Locking eyes across the Crystals dance floor may not exactly be the stuff of fairytales, but it has been the first chapter of many Mid Wales love stories over the last 30 years.
The club was at the heart of Newtown’s nightlife scene from September 1987 until its closure last week – and within months of opening it was already providing the backdrop for romance to strike under the strobe lights.
In late November 1987, Julie Hagerty, then Julie Long, was out for the evening with an old family friend who was visiting from the USA.
That night they shared a dance just before closing time, and, now aged 60 and 83, they’ve been happily married for 27 years.
Bill and Julie Hagerty on their wedding day in 1990.
“I hadn’t seen him for about 20 years,” Julie recalls.
“Then that November he came over to Britain and was spending a month in St Asaph in North Wales, so he took a little weekend break and came to stay at my home.”
That Saturday night, Julie and her friends Derek and Theresa took Bill out to the Elephant and Castle before crossing the road to check out the newly opened club.
“He was an introvert – he hadn’t really done any nightclubbing,” says Julie.
“We just wanted a place you could talk. I hadn’t seen him for a long time and wasn’t going to see him again, I thought.
“But the music was so loud there wasn’t anything to do except dance.”
Julie and Theresa danced the night away while Bill and Derek watched on, until it was time for the last song.
Julie remembers: “The last song was Chris De Burgh’s ‘Lady in Red’.
“I was wearing a red dress. That was his cue!”
Bill and Julie had their first dance and when the song finished they talked and walked back to Julie’s house on Vaynor.
They had known each other since Bill worked with Julie’s father at a prison in Buckinghamshire, where she grew up.
Bill stayed in touch with the family after he returned to Ohio, while Julie moved to Wales and had four children.
That night as they strolled along the river, they vowed to meet again.
Still going strong after 27 years.
“I’m writing a memoir at the moment so I have been immersed, reading back through the 600 letters we wrote each other over the next two years,” says Julie.
“He came back to see me a couple of times and I moved over to Cincinnati in 1990 on a 90-day fiancée visa. We got married six weeks later.”
After crossing the pond to finally be with Bill, Julie completed a degree and then a master’s before becoming an English teacher, while Bill was a professor at Xavier University until his retirement at the age of 81.
Despite never returning to the place they shared their first dance, Julie and Bill will always be grateful for the part it played in their love story.
“‘Lady in Red is now our song,” says Julie.
“We had no idea when we went into Crystals that night where we would end up.”