Stressed Out? How About a Visit to the World's First Tickle Spa?

I watched The Great Beauty last night – Paolo Sorrentino’s ode to Rome, a satire on high society decadence. In one scene the lead character Jep Gambardella, a journalist and ageing playboy has a meal with one of his confidantes who calls herself ‘the Queen of Misfits’.

“How’s the soup, little Jep?” she asks him. 

“You’ve not called me that for centuries, why now?”.

“Because a friend, every now and again, needs to make their friend feel like they did as a child.”

“How can I make you feel like a little girl?”

“You don’t need to, I feel like a little girl every day,” she laughs. 

To tap into that energy Jep throws lavish parties for his aristocratic friends where they do the “best Conga in Rome”. He dances and has lots of sex.

Touch is a basic need, it connects body and mind and keeps us in the moment. Not being touched enough can make us feel withdrawn, lonely, anxious and depressed. In Western cultures, massage is an expensive ‘treat’, a luxury rather than part of our daily routine, as it is in Eastern countries. Massage shouldn’t be something we have to pay a lot for, it helps us to feel connected to ourselves, the planet, and that youthful energy Jep is craving. I’m mindful of this when I see friends and like to give them a hug and a kiss hello because I know how important touch is and what a difference it can make to someone’s sense of well-being. 

CosquilleArte in Madrid is a spa doing something a bit different. It’s ‘the world’s first tickle spa’ and has built up a steady roster of clients from children and teenagers to 70-year-olds, and is looking to set up franchises around the world. Intrigued? Here’s a comment piece by Andrew Kuzyk.

Tickling Therapy: No Laughing Matter

Laughter is truly the best form of medicine, right? CosquilleArte, which recently opened in Madrid, now offers half-hour and hour tickling sessions for $35 and $45 respectively in its treatment rooms, where clients can lie down on a comfy massage table…and be tickled. The name of this particular spa, CosquilleArte can be translated to “tickle yourself” or “tickle art” Time.com stated.

“My dad used to tickle me to get me to go to sleep, so it’s always relaxed me,” says owner Isabel Aires, who helped develop the tickling treatment with two trained massage therapists. “One day I just thought, why can’t I pay someone to do this, in the same way as I pay for a relaxing massage?”.

“There is no school for tickling”, she said. “We simply had to invent it ourselves.” With an environment much like many other day spas, the treatment takes place in a darkened room, with soothing music playing and a hint of incense in the air, Time’s Lisa Abend reports.

The client lies down lightly draped with a warm, soothing towel and then the sensual tickling, first with fingertips drawn along the relaxed body, then a delicate feather and so the tickle massage begins. “We use a variety of strokes”, says therapist Lourdes Nieto. “If someone is extra ticklish, we may press firmer. The idea is to completely relax them, not to stress them out in any way.” Abend, while extremely ticklish, confirmed that the treatment was in fact very relaxing and reported that everybody seems to leave happy and hooked on tickling.

Writing this article led me to think, as I have a hundred times before, how much physical touch can give comfort: the delicate stroking a mother gives to her child, the gentle rub on the back of someone who is grieving. Touch has great value, it communicates so much; it makes us all feel good when done properly of course. Our bodies respond to it. I don’t know how widely known this is, but if your partner is experiencing physical pain, light stroking or tickling, especially along the midline of the body, can help immensely.

Tickling stimulates the hypothalamus, which is part of the human brain that controls our body temperature, hunger and sensual behavior. Many people therefore find being tickled and touched a sexual turn-on. If both parties are game then tickle away. Using a sleep mask or blindfold can actually enhance the sensations of touching and double the pleasure enjoyed. The soles of the foot contain concentrated bundles of nerve endings, over 200,000, which make the feet very sensitive and receptive to foot rubs or tickle rubs.

I have personally observed this to be true for myself and others I have touched. Most people are ticklish in some way, whether all over or just in a small “tickle spot”. One doesn’t usually have to look far to find a ticklish spot. Tickling and caressing makes us laugh, smile and feel physical pleasure. Some people like tickling for the way it creates bonding and brings you together, while others enjoy it in more intimate settings. Whether you are being intimate or simply relaxing, tickling can certainly lighten your mood.

Non-consensual tickling should never be administered on any individual.

CosquilleArte Vitoria
www.vitoria.cosquillearte.com