The McGrath Highway underpass comes alive for Project MUM.

By Julia Faircough

Strobe
lights play upon the throngs of people who wave their hands as they
dance to hip hop, 70s music and techno. The DJ spins tunes, the disco
ball gleams, and everyone is happy to bump and grind and hop up and
down into the night.

Where is this scene occurring? Landsdowne
Street? Ned Devine's? No way, you can't be talking about the McGrath
Highway underpass?

Yes, way. Come this Saturday night from 9
p.m. to 1 a.m., the unsightly overpass that looms over Washington
Street as you head out of Union Square will be transformed into a
rocking, space age-themed dance party for the fourth annual Project MUM
(which stands for Meet Under McGrath). Visit
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAZoYEg0IR0&feature=channel to watch
last year's MUM on YouTube.

"On one level it's a lot of fun. On
another, it brings a ton of people to Union Square. And on a deeper
level, it brings a lot of attention to the intersection of McGrath
Highway, which has typically been mainly known as the area with lots of
issues with safety," said Susan Berstler, the director of
ArtsSomerville, which is putting on this event.

Last year, a
70-year-old woman driving past was struck by the lights and music and
did a u-turn to park and come party, Berstler said. But by now, most
locals will be expecting the strobe lights to spark up the night.

"People know this event now and look forward to it," Berstler added. "It's a community-builder, as it's open to everyone."

Taking
last year's space theme to the next level, this time there will be a
space costume contest where the winner gets a year supply of Tang (the
drink of astronauts). People are encouraged-not obligated-to wear a
costume.

"It works well with the idea of public space and the whole fantasy idea," Berstler said.

There
will also be "space girls" and aliens dancers (in space attire) who
will motivate and entertain. Carey Foster, who teaches dance at the
Harvard/Radcliffe Modern Dance Company and Cambridge School of Weston,
got a bunch of her friends together to perform the fun dance sets to
liven things up.

"We talked last year during the night of the
event how great it would be to get everyone in costume," Foster said.
"If we have fun, then the audience has fun."

Foster's friend and
costume designer, Penney Pinette, worked together to create the
costumes. Foster is also friends with Todd Sargent, who is in charge of
the lighting. Her husband, Pace, is one of the DJs. "I love how I know
everyone and we are doing this cool thing together. It makes it more
fun," she said. "And I certainly don't see anything like this in other
areas."

Pace has seen the evolution of MUM over the past several
years, an event that now draws literally hundreds of people. It's
amazing how Sargent is able to reconfigure the drab underpass into a
magical night club, which one literally would never see otherwise, he
said.

There will also be a master of ceremonies ("Dr.
Dooriddle") this year to host the costume show and generally interact
with people and move things along.

"There are so many talented people volunteering their time for this project," Berstler said. "It has really found its groove."

A suggested $10 donation will fund this event and more for the future.

 

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