Choosing canvases, signs, or wineglasses to brush and decorate, groups of visitors to The Painted Party gather around tables for BYOB painting classes. At the behest of an experienced art instructor, each painter daubs, blends, and Jackson Pollocks their canvases, following a series of easy-to-follow directives. They can take the resulting work of art home at the close of class.
The aestheticians, hair stylists, and nail technicians at G Skin & Beauty Institute never work alone. As students at the beauty school, they tend to clients as part of their training, always under the watchful eye of an expert. Their comprehensive, supervised services range from haircuts, deep-conditioning, and relaxer treatments to microdermabrasion and complexion-brightening facials. They can also revitalize entire physiques with body wraps. Regardless of the treatment at hand, the team strives to incorporate organic and natural products whenever possible, rather than those made with extracts from the Little Shop of Horrors plant.
Mary Mayer's career in Irish dancing started when she took her first lessons in Ireland while staying with her grandmother in the early '70s. She loved it so much that when she returned to Chicago, she—as well as her brother John—began taking lessons at a local Irish-dance school, where they danced with such people as Lord of the Dance creator Michael Flatley. Both Mary and John eventually starting placing at regional and national championships.
In 1980, they founded the Mayer School of Irish Dancing. It began in a basement with only five students—two of who were their younger brother and sister, Paul and Julie Mayer. These two followed in their older siblings' footsteps by placing in championships and even landing roles in Road to Perdition. Paul trained actress Jennifer Jason Leigh and danced with her in the film. Julie also trained many actors and performed alongside Paul Newman and Daniel Craig.
Though John has since retired, Mary continues to teach classes six days a week in Villa Park and Galena. Paul and Julie man two of the school's additional locations, which now span four states. Their students have placed in regional and national championships. Some have even traveled to Ireland to put their skills on display at the All-Ireland Championship and see if any snakes have found their way back yet.
Mike Semerau and the instructors at Chicago's #1 Drum Lessons have a trick up their sleeve. In addition to in-person tutelage, they provide professional pre-recorded take-home videos of proper drumming techniques for students to refer to while practicing. This kind of constant visualization and repetitive watching is what the instructors claim makes their students so successful as they drill new techniques such as double bass, ostinatos, and stick control. During lessons, teachers also cover subjects such as soloing, learning a student’s favorite song, creating original beats and fills, and teaching yourself. Chicago's #1 Drum Lessons has a play-along machine stacked with more than 1,000 songs, all of which have no drum track so that students can provide their own percussion and experience the sensation of playing and keeping time with other instruments.