Parties: The fine art of schmoozing

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The Independent Online

Last Monday's Turner Prize party at Tate Liverpool really got into its swing when Grayson Perry sashayed into the gallery's central room in all his cross-dressing glory. Sipping a Raspberry Sour and wearing a black Dior-style frock and body glitter, the artist momentarily eclipsed the muscular presence of Dennis Hopper, who had been regaling swooning ladies with stories of the city's artistic life.

Meanwhile, the motley crew of guests, from Liverpool locals such as the TV producer Phil Redmond to Parliamentarians Margaret Hodge and Ed Vesey, continued to network shamelessly while nibbling on lobster pot salads, pumpkin risotto and a pudding buffet, buoyed by a constant flow of Prosecco.

Once the winner of this year's prize had been announced as Mark Wallinger (dressed in the artist's uniform of black suit and trainers) and the niblets were all but consumed, the crowd moved on to the intimate Turner Prize Nightcap Party in the swanky Cyan Room of the city's Print Hotel, to really let their hair down.

While Wallinger was air-kissed by the great and the good of the art world, Brian Haw, the Parliament Square protestor who inspired his winning work, lingered on the fringes, rubbing shoulders with Sir Nicolas Serota, who emanated high levels of intensity as he glided across the floor.

Petite glasses of creamy chocolate vodka drinks and luminous-green melon cocktails soon loosened up the crowd, and as the DJs mixed feverishly into the early hours, Turner Prize winners and losers alike flooded the dance floor, including the ultra-hirsute Mike Nelson, who was drowning his sorrows over not winning by foot-tapping to the strains of Brazilian acid-jazz. A few manic beats in and his joyous expression said it all: Turner Prize winners will come and go, but the beat will go on.