By the time this event was over, many would be dead from exhaustion...
A Very Strange Illness
However soon there was another person breaking out in dance, then another and another. Within the week 35 people were all dancing non stop and things were to get worse.
By the end of August, some six weeks after Troffea had started dancing, there were more than 400 people dancing. They danced day after day, hopping and leaping without rest until they finally fell to the ground unconscious with many dying from exhaustion, heart attack or stroke.
Those afflicted seemed to have entered into a possessed or trance like state. The fact many were said to have danced for up to six days straight seems an impossibility, exerting that much energy without rest should have killed them before they reached day three, not to mention not eating or drinking for the duration.
Seeking a Cure
To many physicians at the time the treatment was simple.... More Dance!
It was thought that the dancers would 'dance themselves out of it' and as such they should be further encouraged. Two large halls were opened up and stages were constructed. Those who were afflicted by the plague were sent to these locations and along with paid musicians to provide some lively music a somewhat strange dance party was created. By dancing day and night surely they would get it out of their system?
(of course not taking into account many people had already died by this time).
There was of course exceptions to this rule. Weddings or religious ceremonies were allowed the use of stringed instruments but the ban on all percussion instruments would still have to be upheld.
Still this did not work. It was decided that it must be a curse placed on Strasbourg and one way to make the saints happy again was to clean up the town. Undesirable people were banished and those still stuck dancing were taken to a shrine of St Vitus, were given specially anointed red shoes and were cured.
Definitely Not An Isolated Event
What is most interesting is that the Dance Plague of 1518 in Strasbourg was by no means an isolated event. Between the 14th and 17th centuries there were many outbreaks of Dance Plague (choreomania) affecting tens of thousands of people throughout mainland Europe and still there were further outbreaks outside of this time frame.
Strange events indeed and even today no one has come up with a explanation on what caused the dance plague. Not one disease or known illness can explain all the symptoms. Perhaps it is outside the realms of science to explain?