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Dancer from the Dance
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Dancer from the Dance

3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  3,759 Ratings  ·  189 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 ...more
Paperback, 250 pages
Published December 18th 2001 by Harper Perennial (first published May 1st 1977)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jul 04, 2008 DoctorM rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lavender-hip
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
Jason Bradley
Feb 22, 2014 Jason Bradley rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook, classic, fiction, gay
This was a great look at the 70s gay community. It felt a little like a trip down memory lane and since I wasn't there, I didn't get all the inside comments.
Jan 31, 2008 Mark rated it liked it
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
Glenn Sumi
Jun 16, 2014 Glenn Sumi rated it really liked it
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 fashion or fad and the yearning after beauty and romance feels universal.

Holleran's characters – some outrageously
Jul 22, 2011 Joseph rated it it was amazing
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
Kevin Lawrence
Nov 05, 2013 Kevin Lawrence rated it it was ok
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.
Deanna Against Censorship
None of all the bonds between homosexual friends, now was greater than that between the friends who danced together. The friend you danced with, when you had no lover, was the most important person in your life; and for people who went without lovers for years, that was all they had. It was a continuing bond and that is what Malone and Sutherland were for years, starting that fall: two friends who danced with one another.

There were things I appreciated about this book. The writing was good. The
Mia Tryst
May 28, 2010 Mia Tryst rated it it was amazing
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 of 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. On that note, the title is borrowed from a line in the poem, "Among School Ch ...more
Mar 31, 2008 Meridith rated it really liked it
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
Aug 14, 2014 Chase rated it it was amazing
Brilliant; I feel like such an atypical and dissatisfied queer after this read. Truly a stunning look into queer life.
May 31, 2009 Scott rated it it was ok
Am I allowed to dislike this book?

"Yes, that is all that's left when love has gone. Dancing."

There are books I don't care if I like it or not. But there are books that I hope a lot to love when I pick them up. Dancer from the Dance is one of those books I wanted desperately to love. It is why I didn't give up, even when I started to struggle through the story.

I'm glad I finished it, but I have to admit- unfortunately- that I didn't completely get it.
And it is why I have to say that "one of the most important works of gay l
Jan 13, 2009 Dan rated it it was amazing
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
Matthew Gallaway
Sep 16, 2012 Matthew Gallaway rated it it was amazing
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
Beautiful writing and some of it is really funny and witty. Highly recommended to the fan of LGBTQ literature. This really isn't politically correct (it didn't exist yet) and parts of this are a little depressing but it is about New York of a certain time. A time before AIDS started wiping people out at an alarming rate. A time before safe sex was necessary. A time before people realized maybe they shouldn't take so many drugs etc. A time of youth. A time when the world was okay as long as you w ...more
Don Bradshaw
Sep 06, 2010 Don Bradshaw rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gay-romance, comedy
Another gay lit. classic that shouldn't be passed up.
Alex Stargazer
Mar 21, 2014 Alex Stargazer rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Gluttons for punishment
Shelves: unusual, lgbt

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 cur

Jan 03, 2014 Alan rated it it was amazing
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
John Rimbaud
Nov 23, 2011 John Rimbaud rated it liked it
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
Jan 08, 2012 Andune rated it really liked it
Shelves: q-paperback
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
Mar 30, 2013 Dana rated it really liked it
Shelves: gay
Reading the end of this book while listening to Jeff Buckely's "I Know It's Over" was a really bad idea.
Apr 27, 2013 Giedre rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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-
Jun 16, 2011 Kevin rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 14, 2011 Lee rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 10, 2012 ida rated it really liked it

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.
Apr 14, 2015 Chris rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, lgbt
TL;DR: If you are queer, read this damn book at least once.

LONG VERSION: I've read this book several times now, as it is obviously a favorite of mine, and with each reading I'm always astounded that Holleran hit such clarity with his first novel. It is rather intimidating as a first novel, seeing as it is often placed at or near the top of "best LGBT fiction" lists - although that in itself is a bit of a disservice, because it is one of the best novels I've stumbled across in general.

Elegant in
Jul 03, 2013 Jim rated it it was amazing
This book about gay culture and strata in the big city was not only highly entertaining for me, but also highly instructional! A primer on how gay society was/is structured, about out own little demimonde, our focus on youth and its rules and expectations. As a young gay man in the Midwest, it presented life on the coasts as seductive and at the same time dangerous. One wanted to be a part of it, one wanted to be his hot hero Malone, yet only if it were going to be the good parts, hopefully thos ...more
George Ilsley
May 20, 2011 George Ilsley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, gay, re-read
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.
J.W. Horton
Feb 06, 2014 J.W. Horton rated it it was amazing
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.
Jānis Lībeks
May 30, 2015 Jānis Lībeks rated it it was amazing
The story of two colourful characters in gay New York of the 70s. I kept thinking about Faggots, which deals with such a similar timeframe, but fails to capture that which "Dancer from the Dance" is so successful at - the compassionate critique of gay life. Where Kramer fumed and hated every single character he had written, Holleran sees them for the humans they are.
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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.” 14 likes
“They faced each other at opposite ends of an illusion.” 11 likes
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