Catching His Eye on the (Ecstatic) Dance Floor

When Sanjay Aakash Amin told his therapist that, one year after breaking off an engagement, he still had reservations about meeting people in bars or on apps, she suggested he attend an ecstatic dance party.

The event, which he described as “a no judgment dance party where you move however you feel,” took place in January 2020, at a now-closed venue in Portland, Ore. Within 15 minutes of arriving, Mr. Amin caught sight of Rachael Anne Cruthirds.

“I noticed that she had a calm confidence about her,” he said, and that she “made piercing eye contact.” But the two never spoke, because talking is not allowed while ecstatic dancing.

At the end of the event, as Mr. Amin was adding his information to the venue’s contact list, he noticed that Ms. Cruthirds had put her email address on the list, and memorized it. He later wrote to her, acknowledging the possible violation of privacy. To his delight, she replied saying she was willing to overlook it. After exchanging a few emails, they made plans to meet for tea.

Mr. Amin left that date, in February 2020, feeling as if the two were meant to connect. “You know how sometimes you feel guided? Like you’re watching a movie of yourself? That’s what I felt the night Rachael and I met,” he said. Ms. Cruthirds was also struck by their chemistry. “I felt like we connected on every level,” she said.

Raised in Redmond, Ore., Ms. Cruthirds, 31, is a graduate of George Fox University in Newberg, Ore. She works as yoga and infant massage therapy instructor. Mr. Amin, 37, who grew up in Old Bridge, N.J., is a graduate of Northwestern University and holds an M.B.A. from Columbia Business School. He is the head of music and premium subscription partnerships at YouTube.

Both then living in Portland, they thought they would have to wait a month before seeing each another again because Mr. Amin had plans to travel. But the emerging pandemic put his plans on hold. “So our second date was a bit sooner than I expected,” he said.

They managed to fit in several more dates before Mr. Amin moved to Los Angeles that March, a plan that was in place before he met Ms. Cruthirds. He arrived two days before the city went into lockdown. But two weeks later, after several lengthy FaceTime calls with Ms. Cruthirds, Mr. Amin made a 15-hour drive back to Oregon to quarantine with her.

“I told my roommates that if there was any chance with Rachael, I needed to be in Portland,” he said.

Ms. Cruthirds was excited about the opportunity to get to know Mr. Amin better, even if his abrupt return was “a little crazy,” she said, adding that her biggest worry at the time was “what he was possibly sacrificing for me if it didn’t work out.”

They spent the next five months “cooking a lot and going to parks” together, Mr. Amin said. Before the summer of 2020 had ended, it became clear that the risk he took in returning to Portland had paid off.

That August, after a day of paddle boarding, “Rachael looked at me and said, ‘I think I love you,’” Mr. Amin said. “I laughed and said, ‘I think I love you, too.’”

Explaining what endeared her to him, Ms. Cruthirds put it this way: “The man made me a scrapbook of our first 100 dates. Need I say more?”

Later that year, after Mr. Amin returned to Los Angeles, they began a period of traveling back and forth between his home in the city’s Venice neighborhood and hers in Portland. They became engaged in November 2021, after he proposed on the beach in Venice, where the couple now lives.

On June 4, they were married before 160 guests at the Columbia Gorge Hotel & Spa in Hood River, Ore. The day before, to honor the groom’s Indian heritage, the couple held a sangeet, or pre-wedding party, in the gymnasium of the Society Hotel, in Bingen, Wash.

Scott Lamb, a friend of the bride and the pastor of Emmaus Life Evangelical Free Church in Eugene, Ore., officiated at the ceremony. It incorporated Indian traditions including the exchange of garlands and the seven steps around the havan, a small fire, which were led by Swami Jagadishwarananda of the Brahma Premananda Ashram in Portland.

While at the altar, the bride said that “everything else seemed to fade” as she stared into the groom’s eyes. “It was awesome.”