How They Met

Twin Cities couples on the moment they found love

John Sand and Sohail Justin Akhavein knew of each other while attending the University of Minnesota, where John (now a store manager at LEN) majored in genetics and cultural studies and Sohail (now a copy writer and yoga teacher) studied journalism, sociology, and fine art. But their first impromptu date wasn't until the Snowpocalypse blizzard of 2010, when they found themselves snowed in together the night after a mutual friend's party.

Sohail: It was pretty bad, and everyone was kind of locked in their houses and traffic was at a standstill. We were snowed in, and we spent the day walking around Franklin Avenue and surrounding blocks helping people that were trapped in their cars and whatnot.

John: A lot of couples end up seeing each other maybe on a weekly basis for a while, and then a little bit more frequently. But our [relationship] kind of just happened because of the snow. We were just stuck together essentially for, I think, almost three days before we were able to get back to my house. So for a while we walked around and helped dig peoples' cars our of the snow —

S: Like gay superheroes.

J: — and for a while after that we just watched things on Netflix. For like three days.

S: So now we don't really have an anniversary. We just usually say, whenever there's the first huge snowfall, that was the start of our romance. 

Xu & Dan

For Dan Reuter and Xu Yue, it was love at first sickness. After graduating from Hamline University, Dan moved to Hangzhou, China, to teach English, where he met Xu at Zhejiang University in 2006. Four years and a marriage later, the couple moved back to St. Paul.

Dan: I organized a dinner at my apartment for students who passed an English proficiency test as a congratulatory thing, and Xu came. I cooked food ... luckily nobody besides me ate it, because it was so bad I got food poisoning.

Xu: Since I was there, I felt obligated to take him to the hospital!

D: We developed a friendship and would text each other quite a bit. About nine months later, I sent her a text asking her if she wanted to go on a date.

X: Actually, you asked me if I wanted to be your girlfriend. I thought, are you seriously texting me? Grow some balls and ask me in person!

D: It took a few days, but she eventually said she'd date me and the rest is history. It was right about the 2006 World Cup, and we'd stay out all night and watch the games together. It's been quite the international love affair. 

Christian & Janey

If you go to local rock shows, you're probably familiar with Christian Erickson and Janey Winterbauer. When they aren't out watching their friends' bands play, the couple are taking the stage themselves — Erickson fronting the band Blue Sky Blackout, and Winterbauer as a singer in the house band for American Public Media's Wits series. They've been married for 12 years and have two kids. Erickson is a co-owner of design and marketing agency Zeus Jones (which was behind the orange Vote No rings last fall), while many locals know Winterbauer for her Twitter handle, @WinnerBowzer.

Inevitably, though, the story of how they met revolves around the music scene.

Janey: The first time I met Christian I was standing outside of a rock club on Lake Street. I was dating a guy that was in his roommates' band and he had invited me to the show. They wouldn't let me in because I wasn't 21; I was only 17. And I'd spent my last three dollars getting there on the bus, so I had to stand there outside and wait for them for four hours.

Christian: I remember seeing you standing outside, and the first thing was like, "Who is that poor girl?" The second thing I remember was you were kind of rocking a raver outfit —

J: This was 1994. I was a total raver for a full six months.

C: You had big old bell bottoms and I don't even remember what else. Then the second time was, there was this band called Nectar, and its singer had quit. My roommate, who was mutual friends of all of ours, said, "Oh, Janey is now the singer in this band." I think I was there for the first show you sang with Nectar, at the Entry.

J: Yeah.

C: That's when it was obvious that, you know, you were super cute and could really sing, and that was really, really cool. But we still didn't quote-unquote "hit it off," right?

J: No, because I thought you were one of those really old, cool people that wouldn't talk to anybody that was young and green. I didn't even think it was worth trying to talk to you. But then you came up to me and asked me to sing in your project [Astronaut Wife].

C: That was the third one, right? We were at the Fine Line.

J: Yes, it was the Fine Line. That was 1998, and I was super flattered, and I thought it was super awesome; nobody had ever asked me to do anything like that before. Then we started talking and I was dating this guy that I wasn't really getting along with very well. It was kind of cool because I finally broke up with him and I went to band practice and I [told] Christian. And he laughed! I was like, "Why are you laughing?" I realized later he was laughing because he was glad, because he liked me.

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