Dancing Manias

TheQuixote

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#1
Whilst looking at information upon a different subject (Pied Piper of Hamelin) I came across a mention of the Dancing Plagues or Manias of the Middle Ages as a possible theory behind the tale.

http://www.ims.uni-stuttgart.de/~jonas/piedpiper.html

Others include the mass transportation of people in order to colonise Moravia under the orders of an un-named Sovereign or even a "Children's Crusade" or battle. Children's Crusades already being mentioned here on the FTMB

Children's Crusade: Fact or Fiction?


This article from Csicop provides background on the Dance Manias, obviously debunks certain widely held beliefs about the manias and possible reasons behind the mania.

[...]
So what is the most likely explanation for dance manias? Based on an examination of a representative sample of medieval chronicles, it is evident that these episodes are best explained as deviant religious sects who gained adherents as they made pilgrimages through Europe during years of turmoil in order to receive divine favor. Their symptoms (visions, fainting, tremor) are predictable for any large population engaging in prolonged dancing, emotional worship, and fasting. Their actions have been "mistranslated" by contemporary scholars evaluating the participants' behaviors per se, removed from their regional context and meaning. Tarantism was a regional variant of dancing mania that developed into a local tradition, primarily in southern Italy.
[...]
http://www.csicop.org/si/2000-07/dancing-mania.html


The Dancing Mania of the year 1374 was, in fact, no new disease, but a phenomenon well known in the Middle Ages, of which many wondrous stories were traditionally current among the people. In the year 1237 upwards of a hundred children were said to have been suddenly seized with this disease at Erfurt, and to have proceeded dancing and jumping along the road to Arnstadt.

When they arrived at that place they fell exhausted to the ground, and, according to an account of an old chronicle, many of them, after they were taken home by their parents, died, and the rest remained affected, to the end of their lives, with a permanent tremor.

Another occurrence was related to have taken place on the Moselle Bridge at Utrecht, on the 17th day of June, A.D. 1278, when two hundred fanatics began to dance, and would not desist until a priest passed, who was carrying the Host to a person that was sick, upon which, as if in punishment of their crime, the bridge gave way, and they were all drowned. A similar event also occurred so early as the year 1027, near the convent church of Kolbig, not far from Bernburg.

According to an oft-repeated tradition, eighteen peasants, some of whose names are still preserved, are said to have disturbed divine service on Christmas Eve by dancing and brawling in the churchyard, whereupon the priest, Ruprecht, inflicted a curse upon them, that they should dance and scream for a whole year without ceasing. This curse is stated to have been completely fulfilled, so that the unfortunate sufferers at length sank knee-deep into the earth, and remained the whole time without nourishment, until they were finally released by the intercession of two pious bishops. It is said that, upon this, they fell into a deep sleep, which lasted three days, and that four of them died; the rest continuing to suffer all their lives from a trembling of their limbs.

It is not worth while to separate what may have been true, and what the addition of crafty priests, in this strangely distorted story. It is sufficient that it was believed, and related with astonishment and horror, throughout the Middle Ages; so that when there was any exciting cause for this delirious raving and wild rage for dancing, it failed not to produce its effects upon men whose thoughts were given up to a belief in wonders and apparitions.

[...]
http://biotech.law.lsu.edu/Books/hecker/Death15.htm


Saint Vitus' Dance (or Sydenham's Chorea) is quite often mentioned in regards to the Dance Manias too.

Saint Vitus is the patron saint of dancers, young people and dogs. There is a disease named after him, Saint Vitus Dance, or Sydenham's Chorea, which can sometimes cause dancing mania.
Sydenham's Chorea got it's name from the Greco- Latin word implying the act of dancing, the word chorea was first applied by Paracelsus to the frenzied movements of religious fanatics who during the middle ages journeyed to the healing shrine of St. Vitus.

chorea
Pronounced As: kr, ko- or St. Vitus's dance, acute disturbance of the central nervous system characterized by involuntary muscular movements of the face and extremities. The disease, known also as Sydenham's chorea (not to be confused with Huntington's disease, a hereditary disease of adults that is sometimes called Huntington's chorea), is usually, but not always, a complication of rheumatic fever. Sydenham's chorea, a disease of children, especially females, usually appears between the ages of 7 and 14. Facial grimacing and jerking movements persist for 6 to 10 weeks and sometimes recur after months or even years. Eventually the symptoms disappear. Although there is no specific treatment, sedatives and tranquilizers are helpful in suppressing the involuntary movements. Technically, it is sometimes called chorea minor or juvenile chorea to distinguish it from several less common choreas, chorea also being a general term for continuous, involuntary jerking movements.

http://saintvitus.com/SaintVitus/

Saint Vitus on the Catholic Encyclopedia:
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15490b.htm

-Having read about the Dancing Manias/Plague before, I assumed that it fell under a mass hysteria category, but the Csicop report seems to point at the likelyhood that it was possibly due to a religious sect picking up more followers whilst on a pilgrimage across Europe.
 

OneWingedBird

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#2
Others include the mass transportation of people in order to colonise Moravia under the orders of an un-named Sovereign or even a "Children's Crusade" or battle.
An interesting tangent from that is that Methodist founder John Wesley's revival of charismatic christianity (ie involving speaking in tongues and general religious mania) is claimed to have been inspired by Wesley's meeting with some Moravians on a ship during stormy weather.
 

Kondoru

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#3
upon which, as if in punishment of their crime, the bridge gave way, and they were all drowned. A similar event also occurred so early as the year 1027, near the convent church of Kolbig, not far from Bernburg.
Resonations cause bridge to collapse?
 

millomite

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#4
Homo Aves said:
Resonations cause bridge to collapse?
If they were all dancing in a random fashion then the energy the were transferring to the bridge would have no effect. If they were dancing with the right rhythm, however, it could have been at the natural harmonic for the bridge (like a guitar string which gives out one note) and with reinforcement this could destroy the bridge. This is why marching soldiers usually break out of step when crossing bridges.
 

Mikefule

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#6
As a Morris dancer myself, I was interested to read this article about what may have been "mass hysteria" leading to large numbers of people involuntarily dancing for days on end, with some dying of exhaustion. It's a surprisingly well written and thoughtful article for a British paper, too — a fact so unusual that it may be even more Fortean than the content!

https://amp.theguardian.com/stage/2018/jul/05/bizarre-dance-epidemic-of-summer-1518-strasbourg

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.

But this was not one of those 80s raves that began in a remote layby and ended in a muddy field. Rather, it’s one of the oddest epidemics to be recorded in world history. 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? (To continue, follow link)

https://amp.theguardian.com/stage/2018/jul/05/bizarre-dance-epidemic-of-summer-1518-strasbourg
 

EnolaGaia

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#7
... This article from Csicop provides background on the Dance Manias, obviously debunks certain widely held beliefs about the manias and possible reasons behind the mania.

http://www.csicop.org/si/2000-07/dancing-mania.html
...
The link is long dead. The article is:

Rethinking the Dancing Mania
Article
Robert E. Bartholomew
Skeptical Inquirer, Volume 24.4, July / August 2000

The full text can be accessed at the Wayback Machine:

https://web.archive.org/web/2013080...icop.org/si/show/rethinking_the_dancing_mania
 
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