On a Saturday night in Venice, California, light spills from an open door on an otherwise dark street. The space appears to be an art gallery or studio: blank walls, cubbies for shoes and personal items and cushioned mats and pillows lining half of the room's hardwood floor.
This room is called The Love Dome and hosts events including yoga, dance and private parties. Every Wednesday and Saturday night, The Love Dome is host to Cuddle Sanctuary, an organization that leads group cuddle events, professional cuddling and training for professionals. This is one of their group cuddle sanctuaries.
The elephant in the room during some of these sessions, though, is the current state of the country's affairs. Since November – and the election of Donald Trump – professional cuddling services have seen a spike in client interest.
Franzblau created Cuddle Sanctuary in 2014, after attending her first group cuddle event, to help others realize their own touch needs. Since the election, Cuddle Sanctuary has seen 252 new clients beginning as early as the day following the election. The usual Wednesday night cuddle workshop following the decision was dubbed "Election Detox."
At times, the cuddle party Wyatt leads in Venice turns silent. Along one wall, participants sit stacked snugly in between another person's legs, one person using another's body as a support pillow; in the middle of the room is a spooning train; others sit side-by-side coloring.
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