Parties: Stars do the Africa shake

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The Independent Online

Katie Holmes has dropped something. As the space is so crowded, and her shoulder-wrapping McQueen dress so tight, Tom Cruise bends down to pick it up. He hands it to her, and the greeting is silent; a slow smile and tightly closed eyes. Up close, the TomKat machine is as smoothly oiled as it appears from afar.

At last Wednesday week's Gucci benefit, hosted at the United Nations headquarters in New York by Madonna in aid of her charity, Raising Malawi, and Unicef, the promise of celebrity proximity had pulled in £1.9m even before the event started. Guests were not disappointed: even pre-dinner they had to push past Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher to get to the bathroom.

After Madonna arrived with daughter Lourdes, Jennifer Lopez took the title of most extravagantly pregnant woman to ever walk a red carpet, while Gwyneth Paltrow looked a comparative stick as she swept in, in a pink mini-dress.

Dinner was served to an assault of speeches for Raising Malawi, but it was at the post-dinner auction that the party took off, Salma Hayek paying £180,000 for an hour's football tuition from David Beckham, and Dita Von Teese £300,000 on behalf of another bidder for a package that included a dance aerobics class with Madge and fellow Anglophile Gwynnie.

With just under £3m raised, it was time for the entertainment, provided by Alicia Keys, Timbaland and Rihanna. Can Tom Cruise dance? Stood behind his table, he bit his lower lip to give the appearance of conviction as he kept a rhythm to the umbrella-ella-ella girl. But uninhibited dancing was not on his agenda. By the time the stage turned into a dancefloor, TomKat had stalked off into the night.

Charlie Porter is associate editor at 'GQ'