Aragon Ballroom (Chicago)
|Former names||Aragon Ballroom|
|Address||1106 W. Lawrence Ave.|
Construction was completed in 1926. The Aragon was designed in the Moorish architectural style, with the interior resembling a Spanish village. Named for an autonomous community of Spain, the Aragon was an immediate success and remained a popular Chicago attraction throughout the 1940s. The Aragon's proximity to the Chicago 'L' (elevated railway) train provided patrons with easy access, and often crowds in excess of 18,000 would attend during each six-day business week. Each night, powerhouse radio station WGN broadcast an hour-long program from the hall to audiences throughout the Midwestern United States and Canada.
A fire at an adjacent cocktail lounge in 1958 forced the Aragon to close for several months. After the reopening, crowds declined significantly, to the point that regular dancing ended in 1964. A succession of new owners used the Aragon as a roller skating rink, a boxing venue, and a discothèque, (the Cheetah, a spin-off of the New York disco) among other uses. There were also occasional efforts to revive it as a traditional ballroom.
The Aragon hosted nearly all of the top names of the big band era. During the 1970s, the Aragon was home to so-called "monster rock" shows; which were marathons of rock and roll acts often lasting six hours or more. The shows gained a reputation for attracting a tough crowd, leading to the nickname, "the Aragon Brawlroom."
In 1973, Latin promoters Willy Miranda and Jose Palomar, who had promoted Hispanic dances and concerts in Chicago for years, became owners of the Aragon. They soon teamed up with rock promoters Arny Granat and Jerry Mickelson, who used the hall for their rock concerts.
In the late 1990s, the Aragon was bought by Luis Rossi (previous owner of La Raza Newspaper), Ivan Fernandez, and Mercedes Fernandez. In September 2014, Mercedes Fernandez sold all of her interests in the Aragon.
Today, under the name Aragon Entertainment Center, the hall hosts a variety of Spanish language and Vietnamese language shows as well as English language rock concerts. The occasional boxing events are also still held there.
- Chicago Cheetah Club Opener. Jet. 3 November 1966. Retrieved 12 June 2010.
- Behrens, Jack, ed. (2006). Big Bands and Great Ballrooms: America is Dancing Again. AuthorHouse. p. 204. ISBN 1-4259-6977-1. Retrieved 12 June 2010.
- Extensive Listing of Aragon Ballroom Concerts from '68 thru '99
- Aragon Ballroom (Chicago) official web site
- 1925 Article about Aragon Ballroom, Chicago Daily Tribune
- 1925 Article about Aragon Ballroom, Chicago Evening American
- Hear Dick Jurgens perform live from the Aragon Ballroom in December 1950
- Animated History of the Uptown Chicago Entertainment District
- Aragon Ballroom History-Jazz Age Chicago
- Obama Celebrates Birthday in Chicago