NYC singles say ‘cuffing season’ is back after the pandemic

On Oct. 27, a “cuffing” party raged at The Factory 380, a neighborhood bar in Kips Bay. The bash, where REYKA vodka cocktails were served in tall-stemmed glasses handcuffed together, marked the official start of the season when ready-to-mingle singles look for a partner to settle down with for the winter.

As a live band played sing-along classics, singles looked over their shoulders to see if any potential partners were in the room.

“The cuffed cocktails were great conversation starters,” smiled one 30-year-old reveler who works in advertising and lives in Greenwich Village and didn’t want to be named. “It was a great way to kick off the search for cuffing season.”

“Cuffing” comes from the idea that it’s better to have a constant snuggle partner when it’s cold outside instead of having to trek through bad weather to meet strangers for first dates. Long popular among millennials, the season was skipped entirely last year due to the COVID pandemic but now — with vaccination rates high and New York City bars open — the season is most certainly back on.

“Cuffing season is definitely going to be very strong this year,” said Rithy Muth, 25, a software engineer who lives in Gramercy Park. “The pandemic has made people want to commit [but] we couldn’t really meet new people. Now we can, so I think people are invested in meeting one another for more than a one-night thing. It would be nice to find someone; I’m not going to lie.”

Data from Tinder, the dating app, shows there’s been a 30 percent increase in mentions of cuffing between September 1 and November 1, with singles putting sentences like “fully vaxxed and accepting pre-cuffing season applications” in their profiles. Mention of hookups are also on the decline, dropping 23 percent in member profile bios in the same time period. Meanwhile, events like Art Basel in Miami Beach (in December) and Sundance Film Festival (in January) that attract singles from all over the world are once again in full swing, giving plenty of opportunities to meet a winter warmer.

Three Day Rule, an elite matchmaking company with a presence in New York City, said it generally receives more clients this time of year, and “this year our member numbers walking into the winter have spiked,” said Erika Kaplan, one of the matchmakers. Amy McCloskey, owner of Madame X, a sexy bar on Houston Street, said she’s seen a lot of patrons flirting and wooing each other this cuffing season. 

“People were stuck at home, and they are ready to go out and find connections,” McCloskey told The Post. “Whether it’s a temporary connection or a semi-permanent connection for the winter I can’t say, but that desire to make a connection is absolutely, unequivocally true.”

Some singles say there is even more of a need for a cuffing season this year.

“Over the summer people really just sort of experimented and went wild,” said David Cirillo, 25, who works in the communications department for Vox Media and lives on the Lower East Side. “Now we need to take it easy and find something more stable and something that gives us comfort.”

“It’s sort of like after a really big night out when you want to settle down on the couch the next day to watch a movie,” he added.

He believes cuffing season has come a little late this year, because mild temperatures in
October made it feel like a continuation of summer. But now that it’s finally cold outside, cuffing season is upon us. “During that cold spell last week I had so many people reach out at the same time,” he said. “I went on a date every day last week.”

Joy Siao, 30, who works in sales for a tech company and lives in Manhattan, remembers how miserable she was last winter during the pandemic. “I was so depressed,” she said. “It was the coldest winter ever, and a lot of my friends had left the city. I was so lonely, and I wasn’t ready to go on dates until I was vaccinated.”

Those memories, and the trauma from it, have made the search for a partner this cuffing season even more urgent.

“My girlfriend told me what to do. She said you need to create a lineup,” she said. “You start with six people and go on a first date with all of them in a week. Then the next week you eliminate one person and again the following week.”

“It won’t be hard,” she added. “I am a romantic. When the snow starts falling on the tree-lined streets I can be with a six and still be like, ‘I love you.’”

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