Castle [Blyth], Vernon and Irene (née Foote)
- Ronald M. Radano
Vernon (b Norwich, England, May 2, 1887; d Fort Benbrook, TX, February 15, 1918). Irene (b New Rochelle, NY, April 7, 1893; d Eureka Springs, AR, January 25, 1969). American ballroom and exhibition dancers. The Castles (married in 1911) began to appear as a dance team in New York clubs in 1912. They danced in the musical The Sunshine Girl (1913), gaining wide appeal partly because of the enthusiasm among the upper classes in New York for the new steps of vernacular dance. By 1914 they had become the city’s most popular social dance team, appearing in Broadway shows and silent films, and they enjoyed great success with their book Modern Dancing (1914/R 1980). The Castles owned several entertainment centers where they performed and taught social dancing; the dances that they popularized, including the Castle Walk (a variant of the one-step, danced on the toes with stiff knees), hesitation waltz, and foxtrot, merged patrician sophistication with sexual suggestiveness and lack of restraint. Their special brand of social dancing, accompanied by the syncopated rhythms of their music director, James Reese Europe, and his orchestra, helped to popularize black urban music and paved the way for the dance styles and social life of the 1920s. A film of their lives, ...