Dance Dance Dance (novel)

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Dance Dance Dance
Dancedancedancecover.jpg
First edition (Japanese)
AuthorHaruki Murakami
Original titleダンス・ダンス・ダンス
Dansu Dansu Dansu
TranslatorAlfred Birnbaum
CountryJapan
LanguageJapanese
PublishedJanuary 1994 (Kodansha International) (JPN)
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages393 pp
ISBN978-0099448761
OCLC24
895.6/35 20
LC ClassPL856613 1994
Preceded byA Wild Sheep Chase 

Dance Dance Dance (ダンス・ダンス・ダンス, Dansu Dansu Dansu) is the sixth novel by Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. First published in 1988, it was translated into English by Alfred Birnbaum in 1994. The book is a sequel to Murakami's novel A Wild Sheep Chase. In 2001, Murakami said that writing Dance Dance Dance had been a healing act after his unexpected fame following the publication of Norwegian Wood and that, because of this, he had enjoyed writing Dance more than any other book.[1]

Plot summary[edit]

It is four years passed when the narrator hunted after the elusive sheep and his friend, The Rat. The Dolphin Hotel and missing girlfriend with perfect ears is still on his mind.

The narrator recounts how for six straight months, following A Wild Sheep Chase, he did no work and had little social contact of any kind; actively avoiding people. The days were a mix of drinking, sleeping, cooking himself meals and only going outside his apartment to stores for the most minimal of goods before returning home again, usually at night. No newspaper or television. The narrator's former business partner was now doing well in his new business venture. And the narrator's ex-wife was now happily remarried. Not to the man she had left the narrator for in A Wild Sheep Chase, but a new man who wanted a family.

The narrator then began working again, getting a strong foothold into copywriting. Gradually growing in demand until he was enjoying a fair amount of economic success. His savings account swell, business demand increases astronomically due to his efficiency, and he buys a new car. The narrator is even able to date again. Finding limited success for a few months with another woman until she abruptly ends the relationship (no reason is stated).

Realizing that he is lonely and in need of closure with the hotel and former flame, the narrator cancels his appointments and assignments for the next month and heads to Hokkaido again. After a small assignment, he checks into the Dolphin Hotel again, which has gone through a large amount of upgrades in the years since his visit, serious money being spent to give it a more presentable appearance. It is now multiple stories tall, deck out with a lounge for both clients and staff, as well as new, more formal staff. The management is welcoming and friendly, but their mood becomes dodgy when the narrator asks questions about the previous owner. Settling into his room, he notices the upgrade and changes to the town as well, which seemed to have come into new money.

Fighting off boredom a short time into his stay, the narrator chooses to enter a cafe in the hotel, reading Jack London and having coffee. An attractive staff member with glasses who was visibly disturbed by his inquiries the previous days approaches him under the guise of talking about car prices and asks if they could go somewhere to talk. When they meet up for dinner, the attractive hotelier with glasses informs the narrator that she had a disturbing experience at the hotel on the last New Years Day. Misplacing her book, she advanced towards the employee lounge on the 16th floor. However, the elevator shutdown. Finding herself walking in darkness that wasn't possible, on a hard floor that couldn't have been that of the hotel's, she traveled cautiously and terrified until she saw the dim aura of candlelight. It was then that she heard footsteps, heavy footsteps coming towards her, footsteps that didn't sound human. She fled in desperation before ending up in the once again lit elevator and heading to the lounge. The waiting manager and staff saw her terrified and searched every inch of the floor, finding nothing. However, once she recounted the events, in the privacy of her manager's office, the manager told her to keep the matter under-wraps and not to speak of it again, signaling that this was possibly not the first occurrence. The hotelier with glasses only brought it to the narrator's attention due to him inquiring about the matter earlier. Afterwards, they drink, and the narrator passes on a chance to sleep with the woman.

The narrator begins his own research into the hotel, bound by his own curiosity and the hotelier's story. It turns out that there was an article written by a journalist a couple of years prior that identified the hotel as one of the holdings and acquired properties of multiple paper companies that were liquidated and resold over and over for ever-increasing amounts of cash. The commonality being a single company that acquired them and most likely set them up from the start; B Industries. This, in turn was a subsidiary company of A Incorporated, which held ties to local business, political and even underworld figures. The Dolphin Hotel was one of many acquired properties in the area, designed to be the first in a new chain of hotels.

For further information, the narrator contacts his old business partner, who in turn asks a contact for more about the Dolphin Hotel in an effort to know what happened to the previous owner. The narrator's former business partner calls later to inform him that the hotel was one of the last hold-outs that the business interests obtained; having to send in Yakuza henchmen to threaten and intimidate the owner; who only relinquished if the hotel kept its name.

