It started with just a few people dancing outdoors in the summer heat. Arms flailing, bodies swaying and clothes soaked with sweat, they danced through the night and into the next day. Seldom stopping to eat or drink, and seemingly oblivious to mounting fatigue and the pain of bruised feet, they were still going days later. By the time the authorities intervened, hundreds more were dancing in the same frenetic fashion.
... And it happened 500 years ago this summer in the French city of Strasbourg. It was there, over the course of three roasting-hot months in 1518, that several hundred people developed a compulsion to dance. The dancing went on and on until – to the horror of the crowds who gathered to watch – some of them collapsed and perished on the spot. Just what was happening?
...The rich burghers who ran the city were not amused. One of them, writer Sebastian Brant, had devoted a chapter of his moralising bestseller, Ship of Fools, to the folly of dance. Mystified by the chaos in the streets, he and his fellow city councillors consulted local doctors who, in keeping with standard medical wisdom, declared the dancing to be the result of “overheated blood” on the brain.
Friday, July 13, 2018
Dance Like It's 1518!
Five hundred year anniversary of a very strange event: