Luis Aragon is the director, founder and choreographer of Aragon Dance.
Luis Aragon is one of the most well-known instructors, DJs, and promoters in Orange County. He has been dancing for over 10 years and has trained in many styles of dances. With hard work and determination he has established himself as one of the best instructors in all Orange County area
How did you get started in the dance scene?
Like most guys, over a girl(chuckles). I was raised LDS (Church of Latter Day Saints) aka Mormon, and one of the activities was taking a salsa class. I was immediately attracted to the teacher’s assistant and I remember I told myself I had to learn this dance. The learning process was slow and I remember trying to find more classes but I couldn’t. For me, it was all new, I really wanted to learn more. One of my first outings was to JC Fandango, which was a really popular place at the time. I remember going and everyone was dressed up, the live music was great, and the atmosphere was cool. It was at that moment that I really knew I wanted to dance.
Tapas recently closed in 2017 but has always been a well known dance location in Orange County. Tell me about what it was like promoting there.
Tapas, Stevens, Granada - are/were the main three clubs that have been open for many years. Tapas was 21 and over and has always attracted an older crowd. It was hood. I think people don’t understand- as our dance communities develop and the level of dancing improves, many kids are growing up as young athletes. At the end of the day, the dance is the people’s dance, it’s a street dance, it’s hood.
What are some things you learned as a promoter?
Promoting is ruthless. I didn’t have a teacher or mentor so I learned as I was going. As a promoter, you think that you’re selling the dance or venue - but, in reality, you’re selling yourself, people go because of you. If people don’t like you, they’ll go out of their way to not go to your venue. As a teacher, you focus on your students. Becoming a promoter, you need to think “how do I get people in these doors.” It’s not always about the music or venue.
It’s the small things like walking around and introducing yourself to everyone. I try to be personable with everyone and give time to getting to know new students. At the end of the day people just want to be acknowledged.
You’re pretty busy as a promoter, why do you go out and social dance on your time off?
I go out because I want to see what other promoters are doing. Are they doing something new, or something relative that I can apply? As well as the DJs - what are they playing? Are they playing something new and am I thinking “wow, that was a dope song.” It’s good to keep up with trends. Sometimes it’s nice to go out, chill, and enjoy the music.
Describe a typical day.
So usually I get home around 2-4 AM. When I do events, I’m there until 4 to take everything down, put it in my car, unload it, and get to bed by 5. I wake up around 10 AM, so about 5 hours of sleep. I’m always working on flyers, downloading music, and organizing events. Being both, a salsa and bachata DJ/promoter keeps me very busy. I’m constantly looking for new music and going to vinyl shops.
Do you plan on throwing your own festival?
It’s been on my mind, but the market is so saturated and I feel like every festival is the same. I think the Brazilian Zouk festivals are doing the best in thinking outside the box. They manage their budgets well and bring great talent abroad. I like seeing non-salsa/bachata festivals that are doing things differently.
I think Reno is a prime example of when you have a great team in place for years. There are no hiccups or issues because they have everything in place. They have 10 plus years of experience.
Have you thought about producing?
I recently downloaded Ableton but I have so many projects going on that I haven’t had time to try it out. When I’m ready I’ll find someone to teach me. Producing is a whole different level. You got to learn you instruments, your keys.. I think at the end of the day, song selection is the most important. You can produce your own music, have the best transitions, but if you can’t read your crowd- it doesn’t matter.
What’s one thing we don’t know about you?
I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 12. I try to stay 60/70% vegan. I also love quantum physics and listen to a podcast by Neil DeGrasse called StarTalk. I’m also a big outdoors person. I’ve done most big parks and enjoy backpacking.