The Phantom Tollbooth

By Rick Mohr; January 2005

Grid, + Mini Contra Caller's Box

Level: Intermediate/Advanced


All into the center and back (8)

Heads right and left through (4)

Sides right and left through (4)


Heads left hand star (8)

Allemande right with corner 1 1/4 (8)


Allemande left with partner (6)

Swing corner (10)


Allemande left with next corner (6)

Pull by with right hand (the one you swung) (2)

Allemande left with partner 1 1/4 (8)

(Gents join right hand with gent in adjacent square to form a wave of four—this foursome is now a mini contra set)


Balance the wave (4)

Gents pull by with right hand (2)

Pull by neighbor with left hand (2)

Ladies chain (8)


Hey (ladies pass right shoulders to start) (16)


Balance and swing partner (16)


Right and left through (8)

Balance the ring (4)

Pass through (to a new square) (4)


All into the center and back (8)

Swing corner (8)


All into the center and back (8)

Swing next corner (8)


Gents left hand star (8)

Allemande right the one you swung 1 1/2 (8)


Ladies left hand star 1/2 (4)

Swing partner (12)

Dance a square, then dance a 4-person contra with the couple in the adjacent square, then progress into a new square! It works, and feels magical every time in a Phantom Tollbooth sort of way.

To set it up have each square join hands in a ring, and line up the squares in rows and columns. Make sure they're straight, with no gaps. You need 9 squares minimum, the more the better. If any row has only one square, move a square from a different row&emda;for example, 3+3+2+2 is better than 3+3+3+1.

In the walk-through, after the (staggered) rights and lefts in A1 have everyone turn around to meet the couple behind them in the adjacent square. Then finish the square through to the partner allemande in B2, when those same adjacent couples meet to form a wave. Those foursomes now dance a contra, with couples along the edges of the hall waiting out.

After the partner swing in D1 make sure to teach (and call) "face that couple" as some dancers will tend to face the next square too soon. Then in D2 pass through into the new world of another square.

Call the square + contra sequence twice and then call the break figure. The break rotates the set 1/4 and swaps heads/sides so that everyone now progresses on the other axis. Lather, rinse, repeat; run it as long as a typical contra.

For Carol Ormand, longtime music and dance soulmate and contra/square alchemist, whose mind sparkles up at all the best times.