From the Beeb: Dancing death.
Sometime in mid-July 1518, in the city of Strasbourg, a woman stepped into the street and started to dance.
She was still dancing several days later. Within a week about 100 people had been consumed by the same irresistible urge to dance. The authorities were convinced that the afflicted would only recover if they danced day and night.
So guildhalls were set aside for them to dance in, musicians were hired to play pipes and drums to keep them moving, and professional dancers were paid to keep them on their feet. Within days those with weak hearts started to die.
By the end of August 1518 about 400 people had experienced the madness. Finally they were loaded aboard wagons and taken to a healing shrine. Not until early September did the epidemic recede.
This was not the first outbreak of compulsive dancing in Europe. In fact, there had been as many as ten dancing epidemics before 1518, one in 1374 engulfing many of the towns of modern day Belgium, north-eastern France and Luxembourg. [continue]