For the better part of the past two decades, Dante Deiana has poured his energy into his craft—providing unforgettable musical experiences at venues across the country and overseas. Dante possesses a unique ability to connect with his audiences and clients, thanks to his breadth of knowledge and professional work ethic. At a time when digital mixing and composition has become commonplace, he continues to learn, evolve, and excel. He is a seasoned veteran, with a record of excellence that sets him apart. Dante is the true embodiment of a self-made entrepreneur who pushes the envelope and raises the bar.
Dante began his career as a DJ before receiving his high school diploma. At the tender age of 16, Dante, a central Massachusetts native, started slinging mixes to hundreds of Worcester-county based youth. He was lucky enough to DJ not only his St. John’s High School dances but also many schools throughout the Worcester area. Through his friend and DJ partner Mario Conte he was also able to play his first actual nightclub at the age of 17 (albeit hidden behind a curtained off DJ booth). Upon graduating from St. John’s High School, Dante relocated to Chicago to attend Loyola University. The move took an enormous leap of faith, as he didn’t know a soul in the city. He relied on his inherent talent for networking and a strong desire to thrive in his new home. He had the good fortune of meeting Joey Vitale, a gregarious native of the South Side, who introduced Dante to his contacts and ultimately helped him book his first show in Chicago.
The first venue to grant him a chance was the Pumping Company—a place that he still feels indebted to and thinks of fondly today. Desperate to land a tryout, he told them, “You don’t have to pay me,” and offered to spin for free. To Dante’s surprise, he received an outpouring of support from his new friends who lined up early to secure their spots. The night was an enormous success: “I was absolutely atrocious as a DJ, but luckily it didn’t matter…everyone had a blast and it was a great party,” says Dante of the memorable Thursday marking the advent of his career. The Pumping Company capitalized on Dante’s ability to pack the room, and began booking him more steadily.
Dante’s first introduction to DJing was initially through vinyl and CD. CD was the “new” medium and many traditionalists considered its use as cheating. The old school crowd favored the original method and the new school stuck by the belief that CDs could revolutionize the industry. DJs like Dante, who loved music and mixing but couldn’t afford to buy multiples of each record, could download music for free at that time and burn CDs. Dante remembers the proud day where his mother took out a line of credit at Guitar Center to purchase his first dual CD player with a basic mixer. Unbeknownst to both of them, this gesture provided the launchpad for a lengthy and successful career that would require learning many different forms of software, hardware, programs, and equipment.
With Joey’s help, Dante hit the music scene with tenacity—embracing the hustle of a young DJ trying to earn attention and respect. They began throwing house parties and Dante was spinning at semi-formal events, building a name for himself on campus and in Rogers Park. He was burning mixed CDs and demos out of a friend’s basement, distributing them throughout the city. The caliber of talent during this time was enormous and it was difficult to break into the well-established nightlife scene. Dante endured his share of rejections, but remained determined. His dedication and grit, coupled with Joey’s networking prowess, eventually landed him a gig at Enclave, a swanky Downtown club. Renowned Chicago promoter Bob O’Connell helped score Dante an opening spot from 9-11pm in the basement venue that held a maximum of 200 people. The response from his growing fanbase was overwhelming—there were approximately 500 eager party-goers waiting outside. Stunned and intrigued, the General Manager approached him at the end of his set and urged, “You need to practice and get your skills up, but we can work on getting you better.” Dante decided it was time to get serious and pursue DJing and event coordination as a viable business opportunity.
Although he was passionate about DJing, Dante’s heavy involvement in his undergraduate studies didn’t allow for much time to practice or work on mastering technique. As a double major at Loyola by night and a full-time clerk at prestigious law firms Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, and Arnstein and Lehr LLP by day, DJing remained a creative outlet and a way to pay bills and buy groceries. Even when he began gaining some momentum as a DJ, his motivation for capitalizing on the chances presented remained hinged on the long-term goal of attending law school.
At the end of his senior year of college, Dante had improved well enough that he was invited to play at Reserve, one of Chicago’s most exclusive high-end clubs. Reserve had recently signed a contract with the incomparable DJ AM, founder of DeckStar. DJ AM built a roster of rising talent and brought in DJs from all over the country and internationally, including Steve Aoki and DJ Homicide. Dante describes DJ AM as one of the most humble and helpful guys he’s come across in the industry to this day: “Working under and alongside AM and his team was such a pivotal experience for me. It accelerated my learning and fast-tracked me 5 or 6 years ahead. I was in the right place at the right time and it really was the turning point. Once I started focusing and taking DJing more seriously, I started making noticeable strides.”
