Reading

Aaron Dante: Flow State, Tux Edition

Previous Story
Article Image

Preserving Endangered Species at the Maryland Zoo

Next Story
Article Image

Baltimore News: Single Carrot Theatre Closing, Ne [...]

Aaron Dante, creator and host of the NoPixAfterDark Podcast, is starting out the new year fresh and ready for business. Dressed to the nines with a smart haircut and tux, he is ready to partner up and get work done. “The tux is how we’re kicking it off this year,” he says. “New Year’s, I’m going to look suave and smooth. Let’s bring it back to the roaring 20’s and get dressed up. I like sweats and hoodies, but let’s look good again. Let’s look fashionable. That’s my thing in 2023.”

Dante started the podcast in 2019 and it is currently in the 4th season with 210 episodes. He believes in the empowerment that comes with taking control of your own narrative and the stories he features all share the unifying themes of positivity and persistence.

“Everybody says keep on going,” says Dante. “A lot of people have stories where they talk about their trials and tribulations, but they keep on going. You don’t give up on your dream, don’t give up on what you may not think is for you. You want to do it? Achieve the goal.”

This tenacity is exemplified by the host himself. “Four years ago, I never thought I would be in this place doing what I am doing now,” he shares. “Winning back-to-back for three years Best of Baltimore Podcast voted by the listeners and readers of Baltimore Magazine, that’s amazing. I never thought that in my wildest dreams.” Originally, the podcast was a result of conversations with his college friends, sharing stories of adversity. “I wanted my son to learn about that, about how to keep pushing and never giving up,” says Dante.

A few highlights: NoPixAfterDark was the first podcast to record live during AFRAM 2022. It recently participated in the Maryland Association of Counties (MACO) podcast alley and partnered with several local and national organizations including: the U.S. Navy for Maryland Fleet Week 2022, Guinness Open Gate Brewery, Union Craft Brewing, Arena Stage Washington DC, Visit Baltimore, United Way Central Maryland, and Vice TV. NoPixAfterDark has received Reader’s Choice Awards for the Baltimore Sun and Baltimore Magazine over the past few years and participated in Epsilon Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. as they celebrated Black Podcasters for Black History Month.

 

Although the podcast has focused on Baltimore, Dante is currently sharing stories from Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York, and Los Angeles. “Expanding is the only way you can grow as a person. You got to grow and it’s a beautiful thing,” he says. “And now people in these cities want me to come tell their stories, to learn more about what artists are doing there and continue that message of positivity.”

After rattling off a list of upcoming events that he will be attending, Aaron circles back to his mission: “Helping communities is what it’s about. Getting into rooms and saying, ‘Hey what are you guys doing, how can I highlight what’s going on?’ These are all Baltimore things.”

Guests of NoPixAfterDark have included City Council President, now Mayor of Baltimore City Brandon Scott; Washington Commanders Senior Vice President Julie Donaldson; CEO & President of La Fête Du Rosè Donaè Burston; CEO OF Lobos 1707 Tequila Dia Simms; Maryland Governor Elect Wes Moore;WEAA radio host and renowned DEI expert Dr. Karsonya Whitehead,, Vice President of Sales, Pandora North America Detria Courtalis; CIAA Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams; and Visit Baltimore CEO & President Al Hutchinson.

Dante is intentional about his programming and plans his episodes around themes and calendar events, including Black History Month and Women’s History Month. For the upcoming year, he says he has a lot to look forward to. He’s starting out the new year with the “tux episode” and will be broadcasting from the Black and White Ball at the Enoch Pratt Library. He will attend the Maryland Inaugural Ball wearing that tuxedo again but will most likely be trading it for sweats to cover the CIAA basketball tournament with an exclusive podcast.

Brimming with energy and positivity, Dante says, “There’s so much creativity in Baltimore and it is extremely indie. It’s a scene unlike any other. Baltimore is a beautiful place. People are very passionate about what they are doing here. And I am here to tell them to keep on doing it.”

The following interview was edited for clarity.

 

What common themes have emerged in your work/podcast?

Being positive and looking for a great outcome has been the theme from day 1 when I started the show in 2019. Keeping a positive theme and hearing from the voices of the unheard. The show helps you peek behind the curtain with people you’ve seen or admire from afar.

