TikTokers Are Teaching People About Mysterious Dancing Plague Of 1518

by : Niamh Shackleton on : 14 Dec 2020 16:03
TikTokers Are Teaching People About Mysterious Dancing Plague Of 1518@kingkhieu/TikTok

While you wouldn’t expect TikTok to be a particularly educational resource, people are taking to the app to teach others about the supposed ‘dancing plague’ of 1518.

Listening to the story you’d think these TikTokers were making it up, but what they’re talking about did in fact happen.


TikToker @kingkhieu shared a video of him talking about the strange illness that took place where he explains that it first occurred in Stasbourg, France, and that the illness ended up affecting 400 people causing them to supposedly ‘dance without rest’.

He goes on to explain that scientists to this day are still unable to pinpoint a cause of the dancing plague, but some believe it might have been caused from eating a certain fungi or due to a mass psychogenic illness.


I know it sounds like total nonsense but, as per History.com, this was a genuine thing.

Backing up @kingkhieu’s video, the site explains:

In July 1518, residents of the city of Strasbourg (then part of the Holy Roman Empire) were struck by a sudden and seemingly uncontrollable urge to dance.

The hysteria kicked off when a woman known as Frau Troffea stepped into the street and began to silently twist, twirl and shake. She kept up her solo dance-a-thon for nearly a week, and before long, some three-dozen other Strasbourgeois had joined in. By August, the dancing epidemic had claimed as many as 400 victims.

Apparently many people – understandably – collapsed from exhaustion with some even dying from strokes and heart attacks. Imagine having that on your grave stone: ‘Danced to death’.

Public Domain

Including the theories of people ingesting fungi and the 400 people experiencing a mass psychogenic illness, others believed that St. Vitus cursed people with the dancing plague.

History.com explains: ‘According to historian John Waller, the explanation most likely concerns St. Vitus, a Catholic saint who pious 16th century Europeans believed had the power to curse people with a dancing plague. When combined with the horrors of disease and famine, both of which were tearing through Strasbourg in 1518, the St. Vitus superstition may have triggered a stress-induced hysteria that took hold of much of the city.’

Meanwhile, others have suggested that people did it due to being part of a religious cult.


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Niamh Shackleton

Niamh Shackleton is a pint sized person and journalist at UNILAD. After studying Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford, she did a year at Caters News Agency as a features writer in Birmingham before deciding that Manchester is (arguably) one of the best places in the world, and therefore moved back up north. She's also UNILAD's unofficial crazy animal lady.

Topics: Viral, history, Life, Now, TikTok


  1. History.com

    What was the dancing plague of 1518?