WHEN Dannii Minogue asks if she can put two extras on the guest list, and there are people queuing around the corner aching to be let in, then it is no ordinary office party. There were no neon striplights, no plastic beakers of warm weak punch, no frottage in the stationery cupboard and no Kylie tracks on the turntables at the Christmas party of Planet 24, the production company responsible for Channel 4's The Word and The Big Breakfast.

To celebrate the festive season, Planet 24 was holding a rave. As hip and cool as its programmes, it was confident enough to hold it on a Saturday night at the Tram Shed in London's East End, a venue large enough to look embarrassingly empty if the guests had decided to go elsewhere. After a complex vetting business at the door, a tricky ticket-and-list combination, there was another queue for coats. Two fairies were doing the collecting. 'We're actually supposed to be angels,' said one man, indignantly adjusting his small white wings. 'We thought that halos would make us look like saints.'

As the guests handed over their valuables, one man stripped off to a pair of small, tight briefs. 'Hey man, have you been inside yet? D'you think this is a bit much?' he asked, tugging his jeans over his trainers. Reassured that he was not too much of an exhibitionist, he bounced off into the crowd.

Inside, the party was on two floors. Upstairs was the entertainments stage, with funky acts performing all night and a sofa corridor where fun- coloured suits wandered around, quaffing booze, trailing a girlfriend along like some irritating but necessary appendage.

There was no embarrassing sexual tension at this party. There was to be no groping among the coats. You wondered if there had ever been eye contact at the coffee machine or flirtatious lunches or gauche moments in the back of a taxi. No one was about to compromise himself by snogging with the receptionist; they had guarded against such follies by bringing their partners along to guarantee good behaviour.

Downstairs, past the queue for the loos, was the dance floor, where the leather trousers and Lycra tops danced to tunes from New York. At the far end was the bar, serviced by men sporting little red horns on their foreheads or bronze Viking helmets.

The drinks were priced in 'Spanks', the currency of the Pussy Posse, a group of women who organise parties around London. The pink notes from the 'Bank of Spank', depicting an angel and a devil, with the mottos 'I promise to bare my bottom' and 'Queen for a knight', could be exchanged for legal tender at various points around the party. At two Spanks a beer, Planet Pussy was doing wonders for its GDP.

Back above ground, the Cleavage Sisters were doing their thing. Dressed in green sequined bras that pushed their assets to the fore and baby-doll Christmas tree outfits, they bopped in their red luminous platforms from one end of the stage to the other, changing the records every so often.

Pouting and kicking their legs in the air, they clapped, urging the crowd to join in. However, most were too cool to clap, and too busy pretending not to notice when Planet 24 presenters were standing next to them or walking past.

Next came the king of kitsch, Link and Bikini. A slim blond Canadian, he wiggled his bottom and swirled his way across the stage followed by his entourage of women in black catsuits, long plaited wigs and wide Fifties glasses. A touch of slapstick, simulated sex and a hit single, 'K-i-s-s-i-n-g', and it was all over.

Back downstairs the party was still in full swing. The fun suits had ventured down and were dancing with their girlfriends. As the evening wore on and the tequilas went down, the snogging, both hetero- and homosexual, became more prolific. A couple of drag queens who had lost their way to Kinky Gerlinky were a symphony of sequins and silver wigs when they took to the floor.

And yet, in the shadow of all this naughtiness and festive jollities, the networking went on. Producers, executives and commissioning editors held court to bevies of bright young things with smashing programme ideas who giggled at the jokes and flicked their hair at appropriate moments, hoping their phone calls would be accepted on Monday morning.

At 3.30am, as advertised, the lights came on to reveal rivers of misplaced eyeliner, the balloons were popped, and it was time for everyone to go home. A whole line of platform shoes waited around for taxis. Some were on their way home, others were moving on to other venues, preparing to dance until dawn. But one thing was certain: there were no couples covered in streamers, with Christmas-bauble earrings, falling over as they tried to catch the last Tube.

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