1518 Dancing Plague: The Mania Where Hundreds Danced For Days To The Point Of Injury

By Jacob Shelton
(Pieter Bruegel the Elder/Wikimedia Commons)

In 1518, one of the deadliest dance parties took place in Strasbourg, Alsace, when historians believe that between 50 and 400 people started dancing and didn't stop until they physically unable. At the time, local and religious leaders believed that the dancers were suffering from a religious fervor or a kind of spiritual curse, and it's still unclear what made these French villagers dance until they dropped. The manic dance party lasted for two straight months until it just stopped, as if someone switched off every villager, bringing the plague to a mysterious end.

Frau Troffea's Fateful Romp

It's believed that the dancing outbreak of July 1518 began when a woman named Frau Troffea stepped into the streets of Strasbourg and started doing a jig. This was no impromptu celebration: The woman couldn't stop dancing, stomping and prancing until her feet were bloody. She eventually collapsed from exhaustion, but her limbs continued to flail even as she sprawled on the ground.