Weird History

The Lesser-Known Medieval Plague That Literally Caused People To Dance Themselves To Death

Medieval Europe had no shortage of diseases, from the black plague that killed millions to the bizarre medieval sweating sickness that could kill within hours. But one of the strangest diseases in history has to be the dancing sickness. Afflicted people would dance uncontrollably for days at a time, sometimes until they fell over dead.

In the dancing plague of 1518, four hundred people danced in the streets of Strasbourg for months, as the city tried all sorts of cures for the afflicted dancers. When hiring musicians to “burn out” the dancing didn’t work, the city tried banning dancing completely and kicked out all the prostitutes and gamblers. One physician even blamed rebellious women for the outbreak.

How did Strasbourg finally end the outbreak of dancing mass hysteria? In a strange turn of events, the cure involved red shoes. The bizarre history of Strasbourg’s dancing plague is baffling. Dancing mania has to rank among the strangest cases of mass hysteria in history, as people were literally dancing to death. Keep reading to learn more about the strange medieval dancing plague.