Luke Blackall: From the Royal Academy to Glamour, it's party jam time

Man About Town

It's the season of the party jam, when every brand, shop and venue decides to throw their event while the weather is warm, but before everyone disappears on holiday. Diaries become saturated, forcing you to choose between events, all the while worrying that you'll offend someone.

The preview party for the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition, however, stands out from the crowd, and it is a highlight in my personal calendar. Those who are not celebrities or press have to buy tickets that are more expensive than a number of the works on show.

For those not familiar, this is the 244th time this grand art institution has invited submissions from artists for a summer show. Household names and amateurs all get a chance to enter, and the best 1,200 or so pieces are exhibited.

To accommodate all these works, the gallery crams each wall with dozens of works, jostling together as though they were part of a jigsaw. The effect is dramatic and means you each time you return to a room you see something completely different.

It also means that "big name" artists such as Tracey Emin or Grayson Perry sometimes find themselves hanging next to weekend daubers. Each work is merely numbered, so you can only tell who it is by if you look at the catalogue. While it is a brave move for the famous, it is a boon for the lesser-known, although it can simply end up demonstrating exactly why the very expensive are just that.

For artists without high profiles, the exhibition can propel them to the attention of those who matter – art world grandees and well-heeled Mayfair types, who have a hunger for art and a surfeit of cash.

The other great leveller this week was the Glamour Magazine Women of the Year awards. This has only been going nine years, but already it appears to have become quite a draw for actresses, pop stars and film stars from across the globe.

Each year the famous men in the room, a number of them film stars and musicians, are relegated to roles as either hosts or presenters. And however big a name they are, they all seem delighted by it, often keen to get their photo taken with the female winners.

While the spectre of inequality still hangs over many areas of society, in the world of London parties, women have long reigned over us chaps.

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