This Week In History: The Dancing Plague of 1518


Don’t kick off your Sunday shoes; the Dancing Plague was a deadly epidemic. Starting in July of 1518, just before the festival of Mary Magdalene, someone began to uncontrollably dance. Frau Troffea stepped out of her home and from there danced her day away only stopping when she collapsed.


While we don’t know what exactly caused her gyrating, we do know what happened after she started dancing like David in the streets of Strasbourg. Within a week of her beginning to move and groove, around 30 more people came down with the plague. With the growing number of those affected by this shuffle kerfuffle, authorities in the city were getting alarmed.

Doctors blamed the hustle and bustle on “hot blood,” and suggested that the people just be allowed to continue to twist and shout. Sliding and gliding did not solve their problem; at least 400 more people came down with boogie fever. This attempt of hammering the plague out resulted in a number of people dying from their exertions.

The Dancing Plague was a really crazy event that finally ended in September of 1518. We’re still unsure at why people were not turning down, but this merrymaking was only exacerbated by the townsfolk. The next time you’re thinking of trying out the Macarena be careful; it may get out of hand! If you have had a dance fit, share your experience with us. Be sure to leave comments below either way!