It was a normal July day in Alsace, in what is today France, in 1518. People were going about their business in the city of Strasbourg.
Then a woman identified only as Frau Troffer or Troffea began dancing in the street, with what people would later describe as a grimace of pain on her face. She wouldn’t stop. It was almost as though she couldn’t stop, and she kept on dancing for six days straight.
But that wasn’t all.
By the end of those six days, 34 more people had joined her in her weird, compulsive dance, prancing around the street all day and night.
It didn’t stop there. According to historical records, some 400 people started dancing and couldn’t stop. Most of them were women. People died of exhaustion, heart attacks, or strokes as they danced, dropping in the street.
And it went on like this all summer, with the death toll rising and fear gripping those who weren’t afflicted.
Finally, at the end of summer, the surviving dancers were taken to a hilltop to pray. The mania eventually stopped and things calmed down once again.
However, the mystery remained. Why had this happened? What would cause people to dance night and day to the point of harming or even killing themselves?
The Dancing Plague of 1518, as it’s come to be known, is one of the great unsolved mysteries of time, just one of those things we may never have the answer to, like the identity of a mysterious skyjacker or who’s really making designs in crop fields.
Read on to learn more about this eerie and macabre mystery, and let us know your theories!
[H/T: Dusty Old Thing]