Dante eventually made the difficult decision to leave his job and the security of a steady paycheck. He formed Outfit Events with Joey Vitale and Bob O’Connell—likeminded emerging leaders in the field—and experienced immediate success. The marketing group conducted product launches for major brands, hosted weekly parties, and planned large-scale events, including one of the city’s most popular New Year’s Eve parties five years in a row.
The Next Episode
The growth of Outfit Events ushered in a wave of opportunities. Dante met Bobby Rutter (future partner of FWD) in 2006. Bobby, originally from Cleveland, was practicing law in Chicago and reached out to Dante. He knew a successful restauranteur named Mike Schwartz who was interested in opening a Chicago-based venue. The Outfit crew seized the opportunity and began looking at real estate. In 2007, they identified a distressed gem with a wealth of potential on Hubbard Street in River North. Excited to get underway, they mapped the business plan, met with investors, procured financial backing, and got their licenses in order. Although their supporters believed in the vision, the first signs of the recession hit and a major investor backed out; the project came to a halt and eventually fell through. Dante recalls, “I was really upset at the time—we had put so much effort into getting it off the ground, but in hindsight, I think it was a blessing in disguise.”
Outfit Events dissolved over time, but Dante maintained contact with Rudder and Schwartz. He forged on, creating Premier Event Marketing in 2010 with friend and mastermind Anthony DiClementi. Dante shifted his energy and focused on honing his own brand. He earned the attention of Barstool Sports, a mega site for sports and entertainment, and struck a deal to help create and headline Barstool Sports “Stoolapalooza”. A northeast college concert series, it found Dante booking talent alongside then Barstool employee Jenna Marbles, advancing the shows, and DJing them. It also introduced him to up and coming artists like Sammy Adams and Mac Miller. Over the next year Stoolapalooza eventually turned into the phenomenon that was the nationwide Barstool Blackout Tour which Dante headlined—a series of more than 160 shows that spanned four years and brought a one-of-a-kind party to over 150,000 attendees.
During this extensive time on the road, Dante met many talented performers, including Sammy Adams. The two clicked instantly and Dante became Sammy’s tour DJ, sharing the stage with him at world-famous festivals like Lollapalooza and Bamboozle. Between Barstool and touring with Sammy, Dante saw all 50 states and rose to a level of acclaim he never could have anticipated. Quiet and composed when you first meet him, it’s hard to imagine Dante relishing these high-intensity events, let alone acting as the maestro orchestrating them. His skills had grown tenfold and his name came with recognition. He was being contacted regularly to work with big-name companies such as the NBA, McDonalds, Playboy, Groupon, Red Bull, and Vita Coco. Dante was also booked by a number of celebrity clients and cites opening for pop phenom Miley Cyrus as a career highlight—spinning for over 18,000 people at Chicago’s United Center in the process.
An avid sports fan, Dante has followed Boston- and Chicago-based teams closely for as long as he can remember. It was nothing short of a dream come true when he met New England Patriots tight end and beloved party boy Rob Gronkowski. Dante describes Rob as “One of the nicest, funniest, most generous people [he’s] ever met.” They quickly became friends and Rob named Dante his personal DJ, presenting him with a jersey on stage at a Barstool Blackout show. Their combined passion for partying took to the high seas on Gronk’s Party Cruise—an exclusive bash not intended for the faint of heart. Dante was ecstatic to see the Patriots crowned Super Bowl Champions in 2015 and 2017, and was thrilled to support Rob on the victory circuit. In between time spent traveling, Dante packed his schedule at home with gigs at some of the hottest clubs in Chicago, maintaining residencies at Underground, Prysm, The Mid, El Hefe, Joy District, to name a few.
Dreams Realized: Current Ventures
As the epic four-year Barstool tour came to a close, Dante received a phone call from Bobby Rutter. They had an opportunity to open a venue in the Flats East Bank area of Cleveland. In the 80s, the Flats was a hip spot where boat owners would pull up, dock, and walk to the bar for afternoon refreshments and entertainment. In the 90s, the strip fell from glory and stayed vacant for a number of years. More recently, a motivated developer with deep Cleveland roots had a vision to revitalize the area, and posed the question about what to do with the existing infrastructure and land to Mike Schwartz. Mike gave Starwood the idea of a Vegas-style day and night club. When Mike and Bobby approached Dante with the concept, he “couldn’t say ‘yes’ fast enough.” Dante and the team signed on and worked tirelessly on the project, breathing life into their vision. Two and a half years later, FWD (Forward), one of the country’s most innovative clubs, opened its doors in the Flats East Bank.
