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The Castle Walk
Castle Walk Dance History Archives Title     The Castle Walk was originated in New York in 1912 by America's dancing darlings and foremost authority to the dancing public: Vernon (1887-1919) and Irene Castle (1893-1969). The Castles created the dance to try to inspire others to come to their new Castle House (a dance studio) located in New York. By 1913 they would take it to Paris and introduce it at the Cafe de Paris. In their book Modern Dancing, The Castle's refer to the Castle Walk as: "The sliding and poetical Castle Walk."

   The dance walk was very different than the, Two-step and Waltz of the day and was soon to become a favorite by the masses. The Castle walk was an offshoot of the One Step, which both eventually merged together and became one, except the Castle Walk music is slower than the One Step. The Castle Walk eventually merged with the American Tango as well. The Castle Walk was performed in military precision, taking two steps, or one step per beat, never raising the foot from the floor, and using a smooth gliding step. The dancers often walk around in various designs, such as a large figure eight, square or circle, or in the winding fashion of a snake. The principal figures in the Castle Walk are the walk forward, walk backward, turning several times to the right and to the left, going in circles (Ballroom Pivots), and even skipping at times while incidentally varying this with Dips and Hesitation Steps, etc.

   The Castle Walk was really just that, a walk, which could go the entire length of a hall or ballroom, while the Lady danced continuously backwards (which before was taboo, as the men were the ones to go backwards) except for certain patterns.

   The dance basically consists of walking in a circle, square, zigzag, figure eight, and serpentine line of dance, etc. The Arm was under the ladies arm but a little higher than normal during the time and the dance was supposed to have the "I DON'T CARE flair about it while being danced and was not to become difficult in the steps altho the lady was supposed to stay up on her toes the entire time. The dance came with many variations... It was "Quite The Thing" in its time. The Castle Walk replaced the Fish Walk in popularity.

James Reese Europe and Ford Dabney wrote most of the Castles music including the Castle Walk. The Castles supposedly introduced the dance at Louis Martin's in New York in 1912. The Castles worked there quite often.

   The Castle Glide, an offshoot of the Castle Walk was created by Albert Newman around 1914. This was quite a jolly dance and was very easy to execute. Dancers were in closed position.

  • Newman explains:
        (1) "The gentleman walks four steps forward, left foot,
        (2) Right foot,
        (3) Left foot,
        (4) Right foot. Then Chassez (a chasing of one foot by the other) or a glide to the left four times performed as follows:
        (1) Left foot-to side, second position; right foot close up to it, First Position (x).
        (2) Repeat this movement three more times, counting (2) (x) (3) (x) (4); this takes two measures. On the last step there is a half turn of the body to the right. The Chassez movement is then repeated to the right two measures.
        (1) After which turn to the right with five steps of the Castle Walk left foot back,
        (2) Right foot forward,
        (3) Left foot back,
        (4) Right foot forward,
        (5) Left foot back,
        (6) Dip on the right foot back count,
        (7) Rise and transfer the weight forward on the left foot,
        (8) And step forward on right foot on the eighth count. Repeat the entire dance.
    -- Music 2/4 (Ragtime). A trifle slower than the Castle Walk".

      A few "European historians" claim that the Castle Walk was really the Foxtrot (IT DEFINITELY WAS NOT :) and so state that the Foxtrot was really invented by the Castles, rather than Harry Fox. (Since Vernon was English, they try to claim the Foxtrot as an English dance, either way, it was still invented here in the USA as Vernon lived in the states.)

... However, if the Castle Walk was the base for Harry's rendition (it wasn't,) it was Harry who first did the dance and Harry who got the credit and Harry who got it as a namesake. The original Foxtrot done by Mr. Fox as described in 1912, was not even close to the Castle Walk descriptions of the same date. (The video on the left is from "Whirl of Life" and shows the Castlewalk and finishes with the Castle Maxixe.)


