Shall We Dance? – the true story of the couple who taught the world to dance – written by Douglas Thompson.
With the current interest in ballroom dancing inspired by “Strictly” on our televisions and watched by millions, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the book published earlier this month.
The book tells the story of Vernon and Irene Castle who took the world by storm. They were superstars of their day: played by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in a Hollywood movie in 1939 and recently referred to in Downton Abbey.
Vernon and Irene Castle had the world at their feet and together they beat the censors and made vibrant passionate dancing acceptable to all. They broke the rules, toured with black musicians, and shook up the Charleston-dancing Gatsby generation, enchanting London, Paris and New York with their dizzying terpsichorean magic.
Their whirlwind story has a tragic end when at the height of their fame, Vernon enlisted as a fighter pilot and although he survived enemy action and won the Croix de Guerre, he was killed in a plane accident while training American pilots.
The book takes us through all the action and gives a fascinating insight to the excitement of the new dance crazes. Theirs was an innovative partnership that helped the world to enjoy dance with infectious enthusiasm. With a following of fans that copied their moves and even Irene’s hairstyle they were the trend setters of their day.
The book brings the story back to life for the first time and includes rate and beautiful photos and with a foreword by Craig Revel Horwood this book is a must for all dance fans and those who are spellbound by the age of the Great Gatsby. F Scott Fitzgerald mentioned Vernon and Irene in several of his books and Irene was a notable flapper of the Jazz age.
But this is not just a book about dancing and history it is also a true love story and I defy you not to have a lump in your throat when you get to the end of Part III.
Shall we Dance? is published in hardback by John Blake Publishing Ltd at £17.99