FWD also gave birth to Magnolia, a speakeasy coffee and donut shop located directly across the street. This smaller venture was launched within six months and has quickly grown in popularity. Basketball superstar LeBron James is a fan, polishing off more than 40 donut holes in a single sitting. Magnolia celebrated its one-year anniversary in June 2017.
Never one to back down from a challenge, Dante eagerly agreed to serve as the Sound & Music Engineer for the Chicago Cubs in the spring of 2015. A multi-dimensional insomniac, Dante showed equal dedication to his construction projects and to Cubs athletes and fans. He had amassed an impressive résumé of shows, tours, events and clients by this point, but had never been as nervous as he was to step into the sound booth at Wrigley Field to “DJ” for 42,000 people in his first game. Since that fateful day in April 2015, his music has filled the ears of more than 6.1 million cheering fans. Very few people can say they’ve had a hand in a world series victory and Dante will always remember it as an unparalleled moment in his career. He’s formed incredible friendships with many of the Cubs athletes, including first baseman Anthony Rizzo. One of Dante’s roles of which he’s most proud is the part he’s played in the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation, a role he’s proud to adopt.
Despite staying busy, Dante has maintained relationships with many of the clients and clubs he’s worked with along the way. For over seven years, he’s had a weekly spot on Kiss 103.5 mix show—the #1 rated station in the third largest market in the country. He remains a Music Director at Tavern on Rush, a Music Consultant for Rockit Ranch Productions.
In 2018 he was asked to sign on the Sirius XM and world famous recording artist Pitbull’s Globalization Radio, channel 13, as a regular mixshow personality. He can be heard weekly on XXX at XXX pm.
His current residencies and venues include:
The Grand (Boston, MA)
Prysm (Chicago, IL)
Underground (Chicago, IL)
the Mid (Chicago, IL)
Summit (Austin, TX)
FWD (Cleveland, OH)
Shrine (Mashantucket, CT)
Joy District (Chicago, IL)
When asked how it feels to have “made it,” Dante didn’t skip a beat, saying, “It’s cool to be perceived the way I used to look at some of these other guys, but it’s also pretty awkward and embarrassing. I don’t see myself as accomplished…I still consider myself to be aspiring.” Raised in an Italian family, Dante grew up understanding the importance of giving back and using one’s gifts for good; as such, he has donated countless hours of time and talent to provide entertainment for foundations and organizations that aim to make our world a better place. He’s helped raise millions of dollars for research, treatment, awareness, and expansion of initiatives that resonate with his values. His roster of events for charitable purposes include:
Gronk Nation Youth Foundation
Anthony Rizzo’s Family Foundation- named to the Board
Dance for Paralysis out of Boston
Berkshire Hills Music Academy
Jay Cutler Six Foundation
The Best is Yet to Come
Remaining humble and counting his blessings daily, Dante hopes to continue building his eclectic portfolio. His goals include having several successful businesses in Chicago and in other cities along the East Coast. In addition to FWD and Magnolia, he has other projects in the works. Stay tuned for Bell and Flower, an upscale café serving signature cocktails and American fare with a twist, and Shake It, a hangout offering a refreshing take on burgers and milk shakes.
Dante is also breaking into the tech industry with an application developed with partners he met through his FWD team. Tally, a mobile tab system for bars, removes the hassle of handing over a credit card and ID to the bartender. Users simply open the app from their phone and notify the bartender they’ve opened a tab, and close the tab automatically from their phone when they’re done. The response from barkeepers at over 30 venues in Chicago has been incredibly positive. Tally is expected to continue gaining traction in the coming months.
For a man who exemplifies the “work hard, play hard” mentality, Dante is looking forward to taking time out of work to play—coaching the next generation of Little Leaguers. He is excited to start a family, and hopefully have a few sluggers of his own someday. In the meantime, he continues to add to his impressive collection of autographed sports memorabilia, honing his home cooking skills, polishing his atrocious golf game, and can be spotted at dog parks in Chicago, playing endless games of fetch with his crazy Boston Terrier, Max.