We all rely on TNC and Pub to get our Wednesday and Thursday night grind on: they churn out the radio-ready pop and hip hop most of us expect from college parties. But as Janak Tull PZ ’13 observed, “Lots of events at the Claremont Colleges are big on playing Top 40, while a lot of kids at the 5Cs are interested in more electronic music.”
Hence the birth of the Mudd Underground Movement. Leo Altmann HMC ‘11, Aaron Campbell (“DJ Swine Flu”) CMC ’11, and Yoichi Sagawa (“DJ Yoichman”) HMC ‘11 conceived of the Mudd Underground Movement as a way to provide an alternative to the Top 40-ridden playlists on repeat at most 5C parties. According to Altmann, “The original idea for MUM was to set up a regular party on Fridays at Mudd, since most weeks there is nothing really planned on that day. The focus was on introducing people to non-mainstream music (hence the ‘underground’), mainly various forms of dance music that have been gaining popularity in recent years both on the 5Cs and in the broader LA scene.”
Tull played the role of “hype man” for MUM, getting the word out for events. His advertising method of choice: “I danced my ass off at every event and got my friends interested by word of mouth,” said Tull. “My secret—you always look cooler dancing by yourself and you have more space to get down!”
The party quickly took on a life of its own and expanded to the other campuses, Altman explained. A main reason for this expansion was that, unlike other colleges, Harvey Mudd does not provide alcohol funding.
“We noticed pretty quickly that our alcohol-provided parties were much more successful than the BYOB ones—hence the shift away from Mudd as a venue,” he said.
MUM’s organizers’ passion for music undoubtedly contributes to its success.
“We definitely have a core group of people who come to most every show, and I think a lot of what drives that is the music and the vibe,” Altmann said. “We try hard to make an immersive atmosphere: a big, clear sound system with subwoofers, as many lights and lasers as we can get our hands on, a projector whenever we can.”
Altmann has been DJing for four years, and is also running Pomona’s Tuesday night Table Manners this year.
“I definitely feel that there’s something fundamental about music as a means of communication,” he said, “and I know many people—myself included—have had very powerful experiences with this kind of music. So yeah, I do it because I enjoy it, and other people seem to be enjoying it too!”
Even though he has only been DJing since learning from his brother over winter break, Tull is already an enthusiastic performer.
“I get really involved with the crowd and have a lot of fun…. We like to get down and boogie and play deep bass and have a good time.”
According to Altmann, the intensity of the crowd also sets MUM apart from other 5C parties.
“Things tend to get a bit crazy sometimes,” he said. “We often have to have extra security keeping people off the speakers.”
As of press time, the next event is tentatively scheduled for tonight at Pitzer’s Gold Student Center. Look for more information on the Mudd Underground Movement Facebook page: the group sends a weekly message to members about all dance music-related events happening on the 5Cs. “People should come and dance like they don’t care,” said Tull.