The Dancer from the Dance
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The Dancer from the Dance

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  2,602 ratings  ·  117 reviews

One of the most important works of gay literature, this haunting, brilliant novel is a seriocomic remembrance of things past — and still poignantly present. It depicts the adventures of Malone, a beautiful young man searching for love amid New York's emerging gay scene. From Manhattan's Everard Baths and after-hours discos to Fire Island's deserted parks and lavish orgies,

Paperback, 1 page
Published October 1st 1986 by Plume (first published May 1st 1977)
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I first read "Dancer From The Dance" long, long ago, in my days at New Haven. Someone at the old Atticus Books recommended it as "the gay Gatsby". It is that, very much so: a novel of doomed romanticism, memory and all its traps, and dreams of new identity. It's set in the lost NYC of the early/mid-'70s, in the gay club world that's lost almost recall. That world was alien to me, but I shared the clubland belief in the redemptive power of dance and the enchantments of beauty (female beauty, for...more
A beautiful & sad book all about Corinthinians 13:11. "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things."

In this case, the childish things are whoring it up in post-Stonewall, pre-AIDS NYC, a fun time if ever there was one. The idolatry of youth & beauty leave little option for the adult man: either become the old guy at the club, leave Manhattan, or go out in a blaze of glory & the characters o...more
Holleran's debut is a study in ambivalence; but, then, all good satires are. With luxuriant, effortless prose Holleran takes us through the world of the gay circuit circa the 1970s. Here is a world built upon the pretense of fleeting beauty, saturnine lovers and the mass delusion that dancing possesses a redemptive power, and peopled by those legendary archetypes: The sanguine queen, here embodied by the droll Sutherland, and the hopeless romantic turned rentboy, Malone. This is no scathing crit...more
I'd heard about this book forever and finally got around to reading it. I waffled between liking it and appreciating it as I was reading it. The writing is unique and effective. But I felt like I was reading the same twenty pages over and over and over again. Which is, ultimately, the point. It's indulgent but the book is about indulgence. It's frustating but the book is about frustration. Sometimes I'd get swept away by it and other times left completely cold. So it worked. A bold way to tell a...more
Kevin Lawrence
A narcissist meets a solipsist and thus is born a gay classic? Ugh. There were moments when a lustful impulse is rendered convincingly, but I really couldn't care very much for these characters. Maybe it's a generational thing. Found the "friendship" between Malone and Sutherland unlikely -- unless the financial bond between them had been more fleshed out. Not a book I'd recommend to a young gay man looking for literary solace/guidance/whatever-it-is-we-read-for.
An old boyfriend (from 1972!) sought me out a few weeks ago-after 40 years and sent this book as a gift-it's one of his favorites-I read it many years ago. I enjoyed reading it again. Stephen-my friend- relates strongly to it for the references to dancing, which apparently he really got into after we parted company, and I see from the reviews that others also pick up on that link.
I did not relate so strongly to that. There are also quite a lot of reviewers who find the character of "Malone" 'ro...more
The title of this book was for some time what stopped me from reading it, until I finally had it in my hands and found out that it had a totally different meaning to the one I had attributed to it before. "Dancer from the Dance" is a quote from the very end of William Butler Yeats' poem "Among School Children":

Labour is blossoming or dancing where
The body is not bruised to pleasure soul.
Nor beauty born out of its own despair,
Nor blear-eyed wisdom out of midnight oil.
O chestnut-tree, great-
I don't really know how to rate this novel: parts of me found it difficult to read and connect to, other parts found it poetic and compelling. I think the novel holds both a lot of insight and much sadness, especially about lives lived around beauty, physical beauty to be precise.

