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On this episode of the Ominous Origins podcast, we explore the mystery of the dancing plague of 1518 that swept hundreds off their feet.

From UFOs to unidentified feet of frenzy, we’re changing directions in a big way and swinging over to the strange Strasbourg phenomenon of 1518 that caused residents to dance uncontrollably for months — with many literally dancing until they dropped…dead. What caused this medieval flash mob? This is one episode you won’t want to miss! 


So way back when, well 1518 to be specific, the jitterbug took over Strasbourg, France… Literally. For reasons still relatively unknown, hundreds of people began to dance uncontrollably, without stopping for up to a month. People actually died from this. Starvation, exhaustion, and heart failure lead the pack — at least, if you believe the rumors.

While it might not be clear how many people died, if any at all, what is clear is that the dancing plague took over. It sounds ridiculous, right? Well, believe or not, I’m not messing with you. Notes from the time confirm that this actually happened.

What if I told you that this wasn’t the first time, either?

Yes, it happened at least ten time prior to this, all within the same region. We also have the laughing plague from Africa, which affected about 1000 people. Uncontrollable laughter swept through villages and mission schools and young women could not stop laughing, some lasting up to 16 days. That seems almost worse than dancing for a month. Either way, it’s terrible.

There are many theories as to what happened in order to cause these epidemics, from mass hysteria, to shared psychogenic experiences, to some funky fungus that got thrown into the food supply. But, despite all the theories, we don’t have any definitive answers, just some fun guesses!

But, for the full story, you’ll just have to listen.


Ominous Origins

Welcome to the Ominous Origins Podcast, a Horror Shots production. If you were previously a fan of the Horror Shots Podcast, this is the same great show with the same compelling content focused on myth, mysterious creatures, unexplained events, spooky stories — and even some of the strangest and most disturbing true crime stories. As always, our goal is to entertain, but also to enlighten with short, well-researched episodes on a variety of fascinating topics.

I hope you enjoy the show. If you would like to show your support, reviews on iTunes or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts are always greatly appreciated and help out so much. You can also comment on this post right here on Morbidly Beautiful and use the social share buttons to spread the word. Finally, you can check out my Redbubble store for some some great merchandise, including the new logo for sale on a variety of things!

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Note: If you want to catch up on previous episodes, you can find them all at

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