Time and again, several incidents keep happening that simply assert the adage, ‘Truth is stranger than fiction’. Some really unbelievable things have happened in history that sound fictional but are actually very true. Who can believe that 400 people danced for over a month without music, without reason, without stopping?
In July 1518, the dancing plague hit the people of Strasbourg, France in the ancient Roman empire. Around 400 people took to dancing day in and day out, without a rest for one whole month.
Mrs. Troffea, a woman began dancing in the street of Strasbourg alone for 4-6 days. In another week, several others joined her with the total number of dancing people becoming 35. In a month, the number went up to 400.
Why were they dancing like that? After ruling out supernatural and astrological causes, many local doctors said that these people were dancing due to their ‘hot blood’ and it was due to natural causes. It was believed that the people would be cured only if they kept dancing, so the authorities build a stage for them to dance. This encouragement made the epidemic worse.
Many died dancing after suffering a stroke, a heart attack and exhaustion. Several efforts to stop them from dancing failed with the number increasing with every passing day.
Modern theories were hypothesized for this dancing epidemic years later. One stated that it was a cause of poisoning due to a specific kind of mushroom that had ergotamine. Ergotamine is structurally similar to the drug LSD.
Another theory stated that it was one of the first cases of mass delusion – a form of a psychological illness that affects a large group of people. This psychological condition could have caused ‘chorea’, a condition where a person did random involuntary movements that looked as if they were dancing. It was commonly called as the ‘dancing mania’.
Did you know this fact?