Ads: The double life of Darren from Braintree

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The Independent Culture
Music commercials usually aren't worth seeing. They're either crass scissors-and-paste jobs, for compilations, or they're simply cut from the promo-video. But there's evidently been some thought put into the Pete Tong's Essential Selection commercial.

It draws directly on that great 40-year tradition of the conformist- seeming, wage-slave kid who's got a secret clubland life. It's the idea that animates Tom Wolfe's Sixties London essay The Noonday Underground, and it's the theme of Nik Cohn's original Saturday Night Fever story. And, of course, it's the idea behind The Face - the fabulous nobody - known only to a circle of other clubland kids.

This fabulous nobody emerges from a London commuter train crowd, looking like a cross between a baby Kray and a Clockwork Orange character. He's wearing a bowler hat, at something of an angle, and a blue coat with a velvet collar, with a handkerchief in the pocket. So he's a throwback working-class dandy, echoing the theme of the lads who dressed nice to do the nasty work.

Fade through modish colour washes - a little bit lime, a little bit mulberry - and you get the lad on the Friday night dance floor. He's in a short-sleeved shirt, his hair crop-ped, lost in music, dancing up a storm to Pete Tong's serviceable selection. And on it goes on, through Saturday night. It has to be said he's got a gold tooth and a gold chain round his neck. This is not an art school understudy; this is a Darren most right-thinking folk would avoid in Braintree on a Saturday night. And much he cares, pumping away.

As it churns on, there's a mass of code. The tribal names of the contributors, the little star symbols you get on Wallpaper magazine, all the little cues for the chosen ones. And essential information - it's a limited edition format "including bonus CD mixed by Graham Payne". There's a nice flavour of the international clubland insider conspiracy in the names - Armand Van Helden, System F, DJ Saker and Friends.

At the end, the creature confides to camera: "The weekend's gotta stop somewhere." And he winks. Against a background of alienating Sixties office blocks he's let us in on the conspiracy and makes honorary clubmen of us all. It's a London classic.