THE location and time is a closely guarded secret, the participants are strangers, and anyone who turns up inappropriately dressed is hurriedly issued with a smock.
It may sound like Edinburgh’s latest bizarre secret society but this new underground group has only one innocent aim – cuddles.
In a move that takes the meaning of “group hug” to a whole new level, people who have never met are being invited to touch and cuddle each other to “feel the physical connection that can be missing” at an event next month.
According to the Cuddle Group website, “absolutely no” sexual contact is involved and the Edinburgh cuddle fest, which takes place on April 18, is only “about sharing intimacy and affection” in a safe environment.
Anyone wanting to find out more though may struggle. Mysteriously, anyone interested is being asked to register online, and will then receive an e-mail confirmation of the venue just ahead of the date.
Cuddle Group organiser and founder Frank Shapiro, a life coach, would reveal little detail about the Edinburgh meeting.
But he said the aim of the group was to help people understand the emotional power of a simple cuddle.
“Sometimes you just need a hug, to be close to other people and feel the physical connection that can be missing,” he said. “A hug with a family member or friend is great but to hug with people and experience the cuddle connection gives a feeling of sharing that often can’t be described.
“It is about sharing intimacy and affection with people you are connected to.
“It is about putting what we learn about ourselves and our fellow humans into practice. Many humans lack a non-sexual intimate place to grow, share and communicate what they know, which is emotionally and physically safe.”
The group will even have its own dress code, with participants asked to bring loose clothes and anyone forgetting issued with a cuddle group long smock to wear. Every effort is made to make participants feel at ease, with only first names given and sessions held behind closed doors to avoid those outside the group looking on.
Similar events are said to be a growing international scene, with Cuddle Group events taking place in Glasgow, London, Bournemouth and even the Costa del Sol. Its website even advertises cuddle holidays.
The craze is one which has been sweeping across America, where it originated in church groups. Some of the larger groups are even reported to be having holding “cuddle parties”. If the Edinburgh event proves a success, it could even move into the workplace.
Mr Shapiro added: “We hold cuddle groups open to the public in different venues but we also cater for people who would like to have their own private cuddle group for a group of friends, workmates or even local activity group.”