On Valentine’s Day, Portland will be the site of the world’s first cuddling convention, dubbed Cuddle Con by Samantha Hess, one of its organizers and a professional cuddler and cuddling industry leader whose business Cuddle Up To Me provides cuddling for $1 a minute.

Cuddle Con will bring almost 200 cuddle-hungry single and partnered participants to Portland for an event that celebrates the "cuddle movement" and "platonic touch." It will feature seminars on consent and cuddling, spoken-word poetry readings, close-embrace dance lessons with Wren LaFeet, and events including contact improv, pillow fights and, of course, snuggle parties in which participants get into "puppy piles."

"The first Cuddle Con," reads Hess' event description, "is a start-up event modeled after the basic idea of the first Comic Con, which started as an event designed to raise money for future conventions and serve as an annual anchor, launchpad and partner for the best of the best in the touch-positive world."

Hess told International Business Times that organizers "want people to incorporate platonic touch into their lives." Cuddle Con will also be an opportunity for other professional cuddlers and "touch professionals" to discuss the professionalization of the the cuddling industry. For her part, Hess wants the industry standardized, and will soon begin a 40-hour certification program that trains would-be professional cuddlers on safety, the best cuddling positions and how to market and advertise their services. 

008 Professional cuddler and co-organizer of Cuddle Con, Samantha Hess, preaches the value of platonic touch. Photo: Carla Axtman

The primary skill a professional cuddler needs, Hess told IBTimes, is empathy. "You need to make the person feel like you care about them. That you see them and that they matter. They need to feel that you want to be there. People want to be seen for who they are."

While cuddling services predictably serve a largely male clientele, Hess insists that since her business, Cuddle Up To Me, went “in-house,” the gender ratio of men seeking services to women in now 50/50. Now, she says, even women "who are mothers used to giving but not receiving," come to receive touch "without guilt." 

Portland appears to be the epicenter of cuddling. In 2002, it was the birthplace of Snuggle Parties, organized events that allowed groups of strangers to touch and cuddle with one another platonically. 

Hess promises that the Valentine's Day premiere of Cuddle Con will feature "snuggly surprises," including "a very special surprise announcement that will make headlines and change the course of the cuddle movement forever!"