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The Dancer from the Dance

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  4,322 Ratings  ·  222 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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Jul 04, 2008 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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic, ebook, gay, fiction
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 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
May 31, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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

"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
Mia Tryst
May 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Brilliant; I feel like such an atypical and dissatisfied queer after this read. Truly a stunning look into queer life.
Liam Elliot
Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I used to have this history teacher. He would tell us stories from his younger days, and he would get to certain parts of his story and stumble. It would be a part that involved sex or drugs and he would edit around it so he wouldn't get fired, but with a nod and wink that still let you know which naughty bits were being PG-13'd out so we'd still understand.

He'd finish his pared down tale of debauchery and just-barely-appropriate-for-high-school-ears adventures, and when we were looking at him l
Aug 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's ... ok. The best thing about this book to me is the writing and the atmosphere the author manages to sketch through it. He really does paint a clear picture of NYC in the 70s for these men and of their lives. However, in terms of plot, there really isn't any. It's more of a snapshot of their lives and the thoughts and feelings that go with them.

The main characters are Sutherland and Malone, but it's narrated by a rather anonymous (all knowing?) person of whom we learn little except that he
Jessica Sullivan
"What lover could possibly have matched what Malone had stored up in his imagination?"

I read somewhere that Edmund White compared Dancer from the Dance to The Great Gatsby, and it really is an apt comparison in so many ways.

The setting places us in the midst of New York's emerging gay scene in the 1970s, and Malone is our Gatsby. Fewer than 20 pages in we are told what kind of story this will be: it's about "doomed queens," about "why life is sad," and "what people do for love—gay or not."

Like T
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
Jan 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Don Bradshaw
Sep 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comedy, gay-romance
Another gay lit. classic that shouldn't be passed up.
Alex Stargazer
Mar 21, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  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 cur

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
Jan 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
George Ilsley
May 20, 2011 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.
Anthony McGill
Mar 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Classic gay novel from 1978. Ranks with me as one of the all time great gay-themed novels. The beautiful Malone and his frenzied search for love in the gay world, pre AIDS, from midnight ventures into the parks of Greenwich Village, to drug-infested discos and promiscuous gay bathhouses and onto Fire Island orgies in this superbly written and realized first novel by the talented Andrew Holleran.
Proud owner of a William Morrow first edition.
Mar 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gay
Reading the end of this book while listening to Jeff Buckely's "I Know It's Over" was a really bad idea.
Mike Clarke
This face seats five: Or looking for love in all the wrong places. Andrew Holleran's pre-AIDS New York City of the Everard baths, gropings in the greenery of Battery Park,
and endless drug-fuelled summers on Fire Island is as archaic as a fur-lined posing pouch and a copy of Health & Efficiency, but it was made that way, even in 1978. Brief halcyon days that can never come again, even with the advent of PreP since we're all in a post-Grindr era and sex will never be the same. Do I miss it? I'
Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very well written book about early gay male culture in New York City. While it allows us to voyeur a lifestyle unfamiliar to most of us, it is also much more than that; an exploration of friendship and love - of loneliness and alienation. Excellent characterization. Highly recommended.
Kurien Kalarickal
Sad and poignant. But gets repetitive after a while. It's like one of those nights when you're out with all your gay buddies and the conversations just keep going on endlessly when you just want to gtfo and sleep
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great novel.
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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.
More about Andrew Holleran

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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.” 18 likes
“They faced each other at opposite ends of an illusion.” 13 likes
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