Thursday, December 24, 2009

Aragon Memories

The Chicago History Museum's blog features the Aragon Ballroom and an interview with a woman who met her husband there in the early 1950s:

To get a sense of what the Aragon was like in its ballroom heyday, I talked with Ms. Jesse North. As a young woman in the late 1940s and early 1950s, she danced at the Aragon. For her, Saturday night at the Aragon was a special occasion. The girls dressed up — corsages and all. She remembers dancing the two-step, cha-cha, and tango.

Read and listen to her story here.


  1. My mom and aunt use to go to Aragon in 40s to listen to Dick Jergens.They would come from southside over to Uptown to dance there.

  2. Sounds like memories from my mom, dad, aunts & uncles from the Big Band era.

    My own memories of the Aragon focus more on the time my friend and I were entering the hall to go to a rock concert sometime in the 70s/80s, and the security guys were running a kid into the ground (ok, carpet) and confiscating his stash.

  3. I'd like to note that anyone who has been there recently would remark that it is pretty close to its original "hey-day". The restoration they have done there is nothing short of marvelous!

  4. Way back around 1972-73, I worked at the Aragon. A college fraternity brother of mine from Loyola was the nephew of the owner. We always referred to him as 'Uncle Art'. As the somewhat romantic story goes, Uncle Art met his future wife at the Aragon, and after a very successful career in the heating and air conditioning business, Uncle Art bought the Aragon as a token to his wife of many years.

    I worked there for boxing events, rock concerts, and what we called Spanish dances because almost all of the crowd spoke only Spanish. I saw many a rock band back in those days, either up and coming bands or some one hit wonders, that had seen the top and were trying to stay there, but just didn't have what it takes.

    One night, Sly and The Family Stone was playing there and we were kind of nervous because there had been a near riot that summer when they were supposed to play in Grant Park and they didn't show up. We didn't know what to expect. For those not around back then, Sly and The Family Stone's Greatest Hits was THE DANCE ALBUM being played everywhere. The night of the concert, the crowds stayed away fearing a repeat of the band's reputation for being a no show. It was so slow at the bar that my girl and I were able to go out on the Aragon ballroom floor and dance live to Sly and The Family Stone, to this day one of my fonder memories of my youth!

    Not quite as memorable as my FIRST concert however, at the then, Kinetic Playground on Feb 7th, 1969. No connection to the current venue across the street from the Aragon, it was housed in what was part of the gone but not forgotten, Rainbo Skating Rink, a few blocks east of the Aragon on Clark and Lawrence. The Aragon, at that time, had changed it's name to The Cheetah. The line up? None other than Led Zepplin, Jethro Tull and Vanilla Fudge! But that's a story for another day.

  5. I grew up in Northwest Indiana and just last month, around Thanksgiving, I was visiting my neighbor who was telling me about how her and her husband would drive up from Gary to dance at the Aragon. I've never been in there but I heard the restoration looks great :)

  6. My mom, her sisters and their friends used to frequent the Aragon Ballroom, and the Trianon. She has very fond memories of this place, and talks often about it. They saw artists such as; Orchestra leaders Tex Cromer, and Dick Jurgens (w/vocalists The Two Handsome Lads Ray McIntosh & Al Galante), Band leaders Ray Pearl, and Billy Bishop (w/vocalists Elaine Powell & Alice Mann). The Aragon on Lawrence near Broadway and the Trianon on Cottage Grove at 62nd.