The novel is candid and humorous, but all in all left me feeling like there is so much more to life than the characters explored. This is not a story I can't really identify with on an emotional level, oddly enough muc...more
first off--it's been forever since i've read a novel. second--it took me no time at all to understand that this was "literature" and not some trashy recounting of promiscuous sex, drugs, and fire island. third--i was blown away with this book. i couldn't help thinking after reading it. the characters were exquisitely developed, and the prose was surprisingly fluid. the characters, and goings-on of the book was raw. i found myself identifying with aspects of all the characters and scenes. after r...more
Mia Tryst
I remember when I first picked up this book in Santa Barbara, turned the first page I couldn't put it down. The feeling was one of a different kind sexual awakening, like I had somehow missed a whole culture of exciting men. I know that I became obsessed with books about gay men thereafter. But now, for the life of me I can't remember a thing about the book except it was beautiful, electrifying, luminous and poetic.
Alex Stargazer
Apr 10, 2014 Alex Stargazer rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Gluttons for punishment
Shelves: lgbt, unusual

Sad, aimless literature.

Okay. So: Dancer from the Dance, a fairly well known LGBT novel with some rather pompous praise. What’s it really like?

The story follows the life of Malone: a man from an upper-class background, initially not realising he’s gay, but eventually coming to accept it. Thereafter, he becomes incredibly enamoured with a Puerto Rican man; however, their relationship sours and they become enemies.

Malone then becomes extremely promiscous, sleeping with everyone—and forming a curi

Reading the end of this book while listening to Jeff Buckely's "I Know It's Over" was a really bad idea.
Don Bradshaw
Another gay lit. classic that shouldn't be passed up.
Am I allowed to dislike this book?
Matthew Gallaway
This novel is probably my favorite American novel from the post-war period. I would give it fifty stars if I could. I just re-read it because it's been a few years and as sometimes happens, I was reduced to shock and tears that some book-lover I was talking to hadn't even heard of it, which led me to ask if it still lived up to my own hype. In short, it definitely does. The language is beautiful, ornate, and erudite, but also raunchy and hilarious and witty (in the old British tradition) as Holl...more
This is one of my favorite novels. I know it's an oft-made comparison for any book revolving around a sensitive younger male, but it's definitely a gay Gatsby, except that, on top of a failed American dream, you also have the failed homosexual dream — to live fast and love. Just like Gatsby, this novel's prose is incredibly lyrical, but varies enough to propel the story, e.g. it lapses into long lists at times (perhaps mirroring the effects of the character's speed use). Malone becomes engrossed...more

I've seen this book described as being a "gay The Great Gatsby" and I must say that's actually a fairly accurate description in my opinion.

This book can be summed up in just a couple of words: partying, dancing, drugs, sex, love, loneliness, death. I've wanted to read something that portrays the gay party scene of New York before AIDS hit, and I guess this book was what I was looking for.

I personally liked Malone more than Sutherland. It was something about him that was so incredibly tragic....more
Magnificent. I'll get the grumbles out first so I can get to gushing, but all the grumbles come with caveats. The book is, perhaps, not well-plotted. It's more meditative, and it doesn't so much matter what happens in the moment as how it builds to a larger arc and commentary on a subset of male, gay culture. I'm also not sure about the framing devices. That's right, plural. At first it made entering the story challenging, but by the end I was completely sold and understood why it's necessary an...more
John Rimbaud
Love, love will tear us apart again and so sung Joy Divison and in this novel Malone is ripped to pieces. Set in the 1970's Manhattan, Dance From The Dance is a rueful testament of the times in the post-Stonewall gay community. Tha main character Malone leaves his cookie-cutter middle upper class WASPish life to become a full time denizen in New York's gay world. It is there that he teams up with Sutherland, the necessary Queen who helps him on his futile, yet honorable, journey to seek love. Af...more
J.W. Horton
This book is so beautiful it hurts. It could well have been subtitled "The Gay Gatsby," because it is in effect something of a gay take on Fitzgerald's American classic. The novel centers on a character named Malone, who is looking for love. Narrated in epistolary fashion by Malone's friends and observers, it tells Malone's tale in New York City and Fire Island, just prior to the start of the AIDS epidemic.
George Ilsley
A book I've read several times, although not lately. At one point in my life, when I was supposed to be studying for an exam, I would re-read this book instead. Now, I'm scared to read it again, in case it no longer lives up to what I remember.

