Monday, September 8, 2008

"Come, lets mix where rockefellers, Walk with sticks or umberellas In their mitts ...."

Wiki:

Dancing mania (or choreomania, from the Greek: χορεία (khoreia = 'dance') + μανία (mania = 'madness’)) was a social phenomenon that occurred primarily in mainland Europe between the 14th and 18th centuries; it involved groups of people, sometimes thousands at a time, who danced uncontrollably and bizarrely, seemingly possessed by the devil. Men, women, and children would dance through the streets of towns or cities, sometimes foaming at the mouth until they collapsed from fatigue.

One of the first major outbreaks was in Aachen, Germany, on June 24, 1374; the populace danced wildly through the streets, screaming of visions and hallucinations, and even continued to writhe and twist after they were too exhausted to stand. The dancing mania quickly spread throughout Europe, said to be "propagated in epidemic fashion by sight" by Dr. Justus Hecker.

Having occurred to thousands of people across several centuries, dancing mania was not a local event, and was, therefore, well-documented in contemporary writings. More outbreaks were reported in the Netherlands, Cologne, Metz, and later Strasburg (Dancing Plague of 1518), apparently following pilgrimage routes.

St. John's Dance (known as Johannistanz or Johannestanz in Germany) was the medieval name for a phenomenon which emerged during the time of the Black Death. The medical term is chorea imagnativa aestimative. Basically, it is a form of apraxia expressing itself as "dancing rage," as uncontrolled ecstatic body movements. In the eyes of the church, those suffering from St. John's Dance were possessed by the devil.

2 comments:

Lee said...

Having been a reader of your site for some time, I would not be surprised if you were familiar with the Danse Macabre which was concurrent with, if not directly related to, Dancing Mania. Indeed the picture you have at the top of this post is the same as that on the Wiki entry for Danse Macabre. I was wondering if you knew the difference between the two or if they are similar things, separated only by the quasi medical explanation of the latter.

Either way, thanks for the great posts.

M.Christian said...

Always great to hear from a reader! Nope, no connection was intended -- just a pretty picture to go with the post.