Let me tell you a tale that is widely unknown. It all starts in the year 1518, in the small town of Strasbourg, part of the Holy Roman Empire. A housewife by the name of Frau Troffea stepped out of her house and begun to dance. She danced for minutes, then hours, then a whole afternoon, and suddenly she collapsed of pure exhaustion. She rested, but then when she was full of vigor again, she went back out and continued to prance and dance. Her neighbors were baffled. This activity continued for the entire rest of the week!
Frau was not the only inflicted soul. During this week, another 30 people begun to boogie till they could boogie no more. And at this point, people began to get injured. The souls of their shoes wore off. They all sweated profusely. They must’ve smelled really bad. And their jigs turned into stumbles and hobbles. The local authority finally recognized the hysteria. Usually, the treatment for unusual behavior was bleeding or leeches. However, local physicians recommended a far worse treatment...
Local doctors suggested to encourage dancing till you drop! They thought that the best treatment was to just let the samba die out on its own. So they kicked tanners and butchers out of their shops, built stages, hired musicians, and employed professional dancers to encourage the poor townsfolk. The dancers rolled in. And rolled out in stretchers. You see, encouraging exhausted people to tire themselves more isn’t a great idea. Most people just collapsed or fainted. But some unlucky folk perished of heatstroke or heart attacks. We don’t know the exact toll, but it could possibly be in the hundreds.
That’s mostly how this story ends. The dancing fever ended once the government made people pray. This seemed to work well, and all was normal soon after. This wasn’t the only time an incident like this happened. It also happened in Germany, Switzerland, and Holland, but none were as deadly. Some historians say bread the citizens ate was infected with a mold that made you tango. Others say that the soul of a St. Vitus, a saint who could control people, was angry and wanted revenge. Some others say that the stress caused by such a myth of St. Vitus, plus agony over war and famine, made people lose it. The cause is still unknown to this day. So there you have it. This has been Old Man Neesh Kleen, your proud strange history storyteller.
Story by Nash Klein