Dance Dance Dance begins four and a half years after the events depicted in A Wild Sheep Chase. The narrator briefly reminds the reader of that story, which saw his girlfriend disappear after they had stayed at a run-down hotel in Hokkaido called the Dolphin. He then explains that he has become a successful writer, but that he is deeply unsatisfied by the work. His life has also been filled with various personal problems, from divorce to the death of his cat. In March 1983, the unnamed narrator travels back to Hokkaido in search of closure over the events of his past, from which he still suffers some trauma. After doing a simple assignment, he checks into the newly refurbished Dolphin Hotel. It has changed from a run-down establishment to an extremely high-end one, and now goes by the name l’Hôtel Dauphin. A receptionist approaches him after he inquires about the previous incarnation of the Dolphin, telling him that she has had a supernatural experience and is curious about what the hotel used to be like. In great detail, she tells him that she got in the staff elevator but that it stopped at a non-existent floor, where she was temporarily trapped in a cold, dark, damp-smelling hallway. Something that “wasn’t human” moved towards her but she managed to escape. When he tries to reach the mysterious hidden floor, the narrator fails, but later, when he is not paying attention, the elevator dumps him there. In the darkness, he runs into the Sheep Man, a tiny, wool-clad supernatural being from A Wild Sheep Chase. He claims to have been waiting here for the narrator but won’t say why. He says that his job is to connect things and tells the narrator “Yougottadance.” (In the English translation, the Sheep Man’s words run together without spacing and only minimal punctuation.) The two converse but the Sheep Man’s answers are extremely cryptic and the narrator learns little except that this other world is not the land of the dead.
Dance Dance Dance
High-class call girls billed to Mastercard. A psychic 13-year-old dropout with a passion for Talking Heads. A hunky matinee idol doomed to play dentists and teachers. A one-armed beach-combing poet, an uptight hotel clerk and one very bemused narrator caught in the web of advanced capitalist mayhem. Combine this offbeat cast of characters with Murakami’s idiosyncratic prose and out comes “Dance Dance Dance”.