The next day the narrator struggles with boredom, reading the newspaper and watching the snow falling outside. Unsuccessfully, he tries to convince the receptionist with glasses to have dinner with him, but she has work and swim practice. So the narrator drinks alone in the lounge. Taking the elevator to his floor, he thinks about an old classmate-turned-actor of his that was charming, dashing and popular. And then makes and intricate daydream of his junior high classmate, Gotunda, now a famous actor, staring in a Egyptian swimming club. The dream then turns sexual, with celebrities kissing the classmate, then the glasses-wearing hotelier being in bed with him, then his old girlfriend with perfect ears, Kiki.

It is then that the music in the elevator stops. Complete darkness is in the elevator. No light. The narrator remembers the receptionist with glasses' story. He makes his way in the pitch blackness, feeling his way through what appears to be a hallway until hearing inhuman footsteps and encountering The Sheep Man in a dimly lit room, the notes, newspapers and aged books of the Sheep Professor illuminated on the floor. The Sheep Man gives cryptic explanations to the darkness that the narrator finds himself. Explaining that The Sheep Man is, in fact a part of the Sheep Men, a species that was driven into the darkness a long time ago; and they too, have no idea of the origins or facts of the place where he and the narrator now found themselves. The Sheep Man announces that the reality exists both because of and for the narrator. The previous owner of the hotel insisted on the name staying the same for the narrator. The Sheep Man reveals that the narrator is tied to the pitch-black reality and that the narrator must "keep dancing while the music still plays". The Sheep Men would be there to help where they could.

The darkness ends and the narrator is in the elevator again. Lights and music are on as if they never stopped. The narrator returns to his room and sleeps. He wakes up the next morning having trouble wrapping his mind around the encounter. He bathes repeatedly, eats and naps well into the afternoon.

The next day follows with more boredom and reflection, coming to grips with what he encountered at the hotel. The narrator sees a movie staring Gotunda just to pass the time. However, upon seeing the film, a sex scene halfway into the movie stuns the narrator, as it is, indeed, Kiki and a character played by Gotunda, having sex; revealing that all may be connected.

The narrator, needing to get back to his life in Tokyo and wanting some distance from the hotel, checks out. The receptionist with glasses asks him to accompany/chaperone a 13-year-old girl, Yuki, with him on the same plane and then get her to her home, as her photographer mother abandoned her at the hotel to go on another photoshoot in an exotic location. They land and the narrator drives her home in his car.

After the narrator arrives back to his own place, Yuki calls the narrator on his phone. Revealing that she had also seen the Sheep Man.

The next day, the narrator manages to get in contact with Gotunda, who seems eager to catch up and open about meeting with him. They go out to dinner where Gotunda talks about his life, including a recent painful divorce, frequent outings with escorts and how he sometimes resents the actor's lifestyle. Gotunda also reveals several details about Kiki once asked by the narrator. That he met Kiki through an escort service, that he gave her a shot at film work, that she never collected her pay from the scene, that he and her had slept together (in real life, as well as on-screen), mainly in threesomes and then she disappeared some time ago without a word.

Gotunda and the narrator go to Gotunda's home where they drink, listen to music and Gotunda suggests that they call some escorts for some fun, mentioning that there is a business that allows him to right off expenses for escorts as a gift and entertainment expense. He also suggests receiving an escort that knew Kiki. Two escorts arrive soon after and they all drink and listen to music before Gotunda goes off to his bedroom with one, leaving the narrator with the other escort who knew Kiki, named May. After sex, May reveals that Kiki left the escort business about a month prior and disappeared without a trace. The narrator gives her his business card in case she finds out anything new about Kiki. Gotunda then drives him home.

The narrator makes plans to meet Yuki in order to learn what she knows about the Sheep Man. Not long after, two police officers (called Fisher and Bookish respectively) pick him up and take him to the police station to question him about his whereabouts the previous night. At the station the police inform the narrator that there has been a murder last night. They show him photographs of the victim, and it is revealed to be May. She was strangled to death at a hotel with stockings. The narrator's business card was found in her wallet.

The narrator answers question after question over the course of over twenty hours, before the police release him. While being questioned, he denies knowing May, keeping in mind that revealing the truth would harm Gotanda's career. It is later revealed Yuki's father, Harumi Makimura (an amalgam of the letters in the author's name) that had an influence in helping the narrator be released.

