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Today in History: June 24th, 1374

Photo Credit: Bettmann / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Bettmann / Getty Images

One of the largest outbreaks of the ‘dancing mania’ begins in Aachen

On June 24, 1374, the city of Aachen in Germany witnessed a strange and massive outbreak of what we now call “dancing mania.” This bizarre event saw large groups of people dancing uncontrollably in the streets. The dancers moved wildly and continuously, often until they collapsed from exhaustion.

Dancing mania, also known as choreomania, was a phenomenon where people danced uncontrollably. It occurred in several parts of Europe from the 13th to the 17th centuries. People who were affected danced for hours, days, or even weeks. They couldn’t stop themselves, and they sometimes danced until they were seriously injured or even died.

Illustration of the dancing plague.
An illustration of the ‘Dance of Death.’ (Photo Credit: Ann Ronan Pictures / Print Collector / Getty Images)

The exact cause of dancing mania is still a mystery, but there are several theories. One theory is psychological stress. Life was incredibly tough in the 14th century. Europe was dealing with the Black Death (a deadly plague) and frequent famines. These hardships might have caused extreme stress, leading to mass hysteria. Another theory points to religious beliefs. At the time, many people believed in curses and divine punishments. Some thought dancing mania was a way to show repentance or escape a curse. Another possibility is ergot poisoning. Some people might have eaten rye bread contaminated with a fungus called ergot. Ergot can cause hallucinations and spasms, similar to what happens with LSD.

The dancing mania in Aachen was one of the largest and most famous outbreaks. It wasn’t the only one, though. Similar events happened across Europe over several centuries. For example, another big outbreak occurred in Strasbourg in 1518.

More from us: Strictly Come Dancing… To Death! The Haunting History Of Choreomania, The Dancing Plague

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The dancing mania in Aachen on June 24, 1374, remains a fascinating and mysterious event in history. While we may never know the exact cause, it reminds us of the powerful effects that stress, beliefs, and possibly even contaminated food can have on human behavior.

TVN News Poster

TVN News Poster is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News