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Rezo Bragin
Rezo Bragin

Hard Dance Mania Vol 22 Zippy

The year was 1374. In dozens of medieval towns scattered along the valley of the River Rhine hundreds of people were seized by an agonising compulsion to dance. Scarcely pausing to rest or eat, they danced for hours or even days in succession. They were victims of one of the strangest afflictions in Western history. Within weeks the mania had engulfed large areas of north-eastern France and the Netherlands, and only after several months did the epidemic subside. In the following century there were only a few isolated outbreaks of compulsive dancing. Then it reappeared, explosively, in the city of Strasbourg in 1518. Chronicles indicate that it then consumed about 400 men, women and children, causing dozens of deaths (Waller, 2008).

hard dance mania vol 22 zippy

Writers then and now have offered various interpretations of these strange and sometimes deadly crises. It has been suggested that the dancing maniacs of 1374 and 1518 were members of a heretical dancing cult. Contemporary observers, however, made clear their view that the dancing was a sickness. Nor did the Church, at a time when heresies were quickly suppressed, believe the dancers to be anything but victims of a terrible affliction, natural or divine. In recent decades a vogue for simple biological explanations has inspired the view that epidemic madnesses of the past were caused by the ingestion of ergot, a mould containing psychotropic chemicals (Backman, 1952; Matossian, 1989).

These were intensely traumatic times. Nuns were protected from many of the indignities of daily life, but nunneries could also become toxic psychological environments. Even in well-managed communities, some nuns were inevitably unhappy. Sisters were often consigned to lives of quiet contemplation in accordance with the wishes of their parents rather than any conspicuous piety on their own part. Once inside the cloisters it was very hard for them to get out. But those who keenly embraced the spiritual life were often the most desperate. Tormented by a feeling of falling short of the exacting standards of holiness imposed by their orders, plenty reflected with terrible fear on the fiery destiny awaiting those impure in mind or deed. 350c69d7ab


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