Glad to be released, the narrator meets with Yuki. She reveals elements of clairvoyance/premonition in her life, that she hasn't been to school for almost a year due to bullying and has an alienated relationship with her parents. She never encountered the Sheep Man, but knows about him through her abilities, picking up on energy waves, "like making an image through squiggly waves of a television" The narrator walks with Yuki along a beach to her father's house. Harumi Makimura is a famous novelist that lives with a 20-year-old attaché (and, as later revealed, lover). Harumi attempts to the pay the narrator to regularly spend time with Yuki everyday, however the narrator states that he will keep their relationship platonic and leaves.

The Narrator moves next to inform Gotanda of May's passing, picking him up in his car and driving him to his next acting job. Along the way, Gotanda tells the Narrator that he is in heavy debt.

The Narrator is then invited to accompany Yuki to Hawaii for a week by Harumi and is given access to an expense account to make a pleasant vacation there. Yuki and he lay out by the waves before visiting Yuki's mother, Ame's home along the beach. There, the pair meet Dick North, a pleasant, one-armed poet and US Marine Corps vet who lost his arm in Vietnam. He is Ame's lover, having lived in Japan for over 10 years before relocating to Hawaii, being married to another woman. Next, Ame enters and expresses thanks to the Narrator for being a good influence on Yuki, stating she would like to do the same. Yuki and the Narrator leave afterwards, Yuki crying over her broken family and absent, bohemian mother. The narrator and her retire to their hotel room and for a couple more days surf and lay out by the beach.

One night, an attractive, Southeast Asian prostitute named June knocks on the Narrator's door, being sent by Makimura and paid to spend up to three nights with the Narrator. They spend the night together and June leaves the number of her call service with the Narrator before she leaves. Yuki's gift allows her to see, much to her discomfort, that the Narrator spent the night with someone.

A day later, the Narrator is driving Yuki to see ET: The Extraterrestrial, when Yuki touches his forehead and he is surprised to see Kiki walking by. Darting after her, he calls out to her and follows Kiki into a seemingly abandoned building. She boarded an elevator to what he figures out to be the 8th floor, he bolts up the stairs. The Narrator enters a floor of near darkness, finding little before light begins to shine upon five skeletons in a bedroom and then a table in the middle of a room, a piece of paper with a number on it lay on top. The Narrator grabs it and heads back to the car. Yuki's sense allowed her to know that he had experienced something just then. The Narrator tells Yuki that he will need to head back to Tokyo. That night, following a hunch, he holds the slip of paper that he found to the number that June had given him. Both identical.

The Narrator tells Yuki that he needs to head back to Japan to make sense of his revelation. Bringing Yuki to her mother and Dick, the Narrator flies back home. He goes to see Makimura and they talk about him sending June. The Narrator asks if it is possible to reach out to the service and get more information. Makimura tells him that the club is exclusive to its clientele and that even Makimura would have trouble finding out more than their service number. Then Makimura hands him a 300,000 yen check for his Hawaiian expenses and the Narrator leaves.

Gotanda and the Narrator hang out together, enjoying a night hanging out to 60s music, dinner and a few drinks. While together, Gotanda describes how he still misses his ex-wife and is still sleeping with her despite the bitter divorce. He also describes being in debt and laments his fame. Gotanda asks if he can borrow the Narrator's car and he gives the Narrator the keys to his wealthier Maserati in the meantime. The Narrator works on his relationship with Yumiyoshi (the cute receptionist with glasses from the dolphin hotel) by calling her more often.

Yuki, Ame and Dick return from Hawaii. Yuki is bored The Narrator picks up Yuki and takes her for a ride in the car. However, Yuki becomes increasingly disturbed during their ride, saying that there is a dark aura about the car and to never drive around in it again.

Dick North dies by being struck by a car while shopping for groceries. Ame and Yuki are depressed. The Narrator brings his belongings to his wife. While at a home goods store, Bookish meets the Narrator and they meet for coffee. Bookish tells the Narrator that due to a recent crackdown, they were able to track the service that May worked for and found out her name. The police still didn't know the identity of her killer, but the call-girl service had top-tier clientele due to their headquarters being tipped-off and abandoned by the time they raided the location.

The Narrator meets with Gotanda again, watching a video of all of Gotanda's commercials. While talking though, the Narrator feels the presence of a small, unseen but powerful entity in the apartment.

Two months pass and the Narrator hasn't worked. He calls Yuki to make sure she is okay. Yuki states that her mind and body don't feel like they are connected, that Ame has been in a downward spiral since Dick died, as Dick had been the organizational backbone in her life, as well as her lover. The Narrator picks her up and they go to see Gotanda's movie. During the scene where Kiki and Gotanda make love, Yuki becomes physically ill and they leave the theater.

