In 1518, men, women and children took to the streets of Strasbourg filled by an overpowering desire to dance. That, however, is where any similarity to an uplifting musical number ends. Unable to stop, they twisted and twirled until, their feet bloody, they collapsed from exhaustion or literally danced themselves to death. The cure: more dancing, doctors claimed, would burn off the fever – leading the authorities to build a stage and hire musicians to keep the deadly party going. Two months later, the dancing stopped as suddenly and mysteriously as it began.
Dance fever broke out many times across Europe