What is your mission?

With the introduction of social media into our society, sometimes it feels like conversation is lost. NoPixAfterDark seeks out to build a community of human experience, storytelling, and conversation. This could take the form of simply telling a memorable tale, sharing a passion or project, or explaining an experience that changed a life… seeking the voices of the unheard and sharing a positive light on Baltimore, Maryland counties, and Washington DC.

What would you like your listeners to learn about Baltimore?

I would like listeners to learn that Baltimore is a city with amazing people. We have so many amazing restaurants, artists, creatives, tech, and small neighborhoods that have their own identity. When you come visit, please take time to visit art galleries, music venues, and the wonderful neighborhoods that have their own personality. 

 

How have you overcome adversity and overcome challenges? 

Adversity happens every day. As a creative/media personality I have had a great support system around me. That support system helps me bounce ideas back and forth. Recently I thought I was attending a conference and at the last second the company changed its mind.

Yes, are you disappointed but now that has pushed me to make sure if that opportunity comes up again,  leave no doubt in any company’s mind that we need to bring NoPixAfterDark along. Or even when you have a deal on the table for a great partnership and It falls through you just understand it’s not personal–it’s business.

What advice would you give your younger self? 

Don’t worry about the outside noise. Focus on what got you here. Always Listen!  

What is your take on the creative scene in Baltimore?

Baltimore has an amazing creative scene. I remember when Artscape was around…learning about so many creatives that this city has. Since doing this podcast I have learned more about […] art shows, comedy scenes, music, and food. We have some very talented people here and I have been fortunate to interview some of them. 

 

What are your plans for 2023? How would you like to grow?

Can’t tell you all the secrets but what I can say is 2023 is looking great! I am fortunate to be featured at BmoreArt this year,  the premiere art magazine on the East Coast.  NoPixAfterDark will be at the CIAA tournament doing a podcast for the Tech Summit Feb 24. I am curating a podcast festival and a podcast alley for a conference… and doing more live shows around the state of Maryland. You might see me in Annapolis or Baltimore County.  More to come I can’t speak about it yet. I am always looking for partnerships, so please do not hesitate to reach out. 

How do you stay healthy and get into a flow state?

My wellness plan is to get on my Peloton at least three times a week. I also am looking for the right yoga studio to work with. I typically get to Indu Wellness once a month to get my mind sharp. 

What’s the craziest story someone has shared with you on the podcast?

The craziest story I have heard was on Episode 11, “All I wanted was coffee.” Episode 25, “Dude, where is my car?” Go listen now! About Dating in your 50’s. 

Where’s your go-to place in Baltimore to relax, kick back, and chill?

My studio, peace and quiet. I turn on some jazz… Coltrane helps me to center myself.

How can our readers support and follow you and NoPixAfterDark?

I hope they will give the podcast a chance and take time to listen. You can find NoPixAfterDark online (Subscribe YouTube, Spotify, Apple). We are all about celebrating the people locally. Feel free to pitch ideas in the comments.

 

Special thanks to stylist Mark Farrell and barber Tavon Jones.

 

Special thanks to stylist Mark Farrell and barber Tavon Jones.

Related Stories
The Four Award-Winning Businesses Redrawing Baltimore's Food and Nightlife Map

From a handshake deal over a dive bar with a loanshark to the James Beard Awards and Bon Appétit's "Best of Lists"—it's been a long road down a few overlooked blocks.

2024 Rubys grants provide $270,000 to 16 new projects across 4 disciplines, plus an annual alumni grant and 2 microgrants

The Rubys support artists in Baltimore City and Baltimore County working in performing, media, visual, and literary arts.

An Introduction to Issue 17: Transformation

We present the region’s courageous leaders, creative explorers, and ground-breaking thinkers who are envisioning a better future and joining with others to make these collective dreams a reality.

A Conversation with the Author on Her Debut Novel, They Dream in Gold, and an Upcoming Collaboration with Her Mother, Diana Wharton Sennaar, at the BMA

As a Baltimore native and graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Sennaar has developed a voice that is as distinct as it is clever.