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Vernon and Irene Castle's Ragtime Revolution

Golden, Eve (Book - 2007)
Vernon and Irene Castle's Ragtime Revolution
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University of Kentucky

Vernon and Irene Castle popularized ragtime dancing in the years just before World War I and made dancing a respectable pastime in America. The whisper-thin, elegant Castles were trendsetters in many ways: they traveled with a black orchestra, had an openly lesbian manager, and were animal-rights advocates decades before it became a public issue. Irene was also a fashion innovator, bobbing her hair ten years before the flapper look of the 1920s became popular. From their marriage in 1911 until 1916, the Castles were the most famous and influential dance team in the world. Their dancing schools and nightclubs were packed with society figures and white-collar workers alike. After their peak of white-hot fame, Vernon enlisted in the Royal Canadian Flying Corps, served at the front lines, and was killed in a 1918 airplane crash. Irene became a movie star and appeared in more than a dozen films between 1917 and 1922. The Castles were depicted in the Fred Astaire--Ginger Rogers movie The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939), but the film omitted most of the interesting and controversial aspects of their lives. They were more complex than posterity would have it: Vernon was charming but irresponsible, Irene was strong-minded but self-centered, and the couple had filed for divorce before Vernon's death (information that has never before been made public). Vernon and Irene Castle's Ragtime Revolution is the fascinating story of a couple who reinvented dance and its place in twentieth-century culture.


Vernon and Irene Castle popularized ragtime dancing in the years just before World War I and made dancing a respectable pastime in America. The whisper-thin, elegant Castles were trendsetters in many ways: they traveled with a black orchestra, had an openly lesbian manager, and were animal-rights advocates decades before it became a public issue. Irene was also a fashion innovator, bobbing her hair ten years before the flapper look of the 1920s became popular. From their marriage in 1911 until 1916, the Castles were the most famous and influential dance team in the world. Their dancing schools and nightclubs were packed with society figures and white-collar workers alike. After their peak of white-hot fame, Vernon enlisted in the Royal Canadian Flying Corps, served at the front lines, and was killed in a 1918 airplane crash. Irene became a movie star and appeared in more than a dozen films between 1917 and 1922. The Castles were depicted in the Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers movie The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939), but the film omitted most of the interesting and controversial aspects of their lives. They were more complex than posterity would have it: Vernon was charming but irresponsible, Irene was strong-minded but self-centered, and the couple had filed for divorce before Vernon's death (information that has never before been made public). Vernon and Irene Castle's Ragtime Revolution is the fascinating story of a couple who reinvented dance and its place in twentieth-century culture.


Vernon and Irene Castle popularized ragtime dancing in the years just before World War I and made dancing a respectable pastime in America. The whisper-thin, elegant Castles were trendsetters in many ways: they traveled with a black orchestra, had an openly lesbian manager, and were animal-rights advocates decades before it became a public issue. Irene was also a fashion innovator, bobbing her hair ten years before the flapper look of the 1920s became popular. From their marriage in 1911 until 1916, the Castles were the most famous and influential dance team in the world. Their dancing schools and nightclubs were packed with society figures and white-collar workers alike. After their peak of white-hot fame, Vernon enlisted in the Royal Canadian Flying Corps, served at the front lines, and was killed in a 1918 airplane crash. Irene became a movie star and appeared in more than a dozen films between 1917 and 1922. The Castles were depicted in the Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers movie Vernon and Irene Castle's Ragtime Revolution (1939), but the film omitted most of the interesting and controversial aspects of their lives. They were more complex than posterity would have it: Vernon was charming but irresponsible, Irene was strong-minded but self-centered, and the couple had filed for divorce before Vernon's death (information that has never before been made public). Vernon and Irene Castle's Ragtime Revolution is the fascinating story of a couple who reinvented dance and its place in twentieth-century culture.



Authors: Golden, Eve
Statement of Responsibility: Eve Golden
Title: Vernon and Irene Castle's ragtime revolution
Publisher: Lexington, Ky. : University Press of Kentucky, c2007
Characteristics: viii, 315 p., [16] p. of plates : ill. ; 24 cm.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (p. [268]-301) and index
Contents: Take me back to dear old Blighty
About town
Only forty-five minutes from Broadway
"We would be much happier if we just relaxed and enjoyed school life"
"I could tell by looking at him that he was not my cup of tea"
Zowie, "the monarch of mystery"
"They liked to test out their guns "
Enfin ... une revue
"I saw the fat years ahead!"
Everybody's doing it
"Two adolescent palm trees"
"Gowns are more or less a business with me"
"The best dancing music in the world"
"More like a pair of schoolchildren"
"Syncopation rules the nation"
"The most talked about house in New York"
"Dancing with Vernon was as easy as swimming with water wings"
"The spirit of success ... oozes from these two young people"
"The Castles are coming! Hooray! Hooray!"
"We were both miserable on those vaudeville tours"
"Their enthusiastic followers never ... go to bed at all"
"Mrs. Castle is exhausted"
"Castles in the subway, / Castles in the 'L'"
"Oh, give me a gun and let me run to fight the foreign foe"
"When I get old I shall be able to tell our children all about the Great War"
"Kiss all the pets for me, dear"
"A super motion picture of ... epoch-making magnificence"
"He was out to see the Kaiser defeated"
"An hour's pleasant diversion"
I love my wife, but, oh, you kid!
"Never in my life have I been subjected to such humiliation"
"His plane dove straight into the ground"
"Death is nothing to me, sweetheart"
"Robert was sweet, sympathetic, and besides he did all of my bidding"
"A well-known dancing dame"
"Poor Irene Castle. She certainly isn't what she used to be"
"Jazz, jazz, jazz! ... the paradings of savages
"To Chicago high society, she was a chorus girl"
Orphans of the storm
"What do you do for an encore to what they had?"
The story of Vernon and Irene Castle
"Isn't old age awful!"
Subject Headings: Castle, Vernon, 1887-1918 Castle, Irene, 1893-1969 Dancers United States Biography Ballroom dancing United States History Ragtime music History and criticism
Topical Term: Dancers
Ballroom dancing
Ragtime music
LCCN: 2007026425
ISBN: 9780813124599
081312459X
Branch Call Number: 927.93 G
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Golden, Eve
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