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Sunday, 7 September 2014

Dancing Mania

Dancing mania was a phenomenon seen primarily in mainland Europe between the 14th and 17th centuries. During such outbreaks, groups of up to thousands of people would dance uncontrollably, screaming, shouting, and claiming to have visions until they collapsed from exhaustion.

Dancing mania was initially considered a curse sent by a saint, usually St. John the Baptist, so it was called "St. John's Dance."

Music was typically played during outbreaks of dancing mania, as it was thought to remedy the problem.

A painting by Pieter Brueghel the Younger, after drawings by his father.

One of the first major outbreaks of dancing mania, wherein crowds of people danced themselves to exhaustion, took place in Aachen (present-day Germany)  on June 24, 1374, before spreading to other cities and countries.

The “Dancing Plague” was an uncontrollable dance mania that killed dozens of people in Strasbourg, France in 1518. It began when a woman found herself dancing in the streets of Strasbourg for somewhere between four and six days. Within a week, 34 others had joined, and within a month, there were around 400 dancers.

Believed to have been caused by the bite of a tarantula, tarantism is literally a sickness that causes a person to randomly break out in dance.

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