On a Summer day in 1518, a woman we know only as Frau Troffea, began to dance through the streets of Strasbourg. Reports differ in how long Frau Troffea danced for – some say a few days, others say a week – but all agree that it was way too long to not be creepy. Adding to the creepiness were the 400 other people who began to dance wildly throughout the month of June. Some danced until they collapsed from exhaustion. Some danced until they died. The smarties of the day decided that these dancing fits weren’t being caused by supernatural means, but because those afflicted were suffering from “hot blood.” You read that right, these people were hot blooded, physicians checked it and saw. The answer, as agreed on by doctors and other authorities was to let these people dance until they could dance no more. The town even paid to have musicians play around the clock in guildhalls, hoping that it would tire out the dancers faster.
This wasn’t the first time a town found itself host to a dancing plague. Strasbourg has the best record of the event, but the problem started long before Frau Troffea was even born. Strasbourg was at the tail end of one of the last known outbreaks that first began in Aachen, Germany in 1374, lasting well over a hundred years.