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.
Front cover Copyright Contents Acknowledgments Introduction 1. Take Me Back to Dear Old Blighty 2. About Town 3. Only Forty-five Minutes from Broadway 4. "We would be much happier if we just relaxed and enjoyed school life 5. "I could tell by looking at him that he was not my cup of tea 6. Zowie, "the Monarch of Mystery 7. "They liked to test out their guns 8. Enfin . . . une Revue 9. "I saw the fat years ahead 10. Everybody's Doing It 11. "Two adolescent palm trees 12. "Gowns are more or less a business with me 13. "The best dancing music in the world 14. "More like a pair of schoolchildren 15. "Syncopation rules the nation 16. "The Most Talked About House in New York 17. "Dancing with Vernon was as easy as swimming with water wings 18. "The spirit of success . . . oozes from these two young people 19. "The Castles Are Coming! Hooray! Hooray! 20. "We were both miserable on those vaudeville tours 21. "Their enthusiastic followers never . . . go to bed at all 22. "Mrs. Castle is exhausted 23. "Castles in the subway,/Castles in the 'L' 24. "Oh, give me a gun and let me run to fight the foreign foe 25. "When I get old I shall be able to tell our children all about the Great War 26. "Kiss all the pets for me, dear 27. "A super motion picture of . . . epoch-making magnificence 28. "He was out to see the Kaiser defeated 29. "An hour's pleasant diversion 30. I Love My Wife, but Oh, You Kid! 31. "Never in my life have I been subjected to such humiliation 32. "His plane dove straight into the ground 33. "Death is nothing to me, sweetheart 34. "Robert was sweet, sympathetic, and besides he did all of my bidding 35. "A well-known dancing dame 36. "Poor Irene Castle. She certainly isn't what she used to be. 37. "Jazs, jazz, jazz! . . . The paradings of savages 38. "To Chicago high society, she was a chorus girl 39. Orphans of the Storm 40. "What do you do for an encore to what they had? 41. The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle 42. "Isn't old age awful! Appendix: Stage and Film Appearances of Vernon and Irene Castle Notes Bibliography Index PHOTO INSERT.
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Print version: Golden, Eve Vernon and Irene Castle's Ragtime Revolution