Aragon Ballroom (Chicago)

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Coordinates: 41°58′10.03″N 87°39′29.28″W / 41.9694528°N 87.6581333°W / 41.9694528; -87.6581333

Aragon Ballroom
Aragon Ballroom (3453018952).jpg
Former names Aragon Ballroom
Address 1106 W. Lawrence Ave.
Location Chicago, Illinois
Owner Luis Rossi,
Ivan Fernandez,
Live Nation
Type Ballroom
Capacity 5,000
Opened 1926 (1926)

Aragon Ballroom is a ballroom located at West Lawrence Avenue in Chicago, Illinois, approximately 5 miles (8 km) north of downtown, in the Uptown neighborhood.


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.

The ceiling looked like the sky, the clouds moved across the stars.

According to legend, the secret tunnels under the nearby Green Mill bar, a Prohibition-era hangout of Al Capone, lead to the Aragon's basement.

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)[1][2] 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.

In 2015, the theatre was used in the filming of Zack Snyder's Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, doubling as the theatre where Thomas (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Martha Wayne (Lauren Cohan) get shot.[3] The sign for the venue and the marquee was temporarily reconstructed, and taken off once the filming had been completed.[4]

Live recordings[edit]

On October 23, 1993 grunge band Nirvana played The Aragon for their final show in Chicago. They played the song You Know You're Right which was recorded and bootlegged for 9 years until they decided to release the studio version on October 8, 2002

On November 18, 1994 punk rock band Green Day filmed their "MTV Jaded in Chicago" concert to a sold-out crowd at the Aragon.

On August 22, 1995, a Soul Asylum concert was recorded at the Aragon for the Album Network and two songs were released on the "Promises Broken" CD single.

On June 26, 2004, funk metal band Primus filmed their first concert DVD, Hallucino-Genetics, at the Aragon.

During a performance on October 17, 2009, sludge metal band Mastodon recorded a live album and concert DVD at the venue. Live at the Aragon was released on March 15, 2011.

In June 2013, Third Man Records released a live album of The White Stripes' performance at the venue from July 2, 2003 as part of their From the Vault series.


  1. ^ Chicago Cheetah Club Opener. Jet. 3 November 1966. Retrieved 12 June 2010. 
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ "Proof Batman v Superman Will Kill Off Bruce Wayne's Parents". 2014-11-12. Retrieved 2016-02-28. 
  4. ^ "Aragon Ballroom Sign Returns to Dilapidated Look After 'Batman' Makeover". DNAinfo Chicago. Retrieved 2016-04-21. 

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