Local Hero: Dennis Wise

Dennis Wise copy6 things that make Dennis Wise of Chicago awesome.

1. Dennis is the father figure of the Chicago contra scene. He makes sure all the new-comers (and returning ones) have a way to get home and he spends the first half making sure the newbies are taken care of. If you ask Dennis to dance in the first half of the evening, his answer is usually something like "oh no, we have to make sure all the new dancers have partners! Come, let's find new dancers."

2. He bakes the most wonderful and elaborate cakes for dancers' birthdays each month. There have been castles, rainbow cakes and Christmas cakes. Once, I brought my friend Nathan to contra for the first time and Dennis found out his birthday was the next week, so he told him if Nathan came back, he'd bring a cake!

3. After almost every dance, Dennis writes a lovely facebook post highlighting all the wonderful aspects of the previous evening's dance: how welcoming the Chicago community is to new dancers, how nice it is to dance with returning or out of town dancers, how wonderful that mad robin dance was, or how beautiful the last waltz was.

4. Dennis wears the craziest outfits! On Easter, he danced the whole 3-hour dance in an Easter bunny suit.

5. He is spontaneous! He asked a group of us on a Monday dance if we wanted to drive to Indie on Tuesday to hear the Free Raisins. We did!

6. Dennis is the best company on a dance weekend road trip. We can talk for hours about our favorite dancers bands and callers, how to make our local dance communities better, what our favorite figures are, and the meaning of life. 

    - Submitted by Alexandra Deis-Lauby