Box the Gnat – Definition

Teaching Resource for BOX THE GNAT

Links:   Standard Analyze Module Teach Other Extend

CALLERLAB Program: Basic Part 2
Teaching order: After Shoot the Star
Recently taught calls: Wheel Around, Allemande Thar, Slip the Clutch

Background: “Box the Gnat” is listed as number 19 in Burleson’s Encyclopedia and is immediately followed by “Swat the Flea”. Both calls come from traditional square dance patterns, but there was some regional variation in their definition. See the Square Dance History Project for more information about Box the Gnat.


Minimum number of dancers needed: Two

Starting formation for the minimum number needed: Facing Dancers, one man and one woman

Command examples:
— Box The Gnat
— Tag The Line, Face In; Box The Gnat; Right And Left Thru
— Right And Left Grand; Box The Gnat; Wrong Way Grand
— Right And Left Grand; Box The Gnat; Pull By; Left Allemande
— Box The Gnat, Change Hands; Allemande Left
— Heads Slide Thru and Box The Gnat; All Double Pass Thru
— Swing thru, Box the Gnat, Right & Left Thru

Dance action: Dancers join and raise their right hands to make an arch; these hands remain connected throughout the call. In one smooth motion dancers Pass Thru and turn around:
• The woman turns left and goes under the arch.
• The man turns right and walks forward around the woman.

At the end of the call, each dancer will be standing in the other’s original position and they will again be facing.

Ending formations: Facing Dancers

Timing: 4

Styling: The initial handhold in this call is like a handshake but less connected than palm-to-palm. Throughout the call the dancers smoothly adjust this connection so that they end with the same handhold. Hands should slide over one another easily while still providing some degree of security and stabilization.

Comments: The right hands are still joined at the completion of the action, and often the next call will begin with the joined right hands.

The Ocean Wave Rule applies to this call. From a Mini-Wave, dancers smoothly adjust handholds into the one described above. Depending on the handhold used in waves (which can vary regionally), this may require dancers initially to back up slightly.

Facing Couples or Ocean Wave Rule: The Ocean Wave Rule applies.

Link to Taminations: Taminations Box the Gnat