The AGORA/AGORA BALLROOM has been an innovative dance club and concert hall since the 1960s. Its support of local bands, new music styles, and upcoming national recording acts helped create a strong local club scene. The Agora was opened on 6 July 1967 at 2175 Cornell Rd. by Henry J. LoConti, Sr. and several partners. Featuring the local band, Selective Service, it was initially a members-only dance club featuring 3.2 draft beer. The club moved to 1730 E. 24th St., close to FENN COLLEGE (see CLEVELAND STATE UNIV.) in 1968. It was soon packed Wednesday through Sunday, featuring local bands playing current dance hits. In 1971 the Agora began promoting concerts featuring national recording acts such as the Velvet Underground, the Flaming Groovies, the Bob Seeger System, the Amboy Dukes, Jim Croce, and Batdorf & Rodney, as well as local bands with record albums such as Circus, I Don't Care, the Glass Harp, and Tiny Alice Jug Band. That year, in the upstairs studio, Agency Recording began broadcasting live Sunday night concerts in cooperation with progressive FM station WNCR.
By 1974 Monday and Tuesday nights were established as regular concert nights. Sponsored by WMMS-FM, the concerts were recorded and broadcast at 10:00 PM on Wednesday nights. Throughout the 1970s the Agora presented first-time touring acts such as Bruce Springsteen, Bad Company, Kiss, Peter Frampton, the Charlie Daniels Band, the Outlaws, the Michael Stanley Band, Southside Johnny, Aerosmith, and Eddie Money. The Agora's popularity began dwindling in 1977 with the advent of disco and the tightening of WMMS's format. The Agora closed its doors after a small fire in Oct. 1984. Three years later, the Agora reopened at the WHK Auditorium and METROPOLITAN THEATER, located at 5000 Euclid Ave. Since that time, the Agora continues to present new musical trends, young and up-coming touring acts, and local bands. In 2011, the LoConti family donated the Agora to MidTown Cleveland Inc., a nonprofit organization. Henry LoConti, Sr. died in 2014 at the age of 85.
Updated by Christopher Roy
Last updated: 8/8/2023