By  on January 6, 2006

LONDON - The Tory party's annual Winter Ball in London is usually a starched, black-tie affair with a Tatler photographer on hand to snap the blue-rinse set as well as the "Hooray Henrys," as Britain's posh party boys are known, with their blonde, pashmina-clad dates.

Next month's bash, though, is expected to be a lot different: First, it's been rebranded The Black & White Ball, and it's no longer black tie. A Cuban salsa group - and later gospel singers and an Asian funky house DJ - will replace the standard, generic cover band, and the party will take place at Old Billingsgate, a brick building in hip East London, rather than at the hulking Grosvenor House hotel in staid Mayfair.

The ball is already sold out - at $380 per ticket - and the guest list includes Jemima Khan and her brothers, Ben and Zac Goldsmith; designers Anya Hindmarch, Amanda Wakeley and Linda Bennett; actress Joan Collins, and a clutch of City bankers and Internet moguls who, even 12 months ago, never would have dreamed of celebrating the Tories, Britain's Conservative Party.

"For the first time ever, I've taken a table," says interior designer Nicky Haslam, who voted for Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair. "A lot of people are feeling the change inside the Tory party. The leaders are young, in touch with the current vibes, and no longer the hammering, nasty old Tories of the past."

A long-awaited, seismic change is happening inside the party, thanks to a group of thirtysomethings who've been fighting to update the Tories' stuffy, elitist image, and craft more inclusive, broad-based policies. They're known as the Cameroons, after their undisputed new hero, David Cameron, was elected party leader early in December.

A graduate of Eton, where generations of royal boys have been educated, and Oxford, where he earned top honors, Cameron, 39, is famous for his charm, his guts, and - most importantly in Britain - the common touch. He's even got a fashion angle - his wife, Samantha, is creative director of the chic British stationery brand Smythson. The couple has two children, with a third child on the way.

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