Remember the song from the night you met your spouse, or the hit that reminds you of college? You’re not alone. Uruguayan radio DJ Pablo Lecueder, 53, believes music has unrivaled power to conjure up the most important experiences in our lives. “To remember is beautiful,” says Lecueder, who directs Montevideo-based radio station Océano FM, “but with music even more so.”
That sentiment led Lecueder to create La Noche de La Nostalgia—one night every year when Uruguayans come together to listen to old songs and bask in memories. He first hosted the event in 1978, on the eve of Uruguay’s August 25 independence holiday. It soon became an annual tradition. These days, Nostalgia Night has become so popular that “people say the reason for the [August 25] holiday is to recover,” jokes Lecueder.
One reason for its popularity has nothing to do with music. “Uruguayans are nostalgic,” says Lecueder. “We always say old times were better.”
In the 1950s and 1960s Uruguay was a prosperous country of World Cup champions. The first nostalgia nights reflected those years, with songs by the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel and Neil Diamond.
Years later, the party found a home at Zum Zum, a disco Lecueder went to as a teenager. A long-standing couples-only rule still stands, but Lecueder says “the definition of a couple is much broader” now and extends to same-sex partners. Today, the music includes tango-infused tunes of the 1970s alongside disco and hard rock of the 1980s and 1990s.