www.hotaugustnights.net for complete schedule of events
THE HISTORY OF HOT AUGUST NIGHTS
About 7:30 on the evening of Saturday, August 1, 1986, the Reno-Sparks Convention Center was bursting at the seams. Hundreds of revelers were still outside, partying, cheering and pushing to be let in to a first-time event of a magnitude yet to be realized. Inside, ten thousand applauding teen- agers of the 50’s & 60’s” were massed together in anticipation of seeing and hearing the Righteous Brothers, Wolfman Jack, and Jan & Dean…live!
It was an event whose time had come. The pent-up demand was there, waiting for someone with foresight and vision to unleash the nostalgia of the 50’s & 60’s… a time of innocence, prosperity, cars and the birth of Rock and Roll. We “Baby Boomers” were ready to return to the good times, the “happy days,” our youth. The weather was right – HOT; the place was right – RENO; the time was right – AUGUST — HOT AUGUST NIGHTS was born!
The aim was to fill a void in tourism in Reno during the month of August and to raise money for local charities. The exact sequence of events and how the name, “Hot August Nights”, was conceived depends on with whom you speak. Some say it was a great reason for a party and some felt it could be a dynamic event, drawing people throughout the Western states. The founders came up with the idea of a concert and related events celebrating the origins of Rock n’ Roll. Next, the Event needed volunteers to help out. Sponsors were also necessary. That first year there were only thirty volunteers, plus the Board of Directors. The total budget was $65,000. Assembling entertainment was a challenge. Bill Medley (Righteous Brothers) had just undergone throat surgery, but reluctantly agreed to perform, as well as Bobby Hatfield. Wolfman Jack came along with Jan & Dean. The first concert was held Friday night in the Convention Center parking lot. The beer flowed, the atmosphere was charged – and middle-aged hearts were 16 again! Most hadn’t danced to “that” music, to a live band, under the stars, since high school. The memories flooded back and so did the desire for more!
That first year of Hot August Nights was more of a nostalgia event than a car event. But, did the organizers learn! The car parade on Friday night was the highlight of the Event for the participants and the crowds who thronged Virginia Street. No one remembers exactly how many cars were in that first parade, you “registered” on the spot, and they were lined up six abreast on North Virginia Street across from Lawlor Events Center. The car owners were thrilled to show off their cars. They’d never had so many people “oohing and aahing” over their “works of art”. It was a proud moment for nostalgia car buffs, they were beaming… and they wanted more! And here we are to today!