.Y., said they’ve had no complaints about The Snuggery, which offers overnight cuddle sessions. Be The Love You Are in Boulder, Colo., offers cuddles with “Snuggle Stars.” Cuddle Therapy in San Francisco offers packages that “focus directly with your current needs around connection, intimacy and touch,” according to its website. Police in San Francisco and Boulder didn’t respond to The AP’s inquires about those businesses.”
So, other cities around the US have not had many, if any, issues with sexual assault or prostitution in these cuddle clubs.
What makes all this even more suspicious is that the Snuggle House seems to have closed its doors. As the AP notes, recently it is not exactly clear whether the Snuggle House is open or not. No one answers the doors, phones, or email. An alleged Facebook page for the Snuggle House announced its closing, but will not confirm the owner is the same as the owner for the Snuggle House, whose name is Matthew Hurtado. Furthermore, Hurtado has not responded to any interview requests.
The only real contact from the Snuggle House came from Hurtado’s attorney, Tim Casper, who said that it is legitimate, not a front. Additionally, Casper claims that the business put precautions in place to protect both clients and employees.
To counter that, though, the AP explains that Madison city attorney, Jennifer Zilavy, said, “Hurtado initially had no business plan, no business insurance, no training protocols and no answers when she asked him what he would do if a snuggler was sexually assaulted.”
I get why the city of Madison is so suspect of cuddle clubs, especially of the Snuggle House. Plus, this business is different. Who knew that people would be excited to just go to a business for hugs and cuddling and snuggling?
But different does not have to mean wrong or suspicious. Who doesn’t like to snuggle with their loved ones? And if you have no loved ones – for whatever reason – what better place to go than one that promotes just hugging, just non-sexual touching? It is a safe place where people can hug and feel and connect with other humans. That seems like a really cool idea.
As the Cuddle Party, a nonprofit organization, says on its website, “It’s about compassion, affection and touch. It’s about touch that is not about sex.”
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