Tarantism : tar-ant-ism

You’re in the grocery store, Minding your own. When suddenly a song comes on over the PA, Your song. And then you feel it, Deep in your soul the urge to dance. That feeling is called Tarantism, The uncontrollable urge to dance.

The word Tarantism comes from the Latin word Tarantismus around the 1630’s. Back then though the word meant something much more serious. It was the name of a disease thought to be caused by being bite by a tarantula. The Dancing disease.

It would start with Weeping, and skipping until its victims would wildly dance about for 3-4 days in order to work out the venom of the wolf spider or more commonly known the tarantula. It should be noted that the wolf spider bite has no dangerous effect to humans.

This bizarre “Disease” is more likely a case of mass hysteria that swept over east Europe. Tarantism is a very specific case of it. But the dancing hysteria in general stretched between the 11-17 century (approximately 1000-1600 AD). There are several cases of this happening in America as well but that’s a different word and a different day.

The “Disease” virtually diapered after the 17th century, its popped up one in a while over the last hundred years but nothing like craze that swept threw Europe.