The Dancing Plague Of 1518

dancing plagueDid you know that dance memes occurred in the Dark Ages? Wikipedia on the supreme horror of the Dancing Plague of 1518:

The Dancing Plague (or Dance Epidemic) of 1518 was a case of dancing mania that occurred in Strasbourg, Alsace (then part of the Holy Roman Empire) in July 1518. Numerous people took to dancing for days without rest, and, over the period of about one month, some of those affected died of heart attack, stroke, or exhaustion.

The outbreak began when a woman, Frau Troffea, began to dance fervently in a street in Strasbourg. This lasted somewhere between four to six days. Within a week, 34 others had joined, and within a month, there were around 400 dancers. Some of these people eventually died from heart attack, stroke, or exhaustion. Historical documents, including “physician notes, cathedral sermons, local and regional chronicles, and even notes issued by the Strasbourg city council” are clear that the victims danced. It is not known why these people danced to their deaths.

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  • howiebledsoe

    St. Vitus dance? Maybe the music was just better back then.

  • Calypso_1

    Didn’t this happen in the 70’s as well?

  • Dingbert

    This merits weaponization.

  • Rich Knox

    somebody went back in time and spiked the water with extasy

  • Liam_McGonagle

    I’m sure this is just another case of wild exaggeration.

    You know none of them old-timey dances would even qualify for the term these days. They’d have all these dumb*ss names like ‘Shoe the Donkey’ and ‘Peddlar’s Bunyon’ and whatnot, and look like nothing so much as an octogenarian turning the street corner on a leisurely stroll. No ‘rump shakers’ or so forth for that crowd.

    • Calypso_1

      Some pretty hard core old-timey stuff out there.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2tX1bnhhi4I

      • Liam_McGonagle

        Fair play, but in context, let’s remember that we’re talking about continental Europe. Strasbourg people were not tribal roughnecks like the Georgians or Tatars.

        • Calypso_1

          Grainy vid & style predates the more ‘civilized’ continental period but great performance of medieval folk dance music.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nb2Ezif7zf8

          • Liam_McGonagle

            Hell, I’m just surprised that any footage from that time survived at all! Grainy or not!

          • kowalityjesus

            I can imagine me stomping the SHIT out of the floor to that music. Lusty, lusty musicks

            Also enjoyed the Georgian dancers… sounded Celtic, Russian then Middle Eastern with an aboriginal Australian flavor.

          • Calypso_1

            Well heft bodices add to the fun as well.

            Music on the Georgian dance was world based. That first bit was afrocelt soundsystem.

            Think you’ll like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTZmrm3NAxQ
            Imagine that echoing in a mountain valley.

            This is more traditional instrumental
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z51wEuWYGag

            This gives you an idea as well how much of the ‘celtic’ sound in really just indigenous Euro music.
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mu-Mw6j3RWw

          • kowalityjesus

            excellent analysis, celts are ‘indigenous europeans.’ The idea had occurred to me before, but its nice to have it summed and corroborated : )

        • Calypso_1

          Prior to the more staid influences of classical instrumentation,
          Germany had the Dudelsack.
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2U-8YvPg3rw

          • Dingbert

            My favorite German word! I always thought it just meant bagpipe, but apparently it’s its own thing.
            Second favorite is also a musical instrument: Schlagzeug. Drums, but literally, “beating thing.”

          • Calypso_1

            It can generically refer to bagpipe. There are many designs that i’ve seen fall under the name.
            I’d like one of these:

          • InfvoCuernos

            Is that a goatsack?

          • Calypso_1

            Who doesn’t enjoy squeezing a nice goatsack?

  • Number Two

    Jes Grew strikes again

  • Alkwerte Alk

    vasoconstriction-free strain of ergot ?

  • Sarah

    1518 is not medieval.

  • http://skadhiblog.wordpress.com/ skadhithjassisdottir

    Mmm… reminds me of the tarantella.

    • Calypso_1

      Thought you had been ‘detained’.

      • http://skadhiblog.wordpress.com/ skadhithjassisdottir

        Ssh, I’m still in hiding yet.

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