I’ve had the pleasure of deejaying with Dante the Don a few times, and every time I’ve had a blast. Dante has been deejaying for almost 16 years. He is the DJ for The Barstool Blackout Tour, has a mix show on 103.5 Kiss FM Chicago, helps program music for the Chicago Bulls, runs a marketing and promotional company as well as a music programming company and has a production team with his partner Bobby Lite that’s featured on Crooklyn Clan. He is also part of a dope DJ group, The Music Trust. So I sat down with Dante after our last gig together and asked him some of my favorite questions.
Altice: When did you start deejaying?
Dante: My freshman year of high school. Started off as a way to get to hear music my friends and I actually wanted played at our school dances and house parties. In college it was a way to make easy beer money and pay my rent. Now it’s taken me across the globe and opened doors for me I never could have imagined. I went from school dances to opening clubs, to headlining clubs, to deejaying on tour for Sammy Adams, to now headlining sold-out shows for the greatest traveling party in the country, The Blackout Tour.
Even better, I have also made lifelong friends through deejaying and met some of the greatest and most talented people on the planet because of it.
Altice: What are some of the hottest clubs you've deejayed?
Dante: This is always tough because every time I answer I always leave something out and remember it later. I’ve done megaclubs in Cancun for spring break, concert halls, theatres, even arenas now because of the Blackout Tour. It’s been a wild past few years. I would have to say, though, it’s pretty hard to beat the Chicago clubs back in their heyday. Reserve and RiNo were pretty sick. They really set the bar high for nightlife in Chicago back in ’04 and ’05; I haven’t seen anything come close until recently with the MID. Shrine at MGM Foxwoods is also a huge favorite of mine. Such great energy and such great crowds.
Altice: What type of equipment do you use?
Dante: I use Technics; I especially love the 1210M5Gs because of the feel on them and the ability to go super wide with the pitch control. I run Serato and I really like Rane mixers, but more and more clubs are phasing them out and moving towards the Pioneers now.
Altice: How do you feel about the digital age of music? Has it hurt the world of deejaying more than helped it?
Dante: Yes and no. This question is a slippery slope, because as much as I would love to knock DJs that abuse the technological advances of today and cut corners, I have to admit that I benefited enormously from what was available to me back in the day.
Back in college, even when I started deejaying multiple times a week, I was dead broke. I could never afford to go to the record shop and spend the little money I had on wax or CDs. So I started focusing on playing CDs and would just buy stacks of blank CDs; download music morning, noon and night and burn CDs like crazy. Now the shitty thing was the really hot stuff back then was still virtually impossible to get on anything besides vinyl. I can remember stalking Gramaphone Records here in Chicago for an entire year over this one record. It was a Buko Breaks record that was loaded with the best party breaks ever at the time. I begged the guys at Gramaphone to rip the vinyl to CD for me on a monthly basis, but they either never had it in stock or couldn’t get their hands on the equipment they needed or were just blowing my punk ass off.
Altice: Where are your current residencies?
Dante: I used to have some of the best spots on the best nights locked down here in Chicago, but I travel a ton now because of the Blackout Tour, so that’s changed. My weeklies have switched to monthly or biweeklies now if I am lucky. Right now in Chicago I play at The Underground, the MID, theWit ROOF, Cuvee, Enclave, Crescendo.
Altice: Who are some of the DJs you look up to?
Dante: The guys that I learned from and helped me to get better and better and still help me out to this day. The late and great DJ AM is at the top of the list. (I got to open for him all but one time he played in Chicago. The stuff I learned just from watching and talking to him was invaluable. He was and will always be the person I respect the most for not just his talent but also his business savvy. Guy was an all-around beast.) But I can’t forget Kevin Scott, DJ Scene, DJ Fashen, DJ Homicide, DJ Riz, DJ Klutch, DJ Spider, DJ Sizzahandz, DJ Chachi; the list goes on and on. I have been privileged to work alongside the best of the best.
Altice: You have deejayed a Playboy party before; what makes those parties stand out from the rest?
Dante: The girls, obviously. It’s going to sound like a plug, but every time I have deejayed a Playmate or Playboy event it’s been nuts. I have done a couple Playboy Golf events, two Playboy New Year’s Eve parties and countless Playmate club appearance gigs. No matter who is there from Playboy they always kill it.
They’re always super chill and really nice to everybody. I’ve done parties with Holly Madison, Sara Jean Underwood, Crystal McCahill, Hope Dworaczyk, Jennifer Walcott and a ton of others, but Summer Altice is definitely the most fun, nicest and a sick DJ. Brooke Richards is a close second.
Altice: What is this whole Blackout Tour about?
Dante: Basically this website that’s based out of Boston, Barstool Sports, and I teamed up to throw the wildest parties in the country. The owner Dave Portnoy called me one day last year and pitched this idea to me. It was on a much smaller scale than what it has turned into, but I jumped at the chance. Between his web empire, his influence and clout and my deejaying, I figured this would definitely blow up. It started out kind of rough — we did frat houses, basement club venues, small stuff like that. But once word started getting out, our videos started making the rounds and my Blackout mixtapes started getting spread around, everything just exploded. We haven’t looked back since, and we have an even crazier tour planned for this year. It kicks off this month and I can’t wait.
Catch Dante at the links below…you will be seeing a lot more of him, I can promise you that!
About the Author
Playmate Summer Altice first graced Playboy magazine pages in 2000. Since then there has been no stopping the multi-talented Altice: actress, model, business owner and for over six years, popular DJ. Much in demand for her Dj skills, Altice currently travels the world playing shows. To book her for your next event please visit summeraltice.com. Make sure to follow her on Twitter @SummerAltice.