Birth Place



Dance Type

New York Vernon Castle The Castles Ragtime
Order "Dances thru time Video" and see and learn some of these fun old dances.

Posters, Lobby Cards etc.

Sheet Music Covers

Related Music Titles

n/a 1914 - The Castle Walk 1911 - Too Much Mustard [MP3] (Macklin)
            1912 - The Castle Walk [MP3 A | MP3 B]
            1913 - Melinda's Wedding Day
            1914 - Castles in Europe [MP3]
            1914 - The Castle House Rag (Europe) [MP3 A | MP3 B]
            1914 - The Syncopated Walk [MP3] (Berlin)
            1915 - Castle Doggy (Europe)
            1983 - LP: Ragtime Cakewalks & Stomps from 1898-1923
            Sans Souci [MP3]
            Castle Innovation Tango [MP3] (Europe)

Night Clubs



Cafe de Paris n/a New York
Castle House   San Francisco
Castle's In The Air        
Louis Martin's (Marten's)            
San Souci            
Video Clips (Po-Up Window)

Films / Movies


Ballets / Stage

Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1915 - Whirl Of Life (Castle Walk & Maxixe) n/a See Castles
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1915 - The Castle Walk Demo reel       Watch Your Step (Song used)
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1916 - Patria      


Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1939 - Story of Vernon and Irene Castle [DVD]       Art Of Dress 1500-1914
Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. How To: Dances thru time Video II [DVD]      
Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. View Library of Congress MPG file      
Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window. Dancetime! Vol. 2: The 20th Century      
Not Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.         $ Art Of Dress 1500-1914

Other Related Dances of the time...

Apache Dance Half & Half (Castle's) Maxixe Slow Drag
Argentine Tango Horsetrot New Glide Waltz Tango
Bunny Hug Heel and Toe Novelette Texas Tommy
Castle One Step Hesitation One Step Turkey Trot
Castle Tango Innovation Peabody Two-Step
Foxtrot Lame Duck Quickstep Whirlwind Waltz
Gaby Glide Lame Waltz Santley Tango  
Grizzly Bear Maurice Walk    

Dancers, Choreographers etc.


Albert Newman Ned Wayburn Mrs. Stuyvesant Fish
Arthur Murray Vernon & Irene Castle  
Caroline Walker    

Books, Magazine Articles on the dance...



Date Published


$ Modern Dancing Castle, Vernon & Irene 1914 Harper & Brothers
The Modern Dances Caroline Walker 1914 Saul Brothers
$ My Husband Irene Castle (Foote) 1979 DaCapo Press
$ Castles in the Air Irene Castle (Foote) 1980 DaCapo Press

Musicians / Bands


Ford Dabney 8/9/1913 - Indianapolis Star (Castle walk)
James Reese Europe (Europe Society Orchestra) 11/9/1913 - Syracuse Herald (Castle Walk Description)
  1/13/1914 - Kansas City Star (Vernon does not Straighten legs)
  1/29/1914 - Lima Daily News (Castle Walk By Vernon)
    4/1/1914 - Fort Wayne Sentinel (Castle Walk Ban)
    1/5/1919 - Syracuse Herald (Irene Tells Castle Walk History)
    1/30/1915 - Daily Gleaner - (Newest Dances Described)

Misc. Research Words that may be related ... to help your searches

Irene Foote Whirl Of Life n/a -
Air Force        

Basic Step: ...

  • Paraphrased from Modern Dancing:
  • 1) Dancers stand directly in front of each other, The followers right hand in the leaders left.
    The leaders right hand should be a little above the followers waist line, ladies left hand on his
    right shoulder.
  • 2) The leader usually starts forward on his left foot and the follower backward on her right foot.
  • 3) Walking in time to the music, taking a single step to each beat (very smoothly), raise yourself up
    on your toes, keeping your legs a trifle stiff and breeze along happily and easily.
  • 4) You can also move in a circle, then make the circle smaller and smaller. Its silly, but that's its
  • Note: this was basically the same walk as the one step.