Yuki reveals that her abilities had revealed a vision of Gotanda killing Kiki; straggling her, putting her inside of his Maserati and burying her far away from the city, a ceremonial impression on the vision. The Narrator drives her home and spends the next few days trying to wrap his head around the news, unable to call his friend to inquire further.

Gotanda drops by the Narrator's place unexpectedly. Gotanda picks him up and they go for pizza. They make small talk at first until out of the blue, the Narrator asks Gotanda if he killed Kiki. Gotanda confesses that he "thinks he did", having no reason to want to hurt Kiki. He had to strangle and kill his shadow self, Kiki being compliant in the ordeal. He cites that since childhood he has had a different "shadow" personality that has done bad things (destroying a neighbor's window, blowing up mailboxes, killed cats in his neighborhood) with him experiencing depersonalization while it was in control. He didn't think he would be believed with a confession by the police, and he worried that one day his shadow would kill his ex-wife. Though he had no idea who killed May. The Narrator, having trouble coming to grips about what he had just heard, suggests that Gotanda and he go to Hawaii, disconnect from everything and just live for a while. Gotanda agrees and asks the Narrator to get him a couple of more beers. When the Narrator returns, Gotanda is already gone, along with his Maserati.

The next day, they dredge Gotanda's Maserati out of the water. Gotanda committed suicide soon after his and the Narrator's meeting.

The Narrator contacts Yuki, and they go out for food. Yuki tells the Narrator that she is determined not to live her life in neutral and was seeing a tudor for her education. The Narrator tells her that Gotanda killed Kiki and that he was intent on going back to Sapporo. The Narrator considers leaving commercial writing all-together and writing something for himself, without any idea of what it could be.

The Narrator travels to Sapporo and checks into the Dolphin Hotel, intent on seeing Yumiyoshi. While waiting for Yumiyoshi to appear for a couple of days, the Narrator has a dreamlike experience where he his back in the room where the skeletons were and he sees Kiki. Kiki states that the skeletons disappeared, that they were a part of the Narrator and that so is the hotel. Kiki explains that Gotanda thinks he killed her, she agreeing to help him try to kill his "shadow". The Narrator asks if she died. Kiki says that she didn't die, she disappeared. Jumping into the nearest wall and inviting him to do the same, adding that "it's simple". The Narrator complies and ends up back in his real world hotel room.

Finally, the Narrator makes contact with Yumiyoshi. They meet at the Narrator's hotel room and make love; the Narrator stating his intention to move to Sapporo. The couple spend time together before the darkness appears around them. They hold hands throughout the ordeal, the Narrator stating that they need to stay together through the storm. They try to find the Sheep Man, but reach the conclusion that he is dead. After rifling through some materials in the Sheep Man's room, the Narrator becomes separated from Yumiyoshi, the girl being swallowed by the darkness. He tells Yumiyoshi about disappearing through the walls as Kiki had done, but he is apprehensive. Yumiyoshi replies that "it's simple" and travels through the darkness. The Narrator follows behind, passing through the darkness, through the ocean where the Sheep Men live, then back into the hotel room in the real world. He sees Yumiyoshi already dressed and sitting down. They end up spending another night together, waking up committed and in a relationship.

Major themes[edit]

Several of the novel's characters are hallmarks of Murakami's writing. Dance Dance Dance deals with themes of gender, sexuality, loss and abandonment, as do many of Murakami's other novels. Often, the male protagonist in a Murakami novel will lose a mother, spouse, or girlfriend. Other common Murakami themes this novel includes are technology, alienation, absurdity and the ultimate discovery of a human connection.

There is a character in the story named Hiraku Makimura, which is an anagram of "Haruki Murakami". The novel's Makimura is also a best-selling author and writer.

Differences in English translation[edit]

The supernatural character known as the Sheep Man speaks differently between the two versions. The character speaks normal Japanese in the original work, but in the English translations, his speech is written without any spaces between words. Written Japanese does not typically demarcate words with spaces.

Reception[edit]

Dance Dance Dance received a 69% rating from the book review aggregator iDreamBooks based on seven critics' reviews.[2]

Book information[edit]

Dance Dance Dance (English edition) by Haruki Murakami; translated by Alfred Birnbaum.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jay Rubin. Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words. Vintage, 2005.
  2. ^ "Dance Dance Dance". iDreamBooks.

External links[edit]