Everybody loves a ball, not the football kind (though I happen to love that too) but the sort where party people dress up to the nines and put on airs and graces before partying with abandon until the small hours.

Tonight's Red Hot Ball, at the Royal Albert Hall, is the most talked about event of 1998 so far. It offers weary clubbers a welcome opportunity to throw off the shackles of crap weather, nine-to-five jobs and too many predictable nights down the local pub.

Danny Rampling headlines on the wheels of steel with support from Jon Pleased Wimmin', Alex Gold and Seb Fontaine. Offshore, Black Connection and Juliet Roberts will also be performing live tonight.

The line-up is impressive but what's the difference between a rave and a ball? Simply, extravagance and ambition. A ball is about decadence, revelry, romance and, most of all, escapism.

With four events in one week, the Red Hot celebrations cram in enough escapism and excitement to fill a short holiday in Ibiza. Thursday's event at the Emporium started the ball rolling before yesterday's memorable gig at the exclusive Saint Bar in Covent Garden.

Those of you who've survived so far will be joined tonight by thousands of people for an event that promises to make the Last Night of the Proms seem like a senior citizens' bingo night.

Those of you familiar with London's club scene will have probably guessed that jeans and trainers will not be a welcome sight. If the sound of popping champagne corks and the sight of designer-label-clad luvvies drives you to distraction, or if the word "glitteratti" fills you with horror, then steer well clear.

The tunes will be bangin', but next week's memories will of the social vibe. "Everyone at the Ball will have a great time," promoter Tommy Mack assures me.

This series of events are the first offering from the Hierarchy Productions team. The basic idea involves making this event unforgettable.

"The Royal Albert Hall is the creme de la creme of venues, so it's going to be an incredibly prestigious event. I've been involved in previous events here but we haven't done anything for two years. Now we're back.

"They'll be plenty of celebrities, champagne and a cosmopolitan mixture of young and old people, all out to party. From a promotions point of view, the most important thing is to entertain the crowds, which is why we've organised this series of events. Everyone will be going home with a smile on their face."

The size of the event has sent positive whispers across the country. With the help of some of the UK's top PR agencies, The Red Hot Ball will attract revellers from across the UK.

After downing numerous bottles of champagne, if you can still walk at 4am, when festivities at the Royal Albert Hall cease, then the real fun begins. Coaches will take you to Bagley's Studios, where the party continues and Nigel Benn and Miss Barbie feature on the decks.

"This one will be for the hard core who want to party through to the next day," says Tommy Mack. "The atmosphere at Bagley's afterwards will be different than at The Albert Hall because there will already be an established night, Freedom, in full swing before we arrive."

You may well wander home on Sunday with a smile on your face but your wallet will more than likely be empty - escapism doesn't come cheap. Entry tax varies from pounds 38 to pounds 150 (the higher prices offer private boxes, VIP treatment, free booze and a slap-up feed), but you can rest assured that 50 per cent of all profits will go to the Red Hot Aids Charitable Trust.

Founded in 1991, this independent London-based charity distributes funds for HIV/Aids prevention work and promotes awareness around the world.

Non-stop partying ... and all for charity. Surely the perfect excuse!

Telephone Hierachy (0181-994 9948) or the Royal Albert Hall booking office (0171-589 8212) for further details.