When I was a little girl, my mom tickled me to bed every night. She tickled my back, my arms, my legs, my head and my face until I drifted off to sleep, unable to plead for more. She’d tickle-bribe me to do homework. Bad days at school were salvaged with a little extra tickling. Her tickles were also an alarm clock and snooze button. No, I will not wake up before at least another 10 minutes of tickles! It’s safe to say, my addiction and reliable tickle-begging was the primary tactic my mother used to spend quality time with her eldest daughter.
In Madrid, Spain, one ahead-of-the-curve urban spa is now tickling the fancy of all the “misunderstood and neglected” tickling fiends like myself. It all started with a seemingly inconsequential conversation: “Can you imagine not having to beg for ten measly minutes of tickling well executed?” And the idea was born. The world’s first tickling spa, Cosquillearte, opened its doors in December, offering an assortment of tickling-only treatments.
Isabel Aires is the mastermind behind Cosquillearte (which translates to Tickle Yourself and Tickle Art), and her love for tickling developed very much like mine did. Quoted in this recent TIME article, “My dad used to tickle me to get me to go to sleep, so it’s always relaxed me,” she says. “One day I just thought, Why can’t I pay someone to do this, in the same way as I can pay for a massage?” After working with two trained massage therapists, Aires came up with a treatment. “There’s no school for tickling,” she says. “We had to invent it ourselves.”
You won’t find any tickle-torture/pee-in-your-pants treatments here (yeah, sorry about all those growing up Jess #terriblesister); although laughing is great for you, that’s the kind of tickling even devoted tickle fans fear. Using gentle fingers, feathers, four hands and other techniques to bring that warm chill to their clients, the spa has developed a cult-like following and garnered international media attention.
Like any service worthy of being called a “spa treatment,” tickling is also healing. It not only relaxes the body, reduces stress and puts the mind at ease, tickling is proven to soothe pain. According to a Swedish study, “The signals that tell the brain that we are being stroked on the skin have their own direct route to the brain, and are not blocked even if the brain is receiving pain impulses from the same area. In fact it’s more the opposite, that the stroking impulses are able to deaden the pain impulses.”
Although many folks tremble at the thought of tickling and would NEVER pay someone to do it (they would sooner pay someone to kill the person who won’t stop tickling them), there are enough fans that I do believe this is a trend that will begin to pick up internationally, and quite soon. Look out for spas offering tickling on their menus – we’ll let you know the moment we start to see it here.
For those who are already downloading Espanol apps and looking up the next flight to Madrid (easier than begging your husband another for yet another tickle), the treatment prices seem fairly reasonable. A 30-minute session at Cosquillearte is €25 ($35), for an hour it’s €45 ($60), or perhaps you’d like to try the ultimate 4-handed tickling experience for double the price.
So, what do you think? Would you pay someone to tickle you?
Photos courtesy of Cosquillearte’s Facebook page.