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  • Writer's pictureTammy Lowe

Interesting Fact of the Day...

Updated: Sep 24, 2023



I recently stayed in the picturesque Alsace region of France. Every town looked straight out of a fairytale. While visiting Strasbourg, I was reminded of the fascinating tale of...



THE DANCING PLAGUE OF 1518


In what is now France, in the city of Strasbourg, Frau Troffea stepped out of her house one July morning and began to dance. People walking by laughed at first, but the woman couldn’t stop. It went on for days. She’d collapse from exhaustion, her feet bloody and raw, but she’d get back up and continue dancing. Eyewitnesses say Frau Troffea was not having convulsions -she was dancing. Within a week, at least thirty more people danced in the streets of Strasbourg, unable to stop. By August, there were nearly four hundred people dancing non-stop. Many died from exhaustion or heart attacks--on the spot--while horrified onlookers watched, unable to help.



Die Wallfahrt der Fallsuechtigen nach Meulebeeck (1564) by Pieter Bruegel



The townsfolk not afflicted with the disease were bewildered. Doctors decided that the cause must be “hot blood” and the prescription was…more dancing so the sickness could run its course. Stages were built, guild halls were taken over, musicians were hired, and more dancing was encouraged. However, it was an epic failure as this caused the dancing plague to spread.


Experts say an Olympian today would not have been able to maintain the amount of dancing these people did. Additionally, at this particular time in history, there were food shortages. Villagers would never have had the stamina to dance non-stop for weeks.


Then, one day it stopped as mysteriously as it had started. Those who survived the dancing plague went back to their homes.


There are several theories as to the cause, from a fungus growing on their rye bread to mass hysteria. Although it is well documented, no one really knows why this happened in Strasbourg 500 years ago.

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