Strike while the irony's hot

It's a film, it's a soundtrack and now it's a club. Pulp mania has finally reached the dancefloor.
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The Independent Culture
gun-toting uma thurman's appearance on London's cinema billboards last year was just the start of the never-ending Pulp Fiction craze. The film has already grossed £11.4 million in this country, helping to sell 350,000 soundtrack records and 82,000 screenplays. John Travolta is suddenly cool again and was nominated for an Oscar. The careers of obscure surf guitarist Dick Dale, Chuck Berry and Dusty Springfield have been rescued overnight. Even the BBC Five Nations rugby theme got the Tarantino treatment. All this, and now a club called Pulp Fashion....

In a packed live music venue three miles down the Harrow Road, Katrina and the Waves play their final encore while Pulp Fashion hosts Polly and Liz, who claim to own "the biggest collection of rubbish music", get ready to inflict their taste on the unsuspecting rock fans and post-pub boozers. Both cite the film's eclectic use of trashy music as the inspiration to the club. "There's nothing like a really horrible record on the right occasion", says Polly, fondly remembering the occasion when she played a Nolans record for 2,000 rock fans at The Grand in Clapham. Liz, a former warm-up DJ for Abba clones Bjrn Again, agrees: "It's OK to play anything now, as long as there's some kind of irony to it."

Out on the dancefloor a group of Debbie Harry wannabes are stretching out their arms and mouthing the words to "Atomic", while John Noakes skydives on a huge video back projection. "Ooooh!" they cry approvingly as Blondie fades and the seductive bass intro of "Rescue Me" keeps the momentum going. Pele scores a spectacular goal in the 1970 World Cup as 1960s soul gives way to The Beastie Boys. How about that for a postmodern experience?

Trash this bad is standard practice at any student disco or mobile roadshow, so where are our Buddy Holly waiter, 1950s Edsel convertible and the stylish Mia and Vincent tonight? We don't even get a chance to do the mash potato or meet an Ed Sullivan lookalike. Harlesden locals Eddie and Louise choose to sit it out. "I don't like this sort of music," says Eddie, cradling a pint. His girlfriend agrees, "I'm not in the mood." The search for Tarantino- style punters appears fruitless until at last a suit straight out of Reservoir Dogs is spotted. On closer inspection it transpires that the suit has been worn not for the club, but for an afternoon court appearance "as a witness", the wearer insists.

True Tarantino aficionados are found at the weekly showings of Reservoir Dogs at the Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square, where two years after its original release it is still selling out. Like The Rocky Horror Picture Show in the 1970s, Reservoir Dogs is the film to dress up for and re-enact. In the aisles, guns are allowed, as long as they are not loaded.

The cult status of Tarantino's films gives them a shelf-life far exceeding more mainstream offerings and a market way beyond the cinema. The paperback screenplays of both films have been the first ever to enter a bestsellers' list, causing Faber & Faber chairman, Matthew Evans, to admit that "Tarantino has created a new market for screenplays. Though the book has been heavily publicised by the film, the words are good and the script reads very well."

Tarantino's use of music has also changed current trends in the once highly specialised soundtrack market. In the land of pulp, styles as diverse as rockabilly, surf, soul, funk and country rock are allowed to share the same tracklist. Roy Carr, who compiled a tribute to Tarantino's music for Vox magazine, explains: "When he puts together a soundtrack, he doesn't just look at the charts but goes through his own record collection. Like his choice of favourite films, he has a refreshing openness with music." Even MCA records say that "Pulp Fiction is a very odd compilation, but fits the film perfectly".

Back at The Mean Fiddler the long-forgotten 1970s classic "Love is in the Air" sends the dancefloor into total confusion. "What a terrible record," says Eddie to his girlfriend, before dragging her away from the bar for a dance. That's the thing about the pulp practitioners - they are getting away with murder.

Pulp Fashion at The Mean Fiddler, NW10 (081-961 5490) Fri 11pm-3am.

`Pulp Fiction' the video is released on 24 April

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