Cheren has written an autobiography and therefore readers looking for a carefully researched or well-polished volume need to adjust their expectations. The book reads like a transcription of a taped interview or reminiscence. It contains all sorts of memories, anecdotes, and reflections from a man who has reason to look back with truly mixed, powerful emotions.
The assertive ego on display here is part and parcel of the story. Cheren's involvement in the record and nightclub industries all but promise self-promotion will be prominent. He deserves some of his self-accolades, I'd say. He did join into the record industry at a time when shifts in lifestyle and musical tastes were emerging. He did shape the signings and releases that forged the genre that would be called disco. He did participate in the nightclub and social world that exploded outwards following the Stonewall transition. He did rally in response to the health crisis that exploded in the 80s. He did survive HIV to tell the tale.
Regardless of authorial shortcomings, this book is invaluable in its first-hand portrayal of the NY gay scene post-Stonewall. It stands as a companion to the other, much-cited document The Dancer From The Dance, which we must remember is fiction. Cheren's autobiography gives the places, players, and events with all the details anyone could hope for. He paints the picture vividly, bringing it all back to those of us who took part and depicting it clearly for those who weren't there.
Even more valuable to me, and what makes me keep referring back to the book time and again, is the timeline of emerging music. Cheren's part in the music industry allows him to discuss early disco releases in authoritative ways that scholars have not been able to. He was there, he can discuss the newness of the music and the responses of the audiences he danced with. He worked alongside many of the notable DJs, remixers, and producers and watched with pride as his chosen musical motif developed throughout the 70s, 80s, and beyond. He is one of the few writers who not only detail the important, magnetic musical releases of the early 70s, but also the pre-disco records of the 60s that dancers had to settle for in the early clubs.
This book has many merits; for me, it is most revered for its musical insights into social dance soundtracks. For fans of real disco, this is a must-have. For people wanting to understand social dancing patterns in the US, it is essential.