When I first purchased this book, at what was then called a "bookstore" (yes, I am dating myself), the young female clerk was kind of flirty, and then when she took a look at the book I was buying, became all flustered and awkward. And no longer friendly....more
Adam Dunn
A well written book, hauntingly melodic at times, yet ultimately short on plot.
The book is timeless is a way, describing the feeling all gay men have when they first come to the city:
“…especially the young ones, come into the canyon for the first time, quiet as deer, some of them, coming to your hand for salt: their dark eyes wide and gleaming with the wonder and the fear we had all felt at seeing for the first time life as our dreams had always imagined it… at seeing so many people with whom th...more
Jonathan Yu
As I read this book, I often had to remind myself that this novel was written more than 30 years ago. While I have no reference for what the gay experience was actually like in 1970s New York City, (too) many descriptions from the novel still ring true today. I never use the highlight function on my reader, but I used it way too often while reading this book.
Huw Collingbourne
Thank goodness that's over! This is one of the most turgid novels I've read in quite a while. Nothing much happens and it takes a very long time to do so. The cover quotes a review that claims this is "the best gay novel written by anyone of our generation." I beg to differ. If you want a great gay novelist, try John Rechy. I suppose I was expecting Holleran to be a writer of Rechy's calibre. I was sadly disappointed. Whereas Rechy's writing is almost clinically detached, Holleran goes in for se...more
Glenn Sumi
Andrew Holleran's groundbreaking 1978 novel is a lyrical, funny and elegiac book about a certain segment of gay life in mid-to-late 70s New York City.

The modern reader will appreciate the glimpse into post-Stonewall, pre-AIDS urban gay life, with its discos, tea dances and all-night parties. Some behaviour and attitudes have obviously changed, but the restless pursuit of the newest in fashion or fad and the yearning after beauty and romance feels universal.

Holleran's characters – some outrageous...more
Dan Saniski
Probably my favorite book. It both lovingly and tragically portrays the lives of queer men living the all-gays-all-the-time life. The descriptions of the music and people are so detailed and so lush that you can almost imagine being in the very real places it describes. That's probably one of the more interesting facets of Dancer: although the plot and characters are fictional, the places, music, clothing, and vibes are all accurate. The clubs they went to really existed and they actually played...more
This is a beautifully-written novel about gay life in Manhattan in the decadent years. About the "pleasure-seekers, so bent on pleasure that they were driving right through Happiness" on their way to Fire Island as the season was ending. The story of Malone's descent is told with believable details and facets of the fabulous life--dancing and pretending that everything is brilliant and gay. With vivid imagery, lush language, and captivating depiction the gay men searching for love and acceptance...more
If I wanted to cut to the chase I would just rate this book with a dramatic sigh. But I won't, and neither will this book.

Holleran makes some odd narrative choices with this one. The tale is bookended by letters going back and forth between two witnesses to life in New York, in the 70's, through the lens of the homosexual community. The letters outline a manuscript being sent from one person to the other, and then that manuscript begins in the first person, without introducing you to that person...more
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Jun 14, 2012 Rachel rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
To start with, I had this book on my to-read shelf for at least 15 years (I cannot remember when I bought it within a 5 year period.) I carried it over the course of several moves, one of which was to another country. At some point, I realized it was the oldest book on the to-read shelf. I decided that now really was the time to read it or get rid of it.

I will be keeping this book for the next 15 years. It is as the reviews claim: beautifully written, evocative, and hilarious. I laughed on the t...more
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Andrew Holleran is the pseudonym of Eric Garber, a novelist, essayist, and short story writer. He is a prominent novelist of post-Stonewall gay literature. He was a member of The Violet Quill, a gay writer's group that met briefly from 1980-81.
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“The greatest drug of all, my dear, was not one of those pills in so many colors that you took over the years, was not the opium, the hash you smoked in houses at the beach, or the speed or smack you shot up in Sutherland's apartment, no, it wasn't any of these. It was the city, darling, it was the city, the city itself. And do you see why I had to leave? As Santayana said, dear, artists are unhappy because they are not interested in happiness; they live for beauty. God, was that steaming, loathsome city beautiful!!! And why finally no human lover was possible, because I was in love with all men, with the city itself.” 7 likes
“They faced each other at opposite ends of an illusion.” 5 likes
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