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Dancer from the Dance
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Dancer from the Dance

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  3,052 ratings  ·  144 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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Maurice by E.M. ForsterBrokeback Mountain by Annie ProulxThe Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeGiovanni's Room by James BaldwinTales of the City by Armistead Maupin
Best Gay Fiction
33rd out of 1,136 books — 1,458 voters
Middlesex by Jeffrey EugenidesThe Color Purple by Alice WalkerTipping the Velvet by Sarah WatersMaurice by E.M. ForsterTales of the City by Armistead Maupin
Best LGBTQIA literature
99th out of 893 books — 884 voters

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Community Reviews

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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
Jason Huffman-black
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.
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 fashion or fad and the yearning after beauty and romance feels universal.

Holleran's characters – some outrageously
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
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
Am I allowed to dislike this book?
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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-
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
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
Alex Stargazer
Apr 10, 2014 Alex Stargazer rated it 3 of 5 stars
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 cur

Apr 06, 2013 Dana rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: gay
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.
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.
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
Jānis Lībeks
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.
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.
Joseph Nicolello
I care not what thou do in the bedroom: Ridiculous purple prose. Like Fitzgerald and Capote got married, adopted a son, and decades down the line the son suffered severe brain damage from being raised by two men, and wrote a ridiculously unrealistic 'Portrayal of a place and time' from rehab. Also, the title sucks.
Ensoleillé Rimbaud
We live, after all, in perilous times of complete philosophic sterility, we live in a rude and dangerous time in which there are no values to speak to and one can cling to only concrete things---such as cock.
Was mal wieder der Beweis Für die Macht von Worten ist. Ich Hab mich immer so vor dem Buch gedrückt weil Ich Angst hatte, Das es Mir aufzeigt was ich verpasse. Aber es tut genau Das Gegenteil! Es nimmt Mir alle Angst vor diesem Gedanken, es nimmt mich an der Hand und zeigt Mir all Die dunklen Dreckigen Orte an denen Ich Hätte landen können Wenn Alles Ein bisschen anders gelaufen Wäre, es schaut in meinen Kopf und aus Den wirren Gedanken formt es Wörter Die Ich nicht in der Lage war zu finden und ...more
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.
I have mixed feelings about this book. Being hailed as one of the best gay novels of all time, it indeed lived up to my expectations in terms of the depiction of gay lives in New York. And I agree with the comparison of this book to "The Great Gatsby" too - the saddest part is, while "Gatsby" depicted lives in the 1920s, which is far away from the 21st century, the 70s gay scene in "Dancer from the Dance" is still happening at this very moment. It's been almost 40 years, and the gay scene doesn' ...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
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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.” 9 likes
“They faced each other at opposite ends of an illusion.” 7 likes
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