Just like the city of Chicago, the Aragon Ballroom is a perfect example of tenacity, resilience and survival. From the time it first opened its doors in the second half of the 1920s to this day and age, this famous ballroom has stood the biggest test of them all, the test of time.
The Aragon Ballroom was the place to be in Chicago. That was where music fans used to turn up to swing to the music of the biggest musical acts of the time. The Windy City was developing a reputation of a cultural and artistic hub and the Aragon played a central role in it.
Some of the biggest names in music will once again make their way to the venue this year. If you are a fan of music, then book your Aragon Ballroom tickets and watch your favorite acts perform live at one of the finest performing arts venues in the country.
The Early Chicago Dancing Culture
Public dancing was becoming extremely popular by the time 1920s rolled into town. At that time while public dancing was becoming popular all around the United States, the dance halls in Chicago did not have a very good reputation. They were considered of low cleanliness levels, where women were objectified and illegal alcohol was distributed.
William and Andrew Karzas were two brothers who took it upon themselves to change this perception of the city’s ballrooms. They first opened the Trianon Ballroom in the year 1922. An elegantly designed ballroom, it had a very spacious dance floor, though the music played here was slower than what was being played in a lot of other ballrooms. Chaperones were extremely vigilant too and they used to make sure that nothing untoward took place. Those steps played a big part in making people more comfortable in terms of making their way to the ballroom to dance.
The Aragon Ballroom
The Karzas Brothers then decided to open a new venue a few years later. The result was the Aragon Ballroom that opened its doors for the public for the very first time in 1926.
Andrew was responsible for the designing of the venue and did a very good job. It was designed in the Moorish style of architecture and was named after a region in Spain. There were grand chandeliers, murals, mosaics and even palm trees. Not only that, but lights were also added to the ceilings that used to twinkle at night. That used to give the dancers the impression that they were dancing under the sky. The ballroom itself resembled the courtyard of a Moorish castle and the dance floor used to vibrate to the music being played by the bands.
No alcohol was served either. Add the extremely vigilant but courteous staff to the equation and the Aragon Ballroom was a venue unlike any other at the time of its opening. The idea behind the architecture, design and management policies was to change the perception about dancing in public.
The opening event took place on July 15, 1926 and it was a huge success. People from all walks of life made their way to the Aragon Ballroom to celebrate the opening of the venue. Among the thousands who attended the opening was the former mayor of the city William Hale Thompson.
The Karzas Brothers were business savvy and therefore knew in order to attract people to the ballroom regularly they needed more than their management and admission policies. So, they decided to book some of the biggest jazz bands around at the time to perform at the Aragon Ballroom. It turned out to be a masterstroke and thousands of residents began to turn up every night to dance at the Aragon.
The Aragon Over the Years
The Aragon Ballroom’s attendance figures topped a whopping eighteen thousand on a regular basis for much of the 20s, 30s and 40s. A lot of that was down to the extremely high standards and rules that the management had set for the patrons. Women were to wear semi-formal dresses while the men were asked to wear jackets and ties if they were to enter the Aragon Ballroom. Smoking was banned on the second floor and close dancing was not encouraged either.
Its location played a big part in it attracting huge crowds from not only the city’s North Side but the whole of Chicago. The Aragon Ballroom was situated very close to the “L” which ran right next to the west wall of the building. The close proximity to public transport was a big plus.
In 1958, fire broke out at a cocktail lounge right next to the Aragon Ballroom as a result of which it had to be shut down for a few months. When it re-opened, things just weren’t the same. Crowds began to dwindle and it hit such a low that regular dance schedules had to be shelved in 1964.
The venue changed ownership multiple times and the new management turned it into a discotheque, a boxing venue, roller skating rink and even a flea market. It soon returned to its culture and popular music roots and things began to look up once again. One of the biggest features of the 1970s were the “monster rock’ shows which used to be marathon events lasting even up to eight hours at a time. Over the subsequent decades, the types of the events that were being held at the ballroom became more diverse. Boxing events, film shootings and different rock and pop artists also began to perform at the Aragon Ballroom.
The Concert History
Some of the biggest names in music history have performed at the Aragon Ballroom over the course of its illustrious history. The list includes, Metallica, Nirvana, Green Day, David Bowie, Buddy Miles, Alice in Chains, Phish, Keith Richards, Soundgarden, Styx, Oasis, John Carpenter, Dua Lipa, All Time Low, Deadmau5, The 1975 and Lana Del Rey are just some of the musical acts that have performed at the Aragon Ballroom.
This year, fans will get to see stars like Walk The Moon, Ganja White Night, Gerardo Ortiz, Awolnation, Portugal The Man, Excision, Tyler The Creator and G-Eazy perform at the venue. If you want to be part of the festivities, then book your Aragon Ballroom tickets at the first chance